Shari Lieberman, PhD, a leader in the field of natural nutrition, died July 20, 2009, in Florida from complications related to metastatic breast cancer.1 She was 51.
“Dr. Shari,” as she was called, had many guest spots on television and radio shows and was generally regarded as a nutrition and mineral supplements expert.2 She privately practiced as a clinical nutritionist in New York City for over 20 years, published scientific research, and presented at US and international conferences. Dr. Lieberman was a prolific writer and wrote in a way that appealed to the general public. She helped explain 28 basic vitamins and minerals to the layperson with her best-selling book, The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book (Avery/Penguin Putnam, 4th edition, 2007), co-authored with Nancy Bruning.
“Shari always encouraged me to study the conventional medical options in sufficient detail so I can explain to mainstream medical skeptics of natural medicine where natural products can be appropriately used in conventional therapies,” said David Wales, president of American BioSciences Inc. (e-mail to M. Blumenthal, August 20, 2009).
Dr. Lieberman also co-authored Mineral Miracle: Stopping Cartilage Loss & Inflammation Naturally (Square One Publishers, 2006) with Alan Xenakis, and she co-authored the User’s Guide to Detoxification (Basic Health Publications, 2005) and User’s Guide to Brain-Boosting Supplements (Basic Health Publications, 2004) with James Gormley, in addition to writing many other books.
“Shari helped get the message out about the benefits of healthy eating, supplements, and herbal medicine,” said Jack Challem, a health writer known as The Nutrition ReporterTM (e-mail, August 28, 2009). “And she walked the walk—taking very good care of herself.”
Dr. Lieberman earned her PhD in clinical nutrition and exercise physiology from The Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio.2 She was a certified nutrition specialist, a fellow of the American College of Nutrition, a faculty member of the University of Bridgeport’s School of Human Nutrition graduate program, a board member of the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists, a past president of the American Association for Health Freedom, and the recipient of the National Nutritional Foods Association’s (now the Natural Products Association) 2003 Clinician of the Year Award.
According to co-author Gormley, vice president and senior policy advisor of Citizens for Health and past editor-in-chief of Better Nutrition magazine, Dr. Lieberman’s “Nutrition Hotline” Q&A column was one of the longest-running and most popular departments in Better Nutrition (e-mail, August 18, 2009).
“I think she, more so than anyone else, popularized the concept of optimal nutrition,” said Gormley. “I will miss Shari’s brilliant mind, her easy and infectious laughter, and warmth as a caring, wonderful healer, author, educator, and amazing human being.”
Alexander Schauss, PhD, CEO and senior director of natural and medicinal products research at AIBMR Life Sciences, Inc., met Dr. Lieberman in the 1980s. He described her as someone who was hard to forget because of her “vivacious personality, good looks, obviously fit body, and that unforgettable New York accent” (e-mail, August 26, 2009). He added, “It was obvious by looking at her that she practiced what she preached.”
Dr. Schauss described one point in Dr. Lieberman’s life that was very painful: “An attempt was made to strip her of her RD by a team of quackbusters [anti-health fraud activists] who saw her public visibility and advocacy of healthy foods and dietary supplements a threat to their agenda to suppress such information. The battle was in New York state, and although most people thought she was handling it well, it actually tore her up inside. She prevailed in her battle with the American Dietetic Association and quackbusters in the end, and kept her RD credentials, but it proved a painful experience.”
Dr. Lieberman was described by several of her colleagues as being passionately committed to the health of American consumers. “Time and again she fought for what was right,” said Challem. “She was gentle among friends, but could also be a tough fighter, defending the use of supplements.”
But it was her infectious enthusiasm, her smile, and her passion for nutrition that her colleagues mentioned the most: “Her ability to always be motivated easily trickled off to those around her,” said Douglas S. Kalman PhD, RD, director of business development at Miami Research Associates (e-mail, August 21, 2009). “Shari never stopped trying to grow and do so in various areas of the nutrition industry and academic sectors. Please continue to read Shari’s writings, buy her books, and live life like she did, with authenticity, pride, a smile, and zest.”
Dr. Lieberman is survived by her husband Agusto (Augusto) Benvenuto. The New York Chiropractic College is naming a scholarship after her for its graduate nutrition program.
—Kelly Saxton Lindner
- Maharam L. RIP Shari Lieberman, PhD, CDN. July 23, 2009. Ask the Running Doc page. Runner’s World Website. Available at: http://runningdoctor.runnersworld.com/2009/07/rip-shari-lieberman-phd-cdn.html. Accessed August 30, 2009.
- About Dr. Sheri. Dr. Sheri Website. Available at: http://www.drshari.net/index.asp. Accessed September 9, 2009.