Adelle Davis Remembered: The Mother of Nutrition

    In the early 1970s someone introduced me to natural foods with an Adelle Davis cookbook. Celebrated as the first lady of nutrition and the natural foods industry, her work is still relevant today. Author of four best selling books including “Lets Cook it Right,” “Let’s Have Healthy Children,” “Let’s Get Well” and “Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit,” she was considered a visionary and a pioneer in the nutrition revolution, promoting the importance of proper diet for good health.

    Adelle’s work was first published shortly after World War II. Her mission was to educate and inform her readers about the scientific basis of nutritional education. With a background in biochemistry, she practiced nutritional counseling for 35 years. Emphasizing fresh food sources as the best way to gain vital nutrients and the importance of making educated choices to avoid vitamin deficiencies, she believed that food should be delicious as well as nutritious.

    Many of the principles she emphasized are timeless pillars of good health. She strongly encouraged adequate consumption of the B-complex vitamins and the importance of including whole grain breads, cereals, rice bran and wheat germ in the diet. She asserted that the only way to obtain all of the vitamins in the B-complex group is to source them from natural foods. Adelle Davis was also one of the first to emphasize the importance of trace minerals … “If these minerals are not in the soil, they won’t be in the plants grown in the soil.”

    Her first book, “Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit” (1954) devotes one chapter to each of the most essential vitamins and minerals explaining how these elements work in the body, the daily requirements, symptoms of deficiencies as well as sources of each vitamin and mineral. She may have been the first to point out the harmful elements in the typical American diet known to be excessively high in refined sugars, fats and salt as well as a rising incidence of overly processed foods, preservatives, additives, pesticides and hormones. She spoke of high calorie but nutrient-empty “devitalized” foods which should be removed from the American diet, because from her perspective, the majority of adults and children in the U.S were not eating genuinely wholesome food. With this in mind she recommended supplementing the diet with vitamins. She repeatedly made correlations between nutritional deficiencies and various diseases.

    Her books are still available in health food stores across the country or can be found at

    Simi Summer, PhD is an independent researcher and freelance writer. She is a strong proponent of 100 percent organic production and informed consumer choices.