compared to nutrition additives delivered through fortified foods, and health measures like vaccines and fluoridation, vitamins epitomize the individual's will to health.
this health maintenance has its own cybernetics to it; people can use vitamins, and minerals, and herbs: all these pills and supplements designed to augment a specific body function, or combat a specific illness. so as we identify vitamins as tools, in spite of their associations with "natural" foods, vitamins are nevertheless a technology that reflects our priorities.
vitamins present an opportunity for fine-tuned individual health maintenance. with a range of over the counter products, you can diagnose yourself and tinker with your energy levels, your illnesses, and perhaps lead a more productive, happy life.
(considering these pills, food becomes distinct from nutrients.)
Lynn Hall's responses in this interview provide an example of a person who takes vitamins to address specific body functions. she avoids fortified ("processed") foods, and she feels empowered to make her own vitamin prescriptions: "I do extensive reading and research myself, and discuss supplements with others who are knowledgeable and open-minded." knowledge and an open mind are useful for consumers interested in improving their health; these sentiments locate responsibility for health with the user.
prerequisite for the kind of intensive regime Ms. Hall maintains is access to and use of information about the vitamins. vitamins are an implicitly optional technology, and towards that end, the consumption of vitamins is intimately wedded to the currency of vitamin information. people who take vitamins are not prescribed vitamins by doctors, typically, and they are not influenced to take vitamins by advertisements (except in select publications, usually read by people who like that stuff anyways).
it is this value placed on the personal search for combination and information that makes vitamins among the most individual of the technologies studied here.
in the case of vitamins, expertise is in the hands of the user.
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