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April 16, 1997

Vitamania: Vitamins in American Culture

Author Affiliations

Wilmington, NC


by Rima D. Apple (Health and Medicine in American Society), 245 pp, with illus, $48, ISBN 0-8135-2277-3, paper, $18.95, ISBN 0-8135-2278-1, New Brunswick, NJ, Rutgers University Press, 1996.

JAMA. 1997;277(15):1247. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540390077041

Vitamania is not an attempt to answer the question of whether to supplement. Rather, it explores the economically driven forces propelling that question to the forefront of media coverage and our collective consciousness.

The book is a historical review of the battle between, on the one hand, forces promoting vitamins, including the pharmaceutical and health food industries and alternative medical practitioners, and on the other, the skeptical forces of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the American Medical Association, and academia.

Both sides proclaim that the preponderance of scientific evidence supports their views. Both sides are locked in ferocious combat for