- With Mayo Clinic preventive medicine specialist
Donald Hensrud, M.D.read biographyclose window
Donald Hensrud, M.D.Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H., M.S.
Dr. Donald D. Hensrud is chair of the Division of Preventive, Occupational and Aerospace Medicine with a joint appointment in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism, & Nutrition at Mayo Clinic. He is an associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. Dr. Hensrud directed the Executive Health Program at Mayo Clinic for more than 10 years.
He received his B.S. from the University of North Dakota, M.D. from the University of Hawaii, M.P.H. from the University of Minnesota and M.S. in nutrition sciences from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He completed residency training in internal medicine and fellowship training in preventive medicine at Mayo Clinic and completed a clinical nutrition fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Dr. Hensrud is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Board of Preventive Medicine and the American Board of Physician Nutrition Specialists, of which he is a past president.
His career interests have combined nutrition, weight management, and prevention. He is the author of many scientific articles and book chapters and was editor of Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody; The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook, which won a 2005 James Beard Foundation award; The Mayo Clinic Plan: 10 Essential Steps to a Better Body & Healthier Life; and The Mayo Clinic Diet, published in January 2010.
Dr. Hensrud says healthy lifestyle habits in diet and physical activity are extremely important as evidenced by a large body of scientific evidence. He also says implementing these lifestyle habits is realistic, sustainable and enjoyable. A primary goal of his work is to help people achieve this.
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Supplement use increases, but a healthy diet is the key
By Donald Hensrud, M.D.
A recent study reported that dietary supplement use has increased in the United States, with more than half of all adults taking dietary supplements.
The most common dietary supplement you might take is a multivitamin. Many believe it may be an "insurance policy" to make sure you're getting all necessary nutrients. But there isn't much evidence a multivitamin will improve your health, and it won't make up for a bad diet.
A few dietary supplements have beneficial effects. Particularly for women, calcium and vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis and folic acid will decrease the risk of birth defects in babies. The recent study reported that calcium and vitamin D use has increased among women over age 60. Unfortunately, use of supplements containing folic acid has not increased among young women, and use among minorities remains the lowest.
Some dietary supplements have negative effects. Smokers and former smokers who take beta carotene supplements have an increased risk of lung cancer. Even vitamin E, which we thought was good for the heart, has not only showed little benefit, but it may even increase the risk of heart disease such as congestive heart failure (the amount of these nutrients in a multivitamin is OK).
If you have a vitamin or mineral deficiency, such as iron deficiency, then supplementation is certainly indicated. In that case, your health care provider should be involved.
Regarding weight loss, there is little evidence that any over-the-counter supplement can help, except for orlistat. It's also available by prescription. Yet, people spend billions on dietary supplements for health and for weight loss.
Most dietary supplements have little impact on health. But a healthy diet can decrease the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, many types of cancers, diabetes, obesity, and the list goes on. It may seem easier to take a pill, but the right dietary pattern can not only help you lose weight, but also improve your health in so many different ways. And it tastes a whole lot better than a pill!
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