By Dr. David Morris
Summary: “One of the intellectual giants who contributed to our contemporary high standard of living and knowledge of human nutrition was Dr. Royal Lee,” writes Dr. David Morris in this excellent biography of the twenty century’s foremost natural nutritionist. “Even though his name is known to only a small number of Americans,” Morris adds, “Dr. Lee was a researcher, inventor, scientist, scholar, statesman, businessman and philanthropist of the first order.” Indeed. From the Weston A. Price Foundation, 2000.
[The following is a transcription of the original Archives document. To view or download the original document, click here.]
Royal Lee, DDS: The Father of Natural Vitamins
Those of us who have made the transition into the twenty-first century are fortunate because we benefit from the numerous inventions and creations from the past that make our daily existence so much more rewarding and enjoyable. One of the intellectual giants who contributed to our contemporary high standard of living and knowledge of human nutrition was Dr. Royal Lee. Even though his name is known to only a small number of Americans, Dr. Lee was a researcher, inventor, scientist, scholar, statesman, businessman, and philanthropist of the first order.
Dr. Lee was born on April 7, 1885, and reared on a farm near Edmund, in the southwestern part of Wisconsin. At the age of twelve, he had compiled a notebook on biochemistry and nutrition by copying definitions from the school dictionary. He also started collecting books on those subjects, which he continued collecting over the years, resulting in one of the largest individual such collections in the world. While a student in high school, he taught advanced physics to a class of fifteen [fellow] students. Upon graduation he engaged in various businesses before being drafted by the army to serve in World War I. At the conclusion of the war and his discharge in 1919, he enrolled in Marquette University, Milwaukee, where he graduated from dental college in 1924.
One of his major interests at university was nutrition. During his senior year, he presented a paper to his class on “The Systemic Causes of Dental Caries,” which was written when he was the ripe age of sixteen. He outlined the relationship of vitamin deficiency to tooth decay and showed the necessity of vitamins in the diet for normal functioning of the endocrine glands.
The first of Dr. Lee’s many patents, for a motor speed controller for dentists, was granted in November 1924. One of Dr. Lee’s most important inventions was a speed governor for electric motors, patented on May 31, 1927. This device is needed wherever precise time intervals or constant speeds must be maintained, in equipment such as radar, calculating machines, food mixers, flame-cutting machinery, fusion welding equipment, drill presses, telephone equipment, and motion picture sound equipment. When talking pictures came out, Bell Telephone Laboratories had a speed governor selling for $1,200; Dr. Lee sold his to [the movie makers] for $3.50. Through the years he acquired close to one hundred patents in the electrical field.
In the early 1920s, America faced a new health threat: coronary heart disease. Dr. Lee knew that the vitamins and other nutrients were being removed from flour and rice by commercial milling, and he believed that this had a bearing on the subject of heart disease. At about this same time, the scientific community was able to isolate vitamins and standardize them as drugs. In effect the food manufacturers altered and removed the health-sustaining components from the grains they were milling and then “fortified” the product by adding synthetic, inert vitamins; thus the public was fooled into thinking they were getting the real thing.
Dr. Lee often ran advertisements in various newspapers exposing this food fraud. As a result he spent a great deal of time in court battling the U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA]. The FDA used its full power and unlimited taxpayer resources to brand Dr. Lee a racketeer because he promoted whole, natural, unadulterated foods, with their vitamins and minerals intact.
As far back as 1911, Dr. Lee had begun a systematic search of medical literature to assemble facts that could help establish a rational theory of function of the ductless glands, or endocrine system, a subject that was almost totally ignored at that time. The culmination of his project came in 1929, when he was able to produce a food-based, natural-state package of nutrients in the most potent and “bioavailable form,” which he named Catalyn. It was derived from the following whole foods: defatted wheat germ; carrots; nutritional yeast; bovine adrenal, liver, spleen, and kidney; ovine spleen; dried pea (vine) juice; dried alfalfa juice; mushroom; oat flour; soy bean lecithin; and rice bran extract.
At the outset his product was provided at no charge solely for the health and welfare of his mother and intimate friends. However, because of the remarkable results the product achieved, the fame of this food concentrate spread rapidly. The volume of demand reached such proportions that he had to create a new company, the Vitamin Products Company.
With Catalyn becoming such a success as a multiple raw food concentrate, Dr. Lee began to produce other specialized products to give doctors nutritional tools to use in treating their patients. In 1931 he introduced Phosfood Liquid to support healthy calcium metabolism and sympathetic nervous system function. By 1934 the demand by physicians convinced Dr. Lee to separate the various vitamin complexes into separate products (vitamins A through G) for more precise clinical application. From 1935 through 1939, he introduced five new products: Drenamin (adrenal support), Organic Minerals (parasympathetic support), Soy Bean Lecithin, Lactic Acid Yeast (proper pH for healthy functioning of gastrointestinal system) and Wheat Germ Oil Perles (one of the richest sources of natural vitamin E complex).
The 1940s saw a wide variety of specific nutritional products added to the Vitamin Products Company line. In the 1950s Dr. Lee developed a type of glandular product, which he termed protomorphogen extracts, produced by a process he patented. These were not the normal desiccated glandulars but were uniquely derived nucleoprotein-mineral extracts that support cellular health.
For almost half a century, doctors throughout the nation have used Dr. Lee’s products with great success. Today Standard Process, as the company is now known, carries a line of almost 150 products to serve health professionals and their patients.
You can see from the following quote made by Dr. Lee on October 2, 1933, that he was fifty years ahead of his time in the field of nutrition:
“Candy, all white sugar or its products, and white flour, including its products such as macaroni, spaghetti, crackers, etc., should be absolutely barred from the diet of the child. All these are energy-producing foods that contain no building materials for the body. The consequences of their toleration are susceptibility to infections, enlarged tonsils, carious teeth, unruly dispositions, stunted growth, rickets, maldevelopment, and very often permanent damage to many organs of the body (especially the endocrine glands) that depend on the vitamin supply for their normal function and development.”
In 1941 Dr. Lee organized the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research under a state charter as a nonprofit organization. The purpose of the Lee Foundation was to engage in research and to coordinate and communicate nutritional breakthroughs from laboratories around the world. The foundation was the world’s largest clearinghouse for nutritional information for doctors, agriculturists, and homemakers. During its existence the Lee Foundation disseminated millions of pieces of literature and hundreds of thousands of books on health and nutrition.
Dr. Lee took time in 1947 to coauthor a book with William Hanson entitled Protomorphology, Study of Cell Autoregulation, a study of biological growth factors and a survey of the problems of aging. He also provided moral and financial support to organizations such as Natural Associates, American Academy of Applied Nutrition, National Health Federation, and [various natural] health publications, always championing freedom of choice in “the natural way.”
Today, Standard Process, Dr. Lee’s nutritional company, is continuing his tradition of producing biologically active raw food concentrates. The company organically farms over 1000 acres of mineral-rich, fertile soil, created when the retreating glaciers moved mountains of earth across the Kettle Moraine area in Wisconsin. This is where the crops are grown that are used as ingredients for whole food supplements originally formulated by Dr. Lee over seventy years ago. These products are recommended and used by doctors in all fifty states to help balance their patients’ body chemistry and nutritional deficiencies.
Dr. Lee still touches our lives today. His many inventions in the electrical field add to the comfort and convenience of our daily existence. His nutritional discoveries help us maintain a higher level of health. Dr. Lee was a stalwart disciple of the principle of free enterprise and individual liberty. He believed in the application of the golden rule, not only in relationships between individuals but also between nations. He died on November 1, 1967.
By David Morris, DO. The Weston A. Price Foundation, 2001.