Dr. Lamb, whose syndicated column on health appears in 700 newspapers, is a traditionalist when it comes to nutrition. After explaining -- very thoroughly, very clearly -- the basics of metabolism or how the food you eat is converted to energy and the building of new muscles and tissues, he goes on to explain why he wouldn't give a fig for the ""vitamin gurus"" and all those low or no carbohydrate diets beginning with Dr. Atkins. Unless you have special medical problems, Lamb sees no reason for vitamin supplements -- a sane, balanced diet should give you all you need. An overdose of vitamin A can be acutely toxic; the value of vitamin C in controlling the common cold is ""less than spectacular""; and as for vitamin E currently being pandered as something of a miracle drug -- ""All of the investigating efforts have resembled a herd of elephants charging after a mouse""; its importance in human nutrition has not been established, whatever its lack does to rats. Lamb has numerous objections to the high protein diets: they will inevitably also be high in fat, you will gain the weight right back once you stop dieting, your body chemistry can be dangerously altered. He cites some studies which show that a caloric intake below 1500 can cause physical deterioration, chronic fatigue and a loss of interest in sex. There is no substitute for good eating habits maintained over a long period of time. A fine analysis of just why you are what you eat -- though it will be as unpalatable as castor oil to those who think a fistful of vitamins can make up for any nutritional sins.