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In his introduction Fried deplores the ""paranoia and suspicion"" rampant on both sides of the vitamin controversy. But very shortly this turns into an all-out blast against the ""vitamin faddists"" who proffer false hope to the millions of gullible Americans who spend some 700 million dollars a year on ""cures"" and ""preventatives"" for everything from cancer to the common cold. The people who really benefit, Fried says, are the pharmaceutical companies. Let it be said right away that Fried has done a great deal of digging--running down all the hard scientific studies of medical researchers, collecting voluminous first-person testimonials, interviewing nutritionists and doctors. His conclusions are uncompromising: the claims of vitamin enthusiasts are fallacious and dangerous. The much-touted Vitamin E is the biggest hoax--snake oil for the heart, he calls it--and while Fried doesn't quite accuse Drs. Wilfrid and Evan Shute (the great proponents of Vitamin E for relief of angina pectoris) of deliberate fraud--he comes damn close. Fried is equally positive that nicotinic acid (niacin) is useless in the treatment of schizophrenia despite the heartfelt testimonials of many parents and former mental patients and at least some studies which indicate that megavitamin therapy has greatly improved some patients. Even Vitamin C, with its prestigious backer Linus Pauling, is dismissed as no better than aspirin for treatment of colds. Fried is implacable and at times you feel that he is too willing to dismiss positive indications as ""subjective"" or illusionary. Although he has done an admirable job in laying bare the ungrounded claims of cranks and zealots, he seems too willing to trust ""respectable"" medical opinion even while acknowledging its strongly conservative biases.

Pub Date: June 9th, 1975
Publisher: Saturday Review/Dutton