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The vitamin complex: our obsessive quest for nutritional perfection

The vitamin complex: our obsessive quest for nutritional perfection

Price, Catherine, 1978- author

Combining the wit of Mary Roach with the incisiveness of Michael Pollan, 'The Vitamin Complex' is an eye-opening tour of the science of modern food - and what it's doing to our health

Paperback, Book. English.
Published Richmond: Oneworld, 2015

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Statement of responsibility: Catherine Price
ISBN: 1780743467, 9781780743462
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Physical Description: xvii, 318 pages ; 22 cm
Subject: Health and Wellbeing.; Food United States Psychological aspects.; Vitamins History.; Vitamins in human nutrition Social aspects United States.; Dietary supplements Social aspects United States.; Health and Fitness.; Nutrition United States Psychological aspects.

Author note

Catherine Price is a food and environment reporter whose articles have appeared in Men's Journal, the New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Salon and others. She is a past winner of the Gobind Behari Lal prize for science writing. She studied journalism with Michael Pollan at the Unversity of California, Berkeley. She lives in Philadelphia.


'An excellent book...10/10...a deeply satisfying masterpiece of nutrition science writing'.

NHD Magazine||

'Gets to the nub of how we have become nutritionally idiotic. alarming' 

Sunday Times||

'Engaging. makes a compelling case for the importance of eating real food' 

BBC Focus||

'Measured, funny and fascinating. . . . If you need vitamins to survive (you do), you should read this book.'

Scientific American||

'[An] absorbing and meticulously researched history of the beginnings and causes of our obsession with vitamins and nutrition.'

New York Times||

'Behind the bizarre disconnect between rigorous drug regulation and a 'whatever' approach to dietary supplements are industry lobbying, Oz-like doctors and politicians on both sides of the aisle whose states benefit from the thousands of jobs provided by the multi-billion-dollar supplement industry. It is not a new story, but Ms. Price gives it a vigorous retelling. She also reminds us that the prophets of vitamania, and their political allies, would all be powerless if it were not for a peculiar kind of deficiency in ourselves that keeps us reaching for 'a salve against uncertainty.' Faced with such primal fears, it seems, science is powerless.'

Wall Street Journal||

'[Price's] investigation, full of scurvy-ridden sailors, questionable nutritional supplements and solid science, is both entertaining and enlightening.'


'Well told' 


'A much-needed critique of the nation's obsession with nutritional supplements. Price exposes the less-than-scientific roots of what has become a multi-billion industry, along with the inadequate regulatory oversight that drives unsavory marketing practices. The book concludes with this refreshing advice: get your nutrition from eating real food.'


'This is a fascinating look at what we know - and mostly what we don't - about vitamins. You'll never look at the a bottle of multivitamins the same way again.'


'This entertaining and informative book traces the history of vitamins and nutritional diseases . . . Readers interested in health, and those who enjoy Marion Nestle's books will want to read this work . . . An excellent addition to collections in public and consumer health libraries.'

Library Journal||

'Catherine Price gives us a journalist's entertaining romp through the fascinating history of the discovery of vitamins, and their use and marketing as objects of health obsession. Faith in vitamins, she advises, should be tempered by scientific uncertainty and dietary complexity, and the understanding that foods are better sources than pills.'



'Price's sharp wit, skillful and vivid translation of science into story, and valiant inquisitiveness (she insists on tasting synthetic vitamins and gets buzzed on the military's caffeinated meat sticks) make for an electrifying dissection of our vitamin habit in contrast to our irrevocable need for naturally nutrient-rich food.'