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5 minerals that are absolutely necessary for good health

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

Have you ever wondered what minerals are necessary for your body to function properly? The following are the five minerals that are the most critical for sustaining your energy levels, weight, and mood, in addition to the health of your skin, bones, and immune system. Discover what each mineral does for your body, how much you need, and what foods contain it all by reading below;


Iodine



Iodine is a trace mineral, an essential nutrient that the body requires in very small amounts for optimal health.


The thyroid gland cannot produce thyroid hormones without iodine, which slows metabolism and affects the entire body.


Iodine deficiency is on the rise globally due to poor soil quality and poor dietary habits.


Why is Iodine Important?


Iodine is an essential component of thyroid hormones, which aid in the regulation of the metabolic rate of all cells in the body. To produce thyroid hormones efficiently, the thyroid gland (a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck) absorbs small amounts of iodine from food. Iodine deficiency can cause a decrease in thyroid hormone production. Similarly, too much iodine can be harmful to the thyroid; this is why you should not supplement with iodine unless under the supervision of a practitioner.


Iodine is also necessary for foetal and infant development, as well as brain health and cognition, particularly in early childhood. The requirements of the growing baby increase a woman's iodine intake during pregnancy. Iodine is required for brain and bone formation, and low iodine levels may result in intellectual delays and growth problems.



Iodine deficiency symptoms


Prolonged production of thyroid hormones can result in hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid.


Hypothyroidism symptoms include:


  • Fatigue

  • Weight gain that was unexpected

  • Depression and low mood

  • Hair loss due to increased sensitivity to cold

  • Skin that is parched

  • Memory loss and brain fog

  • Inflammation of the neck (due to an enlarged thyroid gland)

  • How to Perform an Iodine Deficiency Test


There are several ways to test for iodine deficiency, including a urine test (which is simple and quick), a blood test (which is more accurate), an iodine patch test (which measures how quickly iodine is absorbed through the skin), and an iodine loading test (to measure how much iodine is excreted via urine in 24 hours). Consult your natural health therapist about the best test for you.


Foods high in iodine


Because iodine occurs naturally in soil and ocean waters, it can be found in a variety of plant-based and saltwater foods.


Iodine-containing foods include:

  • Vegetables from the sea (edible seaweed, nori, dulsi, algae, spirulina, chlorella)

  • Prunes and plums, dried

  • Cranberries

  • Iodised salt (fortified table salt with iodine) - consuming table salt is not recommended because it is highly processed and contains harmful additives. Instead, use sea salt or Himalayan salt, which contain a trace of iodine.


How to Boost Iodine Levels


Iodine intake should be 150mcg per day for adults and 220mcg during pregnancy.


The following factors may have an impact on iodine absorption:


  • Gut dysfunction. If the gut is harmed in any way, nutrients will not be absorbed efficiently, and mineral deficiency may occur.

  • Goitrogenic foods such as soy, millet, and raw brassica vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) may interfere with iodine absorption in the body. Brassica vegetables' goitrogenic properties can be reduced by cooking them.

  • Deficiency in selenium. Selenium is another mineral that is essential for thyroid function and helps protect the thyroid from free radical damage. Iodine deficiency can be exacerbated by a lack of selenium.

  • Iodine deficiency can be exacerbated by a lack of zinc, iron, copper, tyrosine (an amino acid), magnesium, and B vitamins.

  • Methods for increasing iodine levels


Eat a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet rich in organic vegetables and fruits to ensure you get enough of the key nutrients that support thyroid health.

Increase your consumption of iodine-rich foods (as indicated above).


Avoid high-sugar, inflammatory foods like refined carbohydrates (bread, pasta, pastries, pizza, pies), gluten, processed foods, dairy, and unhealthy fats. These foods are harmful to your digestive system and can disrupt the balance of beneficial gut bacteria.

Probiotics can help replenish and repopulate your gut with beneficial bacteria.


Find out how to improve your gut health.


Promote thyroid health


Iodine is a mineral that is required for normal thyroid function and metabolism, as well as for growth and development and brain health in babies and infants. Iodine deficiency is caused by depleted soils and poor dietary habits. If you suspect you have an underactive thyroid, consult your natural therapist because you may be deficient in iodine.


zinc



Maintain a healthy immune system and keep inflammation at bay.

Zinc is a trace mineral that is required for the body to function properly.


It is required for growth and development, as well as to aid the immune system in fighting infections and producing cell proteins.


Your health may be jeopardized if you do not get enough zinc.


What role does zinc play in the body?


Zinc is an essential nutrient that participates in over 200 chemical reactions and functions in the body; other nutrients rely on zinc to do their "job." Zinc is required to form the protective barrier of cells (the mucous membranes) that protects cells from toxins and other harmful particles. It also aids in the breakdown of alcohol in the body, proper digestion of food, and the formation of red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout the body. Zinc is especially important for growth and development, so maintaining adequate zinc levels is critical during preconception, pregnancy, infancy, and childhood.

Zinc's Health Advantages


Zinc is essential for the production and function of immune cells, so it helps to keep your immune system strong. Zinc stimulates the immune cells that fight infections. Taking zinc at the first signs of a cold can significantly reduce the length and severity of the cold.

Lowers pro-inflammatory molecules, which reduces inflammation and cell damage. A lack of zinc has been linked to increased pain and chronic inflammation. Those suffering from inflammatory diseases such as arthritis would benefit from increasing their zinc levels.

Accelerates wound healing because zinc is essential for skin health and the skin contains 5% of the body's zinc. Zinc is required for the production of collagen (a protein that gives skin structure), the modulation of the immune system, and the control of inflammation, all of which are important when the skin is injured (burns, cuts, skin lacerations, ulcers).

Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it improves skin health, particularly for acne, eczema, and rosacea. Zinc has also been shown to reduce oil gland secretion, which is beneficial for acne sufferers.


Regulates blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin action. Zinc binds to insulin receptors, stimulating cells to take in glucose and clear it from the bloodstream, lowering blood sugar levels.

Diabetics frequently have low zinc levels.


Zinc is necessary for the production of stomach acid and digestive enzymes, which aid in the breakdown and digestion of food, particularly proteins. Zinc is also important for your senses (smell and taste) and maintaining a healthy appetite.

By regulating hormones, promoting ovulation and cell division, and improving sperm quality, it promotes fertility health. Zinc, as an antioxidant, protects sperm cells from damage and promotes the development of healthy sperm.


Symptoms and signs of zinc deficiency


  • Infections that reoccur

  • Appetite suppression

  • Taste or odor loss

  • Slow development and growth (especially in babies and children)

  • Wound healing issues and open skin sores

  • Acne and eczema are two examples of skin conditions.

  • Unknown cause of weight loss

  • Infertility and a lack of libido

  • Bloating and diarrhea


Zinc food sources


Cashews, almonds, pecans, and Brazil nuts

Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds

*Soak nuts and seeds for at least 7 hours to activate enzymes that aid in absorption and digestion. After that, discard the water and store the nuts/seeds in the refrigerator.


Chickpeas, lentils, beans, and green peas are all examples of legumes.

Turnips, mushrooms, avocado, spinach, and ginger root are all examples of vegetables.

Oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice


How much zinc do you require?


Zinc's Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) varies according to age and gender. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding have additional needs.


The RDA for zinc is as follows:


  • 11mg per day for men aged 19 and up

  • Women over the age of 19: 8mg per day

  • Children (ages 0 to 18): 2 - 11mg per day, depending on age and gender.

  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding: 11-13mg per day

  • Adults should take 15-50mg, while children should take 5-10mg.


When taking zinc supplements, zinc picolinate is the best form because it absorbs more easily into cells. The body also readily absorbs zinc citrate and zinc glycinate.


I recommend that you consult with a qualified nutritionist or naturopath before supplementing with any mineral so they can advise you on the appropriate dose for your needs.


Improve your immune system and skin health.


Zinc is an essential mineral that is required for hundreds of bodily functions such as immune and skin health, blood sugar balance, and digestion. Increase your zinc levels by eating zinc-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.


Magnesium


Do you frequently experience muscle cramps or twitching eyes?


Do you get a lot of migraines?


Or do you always crave chocolate?


You could be magnesium deficient.


Magnesium is a mineral that is required for over 300 chemical reactions in the body, including blood sugar regulation and heart pumping. It is also an important co-factor nutrient for other minerals, such as chromium and calcium, assisting them in their functions. These other minerals are ineffective without magnesium.


Here are ten signs that you may be magnesium deficient:


  • Fatigue

  • Eye twitching, muscle spasms, agitated feet, and leg cramps (including at night)

  • Cravings for sugar or chocolate (cacao beans are high in magnesium)

  • four. constipation

  • Premenstrual Tension (PMT) and menstrual cramps

  • Consistent headaches or migraines

  • Depression or a bad mood

  • Having a nervous, tense, or anxious feeling

  • Sleep problems, particularly difficulty falling asleep

  • Cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure or irregular heartbeat


What is the purpose of magnesium?


Magnesium is required for a wide range of bodily functions, including the production of cellular energy and the transmission of nerve impulses, as well as the maintenance of a healthy immune system.


The following are the primary advantages of taking magnesium:


  • Enhances your energy levels. Magnesium, along with B vitamins and CoQ10, stimulates your cells to produce energy.

  • Reduces stress and improves mood. Low serotonin levels are linked to low magnesium levels. This is the feel-good hormone that makes you happy and relaxed.

  • By counteracting the contracting effects of calcium, it relaxes your muscles and stops cramping. Both minerals work together to contract and relax your body's muscles, including your heart.

  • Sugar cravings and diabetes are avoided by balancing blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity. Magnesium is required to quickly transport sugar into your cells so that your body can perform its functions.

  • Increases the strength and health of your bones. Magnesium activates calcium and Vitamin D, allowing these nutrients to work together to grow and repair bones.

  • Alkalinizes your body and keeps your PH levels stable so you don't become too acidic.

  • Helps you sleep and feel less anxious by producing GABA, a neurotransmitter that aids in switching off by calming your mind and relaxing your body.

  • To keep hydrated. Magnesium, like sodium, potassium, and calcium, is an important electrolyte required for water balance in the body.

  • Migraines are avoided. Migraine sufferers typically have low intracellular magnesium levels. When magnesium levels are low, arteries leading to the brain constrict and chemicals are released into the bloodstream, resulting in pain sensitivity.


What obstructs Magnesium absorption?


Drinking coffee and alcohol, smoking, and eating junk food deplete your body of essential nutrients, particularly magnesium.

Eating calcium-rich foods alongside magnesium-rich foods reduces the amount of magnesium your body absorbs. Both of these minerals compete with one another. It's best to eat these foods two hours apart, two hours apart.

Vitamin D deficiency, as vitamin D is a co-factor nutrient required for magnesium absorption in the intestine. Your ability to absorb magnesium will be reduced if your vitamin D levels are low.

Cooking vegetables can cause mineral loss, especially if they are boiled, fried, or heated to high temperatures.


What foods are high in magnesium?


Magnesium can be found naturally in a variety of foods. However, as a result of food processing techniques and mineral-depleted soils, some foods are devoid of magnesium (and other essential minerals) by the time they reach our plates.


This is why it's critical to consume foods in their natural state and to buy organic whenever possible.


Here is a list of foods high in magnesium:


  • Green leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, kale, chard, green peas)

  • Raspberries and bananas

  • Avocado\sFigs

  • Peanuts, cashews, and almonds

  • Lentils, chickpeas, and beans (kidney beans, black beans)

  • Wholegrains and quinoa (buckwheat, millet, bran, brown rice)

  • Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds

What dosage of Magnesium should you take?


The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) varies by gender, age, and special needs such as pregnancy or chronic conditions.


  • A general rule is as follows:

  • Men (aged 19 and up): 400-420mg per day

  • Women over the age of 19: 320 - 360mg per day

  • Children (ages 1 to 18): 85-300mg per day, depending on age.

  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding: 350-400mg per day

  • Magnesium citrate is the best form of magnesium to take because it is highly bioavailable, which means it can easily absorb into the cells. Because magnesium oxide is poorly absorbed, it should be avoided (yet frequently used in many cheap supplements).


Before taking any mineral supplement, I recommend consulting with a qualified nutritionist or naturopath to determine the appropriate dose. Doses can vary depending on the needs of the individual.


Calcium


It's a common misconception that avoiding dairy products contributes to calcium deficiency. The dairy industry has led the public to believe that milk and dairy products are high in calcium. This is a legend.


Yes, dairy is high in calcium; however, eating  or drinking it will deplete your calcium levels and contribute to a variety of health problems. Calcium is a mineral that is abundant in plant-based foods due to the soil in which they are grown. Grazing animals obtain calcium by eating calcium-rich plants. In this article, we'll look at the role of calcium in the body as well as the true cause of calcium deficiency. You'll discover how vitamin D affects calcium and how to prevent calcium loss.


What role does calcium play in the body?


Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, accounting for 1.5 - 2% of body weight and 39% of mineral content. The majority of calcium is found in bones and teeth, but the body uses calcium for a variety of purposes.


Calcium aids in:


  • Build, grow, and maintain strong bones and teeth. Calcium, like vitamin D, helps to maintain bone density.

  • Control muscle contraction. Calcium and magnesium work together to relax and contract muscles.

  • Stop excessive bleeding by assisting with blood clotting.

  • Maintain normal blood pressure and heart rate. Calcium aids in the contraction and proper function of the heart muscle.

  • Improve nerve signaling so that cells can communicate with one another.

  • The body's calcium requirement varies greatly throughout the life cycle. Children require more as their bones develop and grow. Women require additional calcium during pregnancy, lactation, and menopause to maintain bone mass.

What factors contribute to calcium deficiency?


Understanding the root cause and why the body is reacting in this way, as with any deficiency in the body, is critical. The cause is frequently multifactorial. Many people believe that calcium deficiency is caused by a lack of calcium (from dairy), but this is not the case.


The following are some of the most common causes of calcium deficiency:


  • A high-acid diet rich in meat, fish, dairy, sugar, refined carbohydrates (pasta, pizza, bread, cakes, and biscuits), fried foods, and grains. There is a lot of evidence that acidity in the body can cause bone mineral loss and calcium to be drawn from the bones to buffer the acidity.

  • A high protein and salt intake can cause the kidneys to excrete calcium.

  • Caffeine and caffeinated beverages reduce calcium absorption.

  • Fizzy drinks contain phosphoric acid, which is used to enhance flavor, giving the drink a tangy flavor. Phosphoric acid not only raises the acid load, but it has also been linked to bone density loss by interfering with calcium absorption.

  • Low calcium intake during childhood limits the ability of the bones to reach their optimal mass and density. The best way to protect against age-related bone loss is to have dense bones.

  • When consumed in excess, alcohol can disrupt the calcium balance in the body and deplete vitamin D levels.

  • Calcium absorption can also be reduced by gastrointestinal dysfunction and certain medications.


Vitamin D's Role in Bone Health


The body absorbs approximately 30% of the calcium consumed. Vitamin D is required for calcium metabolism; it increases calcium absorption in the intestines. A lack of vitamin D for an extended period of time can result in bone mineral density loss and weaker bones. The elderly, pregnant and breastfeeding women, teenagers, and those with limited sun exposure are the most vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency.

When exposed to sunlight, the skin produces vitamin D; however, the amount produced depends on a number of factors, including the time of day, latitude, season, skin pigmentation, and sunscreen. We produce less vitamin D during the winter months because our exposure to sunlight is reduced. People who live in countries with long winters, such as the United Kingdom and Ireland, are more likely to have low vitamin D levels than those who live in sunnier places, such as Australia.


When blood vitamin D levels are too low, vitamin D supplementation is required. We recommend getting a blood test and consulting with your healthcare practitioner about the appropriate dose before taking any supplements.


How to Prevent a Calcium Deficiency


Consume a whole-food, balanced diet that includes calcium-rich plant-based foods such as:


  • Kale, cress, collard green, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts are examples of dark green leafy and cruciferous vegetables.

  • Sesame seeds, hazelnuts, and almonds

  • Red and white beans, chickpeas, and lentils

  • Figs, dried

  • Increase your vegetable intake to alkalinize your diet. Leafy greens, cucumber, avocado, lemon, celery, seaweed, chia seeds, apples, and kiwi fruit are all alkalizing foods. First thing in the morning, drink a fresh lemon in warm water.

  • For the reasons stated above, avoid acidic foods, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages.

  • Hiking, dancing, and pulling weights are examples of physical activities that stimulate bone growth and increase calcium absorption in the intestine.

  • Healthy eating habits are essential.


Diet has a significant impact on calcium metabolism. Poor dietary habits can reduce calcium absorption and lead to loss of bone mineral density. Drinking carbonated and caffeinated beverages and eating too many acidic foods (including dairy) can increase acid load and leach calcium from bones. To improve calcium absorption, alkalinize the diet, ensure adequate vitamin D levels, and engage in regular exercise.


Iron


Iron deficiency is one of the world's most common nutritional deficiencies. However, many people are unaware that iron overload is extremely common.


What is the significance of iron?


Iron is an essential mineral for oxygen transport; without it, the body cannot produce haemoglobin, the component of red blood cells that transports oxygen to the body's tissues. Iron is also needed for growth and development, to help the immune system fight pathogens, and to help the body produce certain hormones.


What factors contribute to iron deficiency?


Iron deficiency occurs when the body's iron stores are depleted. This could be due to a variety of factors, including:


  • Inadequate intake of iron-rich foods and a poor diet Diets high in sugar, refined carbohydrates (pasta, bread, pastries), and processed/junk food provide little nutrition and essential nutrients, such as iron.

  • Pregnancy depletes a woman's iron stores as blood volume increases to accommodate the growing baby.

  • High-intensity and endurance-type exercise can both contribute to iron loss, especially if excessive sweating occurs. Red blood cells degrade faster and are excreted from the body.

  • Blood loss during menstruation (especially in women with heavy periods), childbirth, or internal bleeding, such as from a peptic ulcer or colorectal cancer.

  • Chronic inflammation reduces iron availability while also altering iron metabolism.

  • Inability to absorb iron as a result of intestinal disorders such as coeliac disease or leaky gut (in which the gut wall becomes inflamed and permeable), as well as surgical removal of a portion of the intestines.

  • Iron deficiency is more common in women, children and teenagers (due to their growing bodies) and frequent blood donors.


Low iron symptoms


  • Extreme fatigue and weakness, particularly when exerted Apathy

  • Skin tone is light.

  • Feeling cold, as well as cold hands and feet

  • Headaches

  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded

  • Breathing difficulties, rapid heartbeat, or palpitations

  • Hair loss and brittle nails

  • Swollen or painful tongue

  • Inability to concentrate or poor concentration

  • Under-eye dark circles

  • Desires for dirt, ice, or clay (known as pica)

  • What you should know about high iron levels


High iron levels are just as problematic as low iron levels. Haemochromatosis is a hereditary iron-loading condition in which the body absorbs more iron than usual from food, resulting in an excess of iron in the body.


This excess iron is stored in various tissues throughout the body, including the liver, heart, and pancreas, which is extremely dangerous. Iron is a pro-oxidant (the opposite of an antioxidant), and too much of it can cause tissue damage and health problems such as liver scarring (cirrhosis), diabetes, congestive heart failure, impotence, and Alzheimer's disease.


Iron is also a bacterial growth factor, which means it helps bacteria grow and multiply. Too much iron in your system can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to infections.


Haemochromatosis is frequently misdiagnosed because the symptoms are similar to those of other conditions such as iron deficiency anaemia. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, weakness, joint pain, hair loss, decreased sex drive, menstrual problems, and abdominal pains.


This is why, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, especially fatigue, you must have your iron levels checked. Never take iron supplements or increase your intake of iron-rich foods without first having a blood test.


Factors influencing iron absorption


Individual factors such as age, gender, health status, and the presence of health conditions such as hemochromatosis or anaemia all influence iron absorption. The source of iron in the diet can also influence absorption. Food contains two types of iron: haem and non-haem. Only animal foods, such as red meat, poultry, and seafood, contain haem iron (oysters, clams and mussels). Plant-based foods contain non-haem iron.


Although haem iron absorbs more efficiently than non-haem iron, eating meat or animal-derived foods is unhealthy because they are highly acidic and inflammatory.


The following factors influence iron absorption:


  • Consuming dairy-based foods (milk, cheese, yoghurt), canned fish with tiny bones (pink salmon, sardines), and calcium-fortified foods and drinks such as store-bought orange juice, bread, and dairy-alternative milk at the same time as iron-rich foods may reduce the amount of iron you absorb.

  • Eggs have been shown to reduce iron absorption by up to 30% due to the presence of phosphoprotein, a compound that binds iron.

  • Phytic acid is found in a variety of plants, including beans, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds. When phytic acid is consumed, it combines with other minerals to form phytates. Because the human body lacks the enzymes needed to break down phytates, nutrients are poorly absorbed. Soaking beans, legumes, and nuts overnight before eating, sprouting, or fermenting them removes phytic acid and improves absorption. Eating garlic and onions together can boost iron and zinc mineral absorption.

  • Tannins, a naturally occurring substance that inhibits iron absorption, are found in tea and coffee. Tea also contains oxalates, a plant compound that binds minerals and prevents them from being absorbed in the body. When drinking tea, avoid eating iron-containing foods or taking iron supplements because your body will not absorb the iron properly.

  • Because vitamin C improves the absorption of non-haem iron, eating foods high in vitamin C alongside (non-haem) iron-rich foods will increase the amount of iron your body absorbs. However, if you have hemochromatosis, you should be aware of this.


Citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, berries, pineapple, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and fresh herbs like parsley and thyme are high in vitamin C.


B12 and folic acid are important cofactor nutrients that help with iron absorption and metabolism. B12 is found in foods such as nutritional yeast, soya and fortified cereals. Broccoli, leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, cabbage), Brussels sprouts, kidney beans, and lentils are all high in folic acid.


Foods high in iron


The following foods are excellent sources of plant-based iron:


Greens with dark leaves (spinach, kale, rocket, parsley)

Broccoli

The pine nuts

Seeds of sunflower

Seeds from a pumpkin

Apricots

Molasses from black strap

White beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans are examples of legumes.

Lentils and chickpeas

Spirulina

Wheat bran


What should you do if your iron levels are abnormally high?


  • Reduce your iron intake and avoid iron-fortified foods like breakfast cereals and bread.

  • Donate blood on a regular basis to reduce the amount of iron in your body. When you donate blood, you lose between 220-250 mg of iron.

  • Avoiding vitamin C supplements, especially if you consume iron-rich foods.

  • Intermittent fasting is extremely beneficial to the body and has been shown to reduce iron concentrations in blood serum as well as stored iron levels. Fasting also reduces inflammation and improves the body's response to insulin.

  • Drink green tea and incorporate rosemary into your diet because both of these herbs contain compounds that inhibit iron absorption.

  • Curcumin, found in turmeric, is an antioxidant that aids in the removal of iron from the body. Turmeric can be eaten with black pepper (which aids absorption) or taken as a tea, capsule, or liquid herbal.

  • Avoid using iron cookware because the iron from the cookware will transfer to the food you're cooking when heated (and subsequently eating).

  • Keep track of your iron levels.


Iron is a mineral that is required for growth and development, oxygenation of cells, and the production of certain hormones in the body. An imbalance in iron levels, whether too high or too low, can cause a variety of health problems. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of iron deficiency or iron overload, consult your doctor as soon as possible and get an iron blood test.



By Dr. Sepi Sefy PhD whom specialises in Herbal Medicine of Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese & Western Herbal Medicine, alongside of Yoga, Nutrition and Phytotherapy.

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