VITAMINS: Their Use and Abuse by

VITAMINS: Their Use and Abuse

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A stern, hard-nosed little book which takes a look at vitamins, their role in nutrition, and the extravagant claims being made for their dietary or therapeutic value. Levy and Bach-y-Rita are categorical: well-fed Americans don't need vitamin supplements except under special circumstances such as pregnancy, dieting, old age or infancy, alcoholism, or epilepsy. They warn of the dangers of vitaminosis (toxicity) and explain how certain foods or drugs may impede the absorption or synthesis of vitamins and nutrients. Mussels can destroy thiamine; the way vitamin A is metabolized depends on the presence of vitamin D. The authors are suspicious of any medical findings which have not been rigorously and repeatedly tested in double-blind experiments. Thus orthomolecular medicine, which Pauling and others argue is not susceptible to double-blind studies, is treated here with a caution which verges on disdain. As for vitamin C and the common cold or vitamin E and the remission of angina pectoris--phooey. The authors do point out that RDAs (Recommended Daily Allowances) of vitamins and minerals are subjectively set--and periodically revised--by ""a consensus of responsible authorities"" drawn from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Their own views unabashedly reflect the ""establishment"" position. New to us is their caveat that, doctors and consumer groups notwithstanding, the ""generic equivalents"" of drugs or vitamins may not be the ""therapeutic equivalents""--e.g., aspirin is aspirin but some brands may be more readily absorbed and utilized by the body than others. A lucid conservative corrective to the proliferating vitamin faddists.

Pub Date: May 24th, 1976
Publisher: Liveright