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Don Alexander; Health Ideas Stirred Furor

June 17, 1990|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Don Dale Alexander, controversial nutrition theorist, lecturer and writer who advocated taking cod liver oil and orange juice for the treatment of arthritis, has died. He was 70.

Alexander, who was one of 11 California gubernatorial candidates in 1966, died Friday at Veterans Administration Hospital in Westwood of heart complications.

A popular lecturer at health and nutrition seminars for four decades, Alexander achieved international attention in the 1950s with his first book, "Arthritis and Common Sense," which was excerpted in the Los Angeles Times in 1959.

The book, written in 1951, became a best seller in 1957 and ultimately sold more than 1 million copies in six languages.

Alexander appeared on national network television shows including Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin, and his theories were described in Life and other national magazines.

"Through study, logic and common sense we have decided that arthritis is basically an oil deficiency in the human body and a lack of Vitamin D," Alexander wrote.

"To restore the proper amounts of Vitamin D to your system--the right kind of vitamins and lubricating oils--we recommend the use of cod liver oil mixed with orange juice."

He also advocated a precise sequence in which foods should be eaten.

The Federal Trade Commission accused Alexander of making false and unsubstantiated claims and at one point issued a cease-and-desist order against his publishing company, Witkower Press Inc., of Hartford, Conn., to halt further publication of the book.

An FTC examiner found an "impressive lack of medical or other training or education which would fit Alexander to write a book on such a recognized subject as arthritis."

The examiner characterized Alexander's statements in radio interviews as "merely a hodgepodge of scientific falderal and medical mumbo jumbo."

Alexander wrote four other books on nutrition and health, all published by his Witkower Press: "Good Health and Common Sense," "The Common Cold and Common Sense," "Healthy Hair and Common Sense" and "Dry Skin and Common Sense."

A resident of Los Angeles for the last 30 years, Alexander filed as a candidate for governor in the Democratic primary election of 1966, challenging incumbent Gov. Edmund G. Brown, who was renominated but lost the election to Ronald Reagan.

Alexander's 21-plank platform opposed fluoridated drinking water and advocated nighttime pari-mutuel racing and a state lottery to help finance a rapid transit system for Los Angeles.

Born in Norwich, Conn., on July 18, 1919, Alexander attended the Norwich Free Academy and Trinity College in Connecticut and Columbia University, New York.

He is survived by his second wife, Ida Fischer Alexander, two sons and one daughter from his previous marriage, and two grandchildren.

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