1. Metzger, Lauri MS, RD, CNSD

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Nutrition Almanac, 6th ed, by J. D. Kirschmann and Nutrition Search, Inc. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Books; 2007. Softbound text, 371 pp, $19.95.


Nutrition Almanac, now in its 6th edition, is an update of the work of John D. Kirschmann and Nutrition Search, Inc, which is a consulting company founded by Kirschmann. Often referred to as the "Bible of Nutrition" by health food stores, Nutrition Almanac was a quest originally embarked upon by the author for personal knowledge regarding his own health, and which became a compendium of literature organized by Mr Kirschmann and various medical and healthcare professionals that is now marketed as a resource for the relationship between food and health.


The book is organized into 6 sections: Nutrition and Health; Nutrients; Foods, Beverages and Supplementary Foods; Ailments and Other Stressful Conditions; Food Lists; and Tables of Food Measurements and Composition. The first section includes information on digestion, absorption, and metabolism. The second section provides information on macronutrients, micronutrients, and special functions of nutrients. This section is comprehensive, providing good information on macronutrient topics such as refined versus whole grains, the glycemic index, essential amino acids, and recommendations regarding cholesterol and fat-soluble vitamins. Discussion of micronutrients includes the absorption, storage, dosage, toxicity deficiency, and beneficial effects of vitamins and minerals along with information on water. In addition, the coverage in this section of antioxidants and phytonutrients includes a good description of free radicals and antioxidants endogenous to the body.


The third section provides nutrient content and nutritional benefit information for various foods, sorted by food group. This section also provides resourceful information on how to store food properly, vitamins available in foods, and food temperatures to help avoid food-borne illness. This section also includes a very informative description of the different types of fat. The fourth section includes information on a multitude of ailments and conditions, providing a description of each and recommendations for treatment, including suggestions of various herbs and homeopathic remedies that may be prescribed.


The last 2 sections of the text provide an excellent reference resource of various food lists and food measurements for the layperson and professional alike, and include tables on Foods with pharmacological activity, acid and alkaline forming foods, dietary reference intakes, weights and measurements and food composition by food group.


Although Nutrition Almanac is well organized, there is room for improvement for future editions. The authors may want to consider a graph combining parts of sections 2, 3, and 4 in future editions, as doing so may create a "1-stop" resource instead of having to thumb between several sections. References for material in the bibliography of the Nutrition Almanac date from 1931 to 2006, with nearly one third of the research appearing to be from the 1970s. Future editions may want to include more recent literature and the inclusion of footnotes to make this a more reliable resource. Admittedly, the literature and research on some of the topics covered is sparse, however, footnoting the material and the age of the source in the text will ultimately make this a better resource. In addition, until the information is properly footnoted, the average person may not be adequately equipped to distinguish what does and does not need to be referenced before possibly reaching conclusions and acting upon the given information. For example, claims on the cover to "Fight Disease, Boost Immunity and Slow the Effects of Aging" may be subject to interpretation, and recommendations within the book regarding antioxidants and cancer may be regarded as controversial by professionals but are not noted as such.


Although the suggestions of the previous paragraph allude to the notion that this book may not be the "Bible of Nutrition," portions of this book may make it a complimentary addition to the library of both the layperson and the professional as a resource.


Lauri Metzger, MS, RD, CNSD


Clinical Dietitian, Kindred Hospital, Scottsdale, Arizona