Vitamania: Vitamins in American Culture / Edition 1

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"Vital reading for anyone who wants to understand the public's decades-long love affair with vitamin supplements. Rima Apple deftly explores the science, politics, history, marketing, and mystique that have kept vitamins a hot-button issue for the American public."--Bonnie Liebman, Director of Nutrition, Center for Science in the Public Interest

"Have you taken your vitamins today?"

That question echoes daily through American households. Thanks to intensive research in nutrition and medicine, the importance of vitamins to health is undisputed. But millions of Americans believe that the vitamins they get in their food are not enough. Vitamin supplements have become a multibillion-dollar industry. At the same time, many scientists, consumer advocacy groups, and the federal Food and Drug Administration doubt that most people need to take vitamin pills.

Vitamania tells how and why vitamins have become so important to so many Americans. Rima Apple examines the claims and counterclaims of scientists, manufacturers, retailers, politicians, and consumers from the discovery of vitamins in the early twentieth century to the present. She reveals the complicated interests--scientific, professional, financial--that have propelled the vitamin industry and its would-be regulators. From early advertisements linking motherhood and vitamin D, to Linus Pauling's claims for vitamin C, to recent congressional debates about restricting vitamin products, Apple's insightful history shows the ambivalence of Americans toward the authority of science. She also documents how consumers have insisted on their right to make their own decisions about their health and their vitamins.

Vitamania makes fascinating reading for anyone who takes--or refuses to take--vitamins. It will be of special interest to students, scholars, and professionals in public health, the biomedical sciences, history of medicine and science, twentieth-century history, nutrition, marketing, and consumer studies.

Rima D. Apple teaches at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she holds a joint appointment in the Department of Consumer Science and the Women's Studies Program. She is the author of Mothers and Medicine: A Social History of Infant Feeding, 1890-1950 and editor of Women, Health, and Medicine in America: A Historical Handbook.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813522784
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/1996
  • Series: Health and Medicine Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 1,525,651
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: "Perhaps Your Diet Is Too Modern": The Discovery of Avitaminosis 1
Ch. 1 "They Need It Now": Popular Science and Advertising in the Interwar Period 13
Ch. 2 "To Protect the Interest of the Public": Vitamins, Marketing, and Research 33
Ch. 3 "Superior Knowledge": Pharmacists, Grocers, Physicians, and Linus Pauling 54
Ch. 4 Miles One-A-Day: The History of a Vitamin Dynasty 85
Ch. 5 Acnotabs: Scientific Evidence in the Marketplace 109
Ch. 6 "Millions of Consumers Are Being Misled": The Food and Drug Administration and Consumer Protection 125
Ch. 7 "Preserve Our Health Freedom": Science in Consumer Politics 144
Ch. 8 "Intensity" Makes the Difference: Vitamins in the Political Process 158
Conclusion: Vitamania?: Vitamins in Late Twentieth-Century United States 179
Notes 199
Index 233
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