Magnesium: The Most Powerful Relaxation Mineral Available

magnesium

A deficiency in this critical nutrient makes you twice as likely to die as other people, according to a study published in The Journal of Intensive Care Medicine.(i) It also accounts for a long list of symptoms and diseases — which are easily helped and often cured by adding this nutrient. In fact, in my practice, this nutrient is one of my secret weapons against illness. Yet up to half of Americans are deficient in this nutrient and don’t know it.

I’m talking about magnesium.

It is an antidote to stress, the most powerful relaxation mineral available, and it can help improve your sleep.

I find it very funny that more doctors aren’t clued in to the benefits of magnesium, because we use it all the time in conventional medicine. But we never stop to think about why or how important it is to our general health or why it helps our bodies function better.

I remember using magnesium when I worked in the emergency room. It was a critical “medication” on the crash cart. If someone was dying of a life-threatening arrhythmia (or irregular heart beat), we used intravenous magnesium. If someone was constipated or needed to prepare for colonoscopy, we gave them milk of magnesia or a green bottle of liquid magnesium citrate, which emptied their bowels. If pregnant women came in with pre-term labor, or high blood pressure of pregnancy (pre-eclampsia) or seizures, we gave them continuous high doses of intravenous magnesium.

But you don’t have to be in the hospital to benefit from getting more magnesium. You can start taking regular magnesium supplementation today and see results. And in this blog I will explain how. I will outline some of the benefits of magnesium (including improved sleep), outline many of the chronic illnesses associated with a lack of magnesium, and provide you with 13 tips for optimizing your magnesium levels.

The Relaxation Mineral

Think of magnesium as the relaxation mineral. Anything that is tight, irritable, crampy, and stiff — whether it is a body part or an even a mood — is a sign of magnesium deficiency.

This critical mineral is actually responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions and is found in all of your tissues — but mainly in your bones, muscles, and brain. You must have it for your cells to make energy, for many different chemical pumps to work, to stabilize membranes, and to help muscles relax.

That is why the list of conditions that are found related to magnesium deficiency is so long. In fact, there are over 3,500 medical references on magnesium deficiency!

Even so, this mineral is mostly ignored because it is not a drug, even though it is MORE powerful than drugs in many cases. That’s why we use it in the hospital for life-threatening and emergency situations like seizures and heart failure.

You might be magnesium deficient if you have any of the following symptoms:

• Muscle cramps or twitches

• Insomnia

• Irritability

• Sensitivity to loud noises

• Anxiety

• Autism

• ADD

• Palpitations

• Angina

• Constipation

• Anal spasms

• Headaches

• Migraines

• Fibromyalgia

• Chronic fatigue

• Asthma

• Kidney stones

• Diabetes

• Obesity

• Osteoporosis

• High blood pressure

• PMS

• Menstrual cramps

• Irritable bladder

• Irritable bowel syndrome

• Reflux

• Trouble swallowing

Magnesium deficiency has even has been linked to inflammation in the body and higher CRP levels.

In our society, magnesium deficiency is a huge problem. By conservative standards of measurement (blood, or serum, magnesium levels), 65 percent of people admitted to the intensive care unit — and about 15 percent of the general population — have magnesium deficiency.

But this seriously underestimates the problem, because a serum magnesium level is the LEAST sensitive way to detect a drop in your total body magnesium level. So rates of magnesium deficiency could be even higher!

The reason we are so deficient is simple: Many of us eat a diet that contains practically no magnesium — a highly-processed, refined diet that is based mostly on white flour, meat, and dairy (all of which have no magnesium).

When was the last time you had a good dose of sea vegetables (seaweed), nuts, greens, and beans? If you are like most Americans, your nut consumption mostly comes from peanut butter, and mostly in chocolate peanut butter cups.

Much of modern life conspires to help us lose what little magnesium we do in our diet. Magnesium levels are decreased by excess alcohol, salt, coffee, phosphoric acid in colas, profuse sweating, prolonged or intense stress, chronic diarrhea, excessive menstruation, diuretics (water pills), antibiotics and other drugs, and some intestinal parasites. In fact, in one study in Kosovo, people under chronic war stress lost large amounts of magnesium in their urine.

This is all further complicated by the fact that magnesium is often poorly absorbed and easily lost from our bodies. To properly absorb magnesium we need a lot of it in our diet, plus enough vitamin B6, vitamin D, and selenium to get the job done.

A recent scientific review of magnesium concluded, “It is highly regrettable that the deficiency of such an inexpensive, low-toxicity nutrient results in diseases that cause incalculable suffering and expense throughout the world.” (ii) I couldn’t’ have said it better myself.

It is difficult to measure and hard to study, but magnesium deficiency accounts for untold suffering — and is simple to correct. So if you suffer from any of the symptoms I mentioned or have any of the diseases I noted, don’t worry — it is an easy fix!! Here’s how.

Stop Draining Your Body of Magnesium

• Limit coffee, colas, salt, sugar, and alcohol

• Learn how to practice active relaxation

• Check with your doctor if your medication is causing magnesium loss (many high blood pressure drugs or diuretics cause loss of magnesium)

Eat Foods High in Magnesium

Include the following in your diet as often as you can:

• Kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, brazil nuts, dulse, filberts, millet, pecans, walnuts, rye, tofu, soy beans, brown rice, figs, dates, collard greens, shrimp, avocado, parsley, beans, barley, dandelion greens, and garlic

Take Magnesium Supplements

• The RDA (the minimum amount needed) for magnesium is about 300 mg a day. Most of us get far less than 200 mg.

• Some may need much more depending on their condition.

• Most people benefit from 400 to 1,000 mg a day.

• The most absorbable forms are magnesium citrate, glycinate taurate, or aspartate, although magnesium bound to Kreb cycle chelates (malate, succinate, fumarate) are also good.

• Avoid magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and oxide. They are poorly absorbed (and the cheapest and most common forms found in supplements).

• Side effects from too much magnesium include diarrhea, which can be avoided if you switch to magnesium glycinate.

• Most minerals are best taken as a team with other minerals in a multi-mineral formula.

• Taking a hot bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) is a good way to absorb and get much needed magnesium.

• People with kidney disease or severe heart disease should take magnesium only under a doctor’s supervision.

So if you’re coping with the symptoms here, relax! Magnesium is truly a miracle mineral. It is essential for lifelong vibrant health.

Author: Mark Hyman, MD

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We Tried It (and Feel Pretty Relaxed): Float Therapy in a Soundproof, Lightproof, Salt-Water Tank

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What Is It: Just Float is a float therapy center that allows clients to spend an hour effortlessly floating in a private salt-water tanks

Who Tried It: Gabrielle Olya, PEOPLE writer and reporter

Level of Difficulty: 1 (on a scale from 1 to 10) If you can lie down, you can do this!

Walking into Just Float, I was a bit nervous. I had no idea what “float therapy” would be like, and didn’t know if I could actually lie in a tub of salt water for an hour without getting extremely restless.

The floating takes place in a private float room – a walk-in closet sized room filled with 11 inches of water that contains a high quantity of dissolved Epsom salt. Each float room has its own changing area and shower, and anyone using the tank is instructed to shower before and after the float.

Once I was washed up, I entered the float room, which is soundproof and lightproof. The water is heated to 93.5 degrees – the exact temperature of the surface of your skin – so it was extremely comfortable to be in (and I am usually always cold). As soon as I lied down, I immediately floated to the surface.

To begin the one-hour float session, you press a large button on the wall, which turns the lights in the room off. Soft music begins to play. I was uncomfortable with the complete darkness at first, so I opted to keep low lighting on, which I did by pressing the button again.

During this time, it’s recommended you move around until you find a comfortable floating position. Then, you just float, and focus on your breathing. The music turns off after the first few minutes, and soon it is just you and your breath.

Once I got more comfortable, I turned the lights completely off, and the only thing I was fully aware of was my breathing. I felt like I was floating on a cloud (or what I imagine that would feel like!) since the water was at such a perfect temperature that you forget you are actually in a tub of water.

“We’re reducing stimulation to your brain and slowing it down, and eventually after a period of time in there, it’s almost turning off,” explains Jim Hefner, owner of Just Float. “These states are what promote deep relaxation and a meditative-like response.”

I admit I had trouble turning my brain off completely, but there were long stretches of time when I was able to not think about anything, and just enjoy being there with absolutely zero distractions.

“Float therapy is beneficial for people who have tried meditating and may have been unsuccessful at it,” says Hefner. “People often in their meditation practice get uncomfortable or get distracted by sounds or lights – we’re taking care of all of that for you.”

The Verdict: My float therapy session was unlike anything I had ever experienced before – it’s really something you have to try yourself to understand. Float therapy promises to promote mindfulness and relieve stress, and I truly felt an extreme sense of calm when my float session was over. While I was initially worried about doing nothing for an hour since I am someone who likes constant stimulation, doing absolutely nothing felt so luxurious during my time in the float room. I left feeling more relaxed than I had all week!

 

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I Survived My Terrifying Hour in a Sensory-Deprivation Tank

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Before I visited Brooklyn’s new Lift/Next Level “float spa,” my entire understanding of sensory-deprivation tanks was limited to an episode ofThe Simpsons: In “Make Room for Lisa,” Lisa Simpson floats in a coffin-size tub and hallucinates that she’s entered the body of her cat, Snowball.

So, as I waited in the Lift/Next Level lobby, I was curious to read the non-cartoon accounts written in the spa’s “guest book.” Some visitors described experiencing intense relaxation, a state that was almost sleep but not. Some people said they’d hallucinated and had out-of-body experiences. The more colorful reports compared the experience to dying, being reborn, or dying and then being reborn multiple times in the hour. Some people wrote that it was just better than taking a crapload of MDMA-spiked shrooms. Most thanked the Universe for the life-changing hour — and the saltwater for softening their skin.

These all sounded like ringing endorsements to me. I’m a fan of Brooklyn trends with New Age roots (see also: crystals, tarot), and before they floated off into relative obscurity, the benefits of sensory-deprivation tanks were widely lauded ("Float the pounds away!" "Find God!" "Most people liked it!") if not totally scientifically grounded. The first commercial “float spa” opened in 1979 in Beverly Hills, California, a few years after the inventor Dr. John C. Lilly developed the first consumer-friendly tank. It was called “Samadhi” — Sanskrit for higher consciousness. 

The modern incarnation I encountered was a Zen-like space in Cobble Hill, where you must take off your shoes and everybody whisper-speaks peaceful things at you before you begin your journey. My journey, I was whisper-told, would start in one of the spa’s “Ocean Float Rooms,” as opposed to the claustrophobia-inducing coffinlike pod that most people think of when they imagine a sensory-deprivation experience. (Thanks,The Simpsons.)

And then I was alone. Naked, scrubbed clean, wounds lubed, facing the little white entryway that led to the Ocean Float Tank. It looked like the door to a kiln, or a wood-fire oven. I wondered: What awaited me on the other side during my hour of floating? What would I discover when stripped of all sensory information?

Initially, what I discovered was where exactly all my unhealed cuts were: Nothing like a thousand pounds of Epsom salt mixed into ten inches of water to remind you of that blister on the back of your foot. Once I was situated — an inflatable neck pillow supporting my head, the water cradling my floating body like a warm-liquid Barcalounger — I tried to focus on my breathing and the LED stars. At first, all was well. My body floated around like a little buoy. I felt like I was headed someplace spiritual, someplace deeper. I decided to turn off all the lights and enter full sensory-deprivation mode, which is when things started to go to hell.

Lying in the darkness, I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t hear anything save for my own breathing and the drip of the tank’s filter system. I adjusted my leg, flooding another cut with saltwater, and suddenly all I could focus on was an intense burning spreading through my ankle as the saltwater entered the wound. Is this sepsis? I thought. Will I get sepsis? What is sepsis, even?

Then a little bead of saltwater rolled into my ear and I started to panic. My whisper guide had pointed out some vinegar that I was supposed to use to flush my ears in case saltwater got into them and I hadn’t asked what would happen if saltwater did remain in my ear. Now I was having a flashback to some girl at camp when I was 10: She’d gotten river water in her ears and for whatever reason it made her barf every day. They took her away to the infirmary, and we never saw her again. Was I going to die barfing? And is this what it would have felt like to be ON THETITANIC???

I started thinking about how many thoughts my brain was able to form in mere seconds. A voice from somewhere else in my brain started commenting on those thoughts, and judging me for not being able to stop thinking them, thereby forming more very loud thoughts. I couldn’t figure out how many minutes or hours I’d been in the tank, and that’s when I realized there was no panic button in here, and everything became a jumble of death-barf-panic-sepsis-what-is-sepsis thoughts. Somewhere, from the depths of my consciousness, a voice rolled forth like Simba’s father parting the clouds in The Lion King.

“Allison,” it said. “You are better than this. You once took hallucinogenics, walked down Flatbush Avenue in broad daylight, and maintained. This, you can do.”

And then I discovered how to find peace and calm in a situation that feels very much like dying.

1. Recite the benefits of the experience like a mantra: Relaxation, Rejuvenation, Hallucinations, Smooth Skin. Relaxation, Rejuvenation, Hallucinations, Smooth Skin. While reciting, make the voice in your head slow down like an unwinding tape reel.

2. Sing yourself a song from your favorite album. Unfortunately, the only song I could sing in totality was that new The Weeknd song “Can’t Feel My Face,” which was a little too on the nose — I’d reached a stage where I literally couldn’t feel my body or tell if my eyes were opened or closed. I was angry at myself for being so clichéd.

 3. Focus on those weird patterns your eyes make when trying to adjust to darkness. While lying in the dark, I could see all these purple bursts of color — they felt like they were in my eyeball, man. I was convinced I was watching my neural pathways work, and that those neural pathways were connected to galaxies, and we’re all just one with the universe, really. Things got real deep.

4. Fall asleep. Which I think I did? Though I also could have been in some semi-asleep, semi-awake state. My spirit also could have left my body, traveled the universe, seen the future and past, and returned to me with a deeper emotional knowledge. Who knows? But I was very calm and had some intense visions.

I was in the middle of a vision in which my boss was waving a broom and yelling at me with my mother’s voice. (Perhaps the spa should also offer on-site therapy because that was weird.) Vision-boss dropped the broom she was holding, and the clatter — which turned out to be wind-chime music being piped into my tank — jolted me back into my body. My hour was up.

I turned on the light, snapping back into semi-consciousness in the harshest way possible. (I now feel bad for newborns.) I showered again, enjoyed a glass of cold water, whisper-bid the Lift spa employees farewell, and entered the real world again. I felt like I’d smoked a huge joint or taken a sociable amount of mushrooms, but either way, everything was weird and wobbly.

Before entering my Ocean Float Room, I had been told that the experience would heighten my senses: The world would seem more vibrant, so I should think carefully about what I wanted to see, feel, hear, taste, and feel immediately after leaving. If I had it my way, I’d have eaten pizza and had sex, but sadly, it was a workday. I biked off into Brooklyn, which smelled extra like pee.

 

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Arthritis Treatment with Floatation Tanks

 

ArthritisFloatationAnyone with arthritis is excited about news of the flotation tank to float away pain. Arthritis sufferers are lining up to try this natural remedy. Epsom salts have long been recognized as a natural remedy for aching muscles and joints. Combine Epsom salts with the relaxation of a flotation tank and you have one serious joint and muscle relaxer.

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13 Things You'll Learn When Floating In NYC's New Sensory Deprivation Pods

(courtesy Lift: Next Level Floats)

There's a new place in Carroll Gardens where, for $99, you can experience pretty much complete sensory deprivation as well as Space Camp-level weightlessness as you float alone for an hour in total darkness in a large pod of extremely salty mineral water.
When I first found out that Lift: Next Level Floats, which claims to be the largest sensory deprivation center on the East Coast, had opened up above a bar near my apartment, I immediately recognized it as the exact opposite of the Internet and made an appointment. Here is what you'll learn if you try it—and I highly recommend it!

1. You Will Really Float (It's Impossible to Sink)
When I entered Lift, which is in a sunny, friendly, former yoga studio covered in wood and glass, I was greeted by co-owner David Leventhal, who walked me through every option and step of the floating process. Lift offers different levels of floating, ranging from a more open large tub/shower area with a light show, to its three pods, each in their own rooms, which can be used with or without colored lights, with or without music, and with or without the pod being fully closed. I wanted the full experience, so I chose one of the pod rooms, no music, full darkness, closed pod. (Sensory deprivation seems like a "go big or go home" situation if there ever was one.)
After I explained to David that I first heard of the concept of a Sensory Deprivation Tank from an episode of Frasier in which Niles Crane floats in one, I also threw in that I am a "strong swimmer." I was kind of half-joking, but David assured me that not only do you not need to know how to swim to float, it's basically impossible to submerge yourself. People even fall asleep in it all the time. I actually knew most of this, because a few years ago the brilliant Mary HK Choi wrote hilariously about "New York's Last Sensory Deprivation Tank," which was in a guy's apartment in Chelsea. When I mentioned it to David he said "Oh was this Sam's tank?" I was delighted to imagine that the floating world is a small one and everyone is friends. The cocktail party stories they must have when they get together!
2. They Really Don't Want You to Pee in the Pod
After showing me the different levels and rooms to choose from, and showing me the process by which the pods are fully cleaned after each use (the entire place was absolutely immaculate), David gestured towards a door behind the reception desk: "Now one last very important part: the restroom!"
Oh, right! Everyone has to very officially pee first. But because I live literally two minutes away from Lift, I was...all set! I mean, I really had nothing. You know when you work in an open office, and sometimes you just need to get away from people and screens but you don't actually have to use the bathroom so you go in there and just sit and maybe cry a little and then someone else comes in and you're like "Oh right, I have to make a pee noise now"? (You know, that thing everyone does?) It was like that. I survived it.
3. The Celebrities Already Know About It
"You're going to get some famous people in here," I said with an unearned insidery tone to David and his co-owner Gina Antioco. "Oh, we already have!," they told me, and listed off some names. Lift had been open for just a few weeks, but apparently they'd already had visits from a bunch of members of the cast of Orange is the New Black, and Tunde from TV On the Radio. Cool! (Also, apparently Joe Rogan is an enthusiastic fan and advocate of floating in general, which, sure. He seems like a...relaxed guy?)
4. No But Really, They Really Don't Want You to Pee in the Pod
Just before I began my floating adventure, I asked David if I could have a glass of water from the cool inviting lemon water dispenser in the lounge area. He hesitated. "We just want to make sure nobody is...overhydrated." I really wanted to just say "Listen, I'm not gonna pee in the tank, but I truly appreciate how important a pee-free tank is to everyone here, because it's important to me too." I drank a little water and spoiler alert: I did not pee or want to pee in the tank. [ED: I have never wanted to pee in a sensory deprivation tank more than I do right now.]
5. It's Better With Your Phone OFF
I actually remembered to turn the sound on my phone off, but not the vibration, so I did get a text in the middle of the pod experience. Oops! I knew it wasn't important though, so it didn't ruin anything (my texts are never important.) But I highly recommend completely turning your phone off so you at least don't have a moment of distraction.
6. You'll Get Into a Pod (Duh)
So you go into your pod room, lock the door if you're a weird paranoid person, get naked, take a quick shower (in the same room as the pod—shampoo, conditioner and body wash provided), and step into the approximately foot or so of water and pull the pod down over yourself and lay down on top of the water on your back. Then you press a button and the lights slowly go off as a cheesy female sci-fi voice welcomes you to the pod (David prepares you for the cheesy voice during his walk-through; apparently it comes with the pods and can't be turned off. It's fine, though. I kind of liked it.) You have the option of pushing a button to listen to, like, “yoga music,” but that's adding a sense and we're trying to deprive ourselves of those, aren't we?
Then it gets very dark, and you become, briefly, extremely self-aware: you are naked on the second floor of a building above a bar in the middle of a weekday, in complete darkness, floating weightlessly. If you're me, you wonder if there are protocols in place in the event of a terrorist attack (or as I tamed it down when I spoke with David and Gina later, "a blackout"). Like, will they leave me in the pod? Will they bang on the door?
Then, these thoughts will give way to the realization that the fact that this is the first thing you're thinking about in this relaxing experience is exactly why you need it.
7. Don't Forget to Set Your Intentions!
I actually forgot to set my intentions until about five minutes in, but I forgave myself and set them immediately. I wanted to: relax, not be bored, not get salt water in my eyes, understand my place in the universe, and come up with a cool mystery idea to pitch to the Mystery Show podcast.
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(courtesy Lift: Next Level Floats)
8. Explore Your Surroundings
One of the things with these floating tanks is that the water is calibrated to your body temperature, so you're not supposed to able to tell which of your limbs are in the water and which are not. This was mostly the case for me, but the water—which is full of one thousand pounds of Epsom Salts and rich in magnesium, which soaks into your skin and relaxes you (Really, it's science!)—feels very silky, like you're floating in Cetaphil Cleanser, or lube. You have to exert yourself slightly to, say, push your foot to the floor of the pod. Physically, it feels very good, like a hot tub but replace the extreme heat and bubbles with the ability to literally completely relax your body. Everyone says it's womb-like, because it probably is.
I had taken the provided earplugs in with me, but I decided they were for pussies and not "the full experience," and so I held them in my hand. All I could hear was my own heartbeat, really loud (well, except for the texting incident.)
9. Go Ahead, Think All Your Dumb Thoughts. The Pod Will Wait.
After exploring my surroundings and setting my intentions and being too self-aware for a few minutes, I found myself thinking thoughts ranging from grocery lists to to-do lists to worries that I might forget to mention Niles Crane later when I wrote this up.
But as a graduate of a few episodes of a 10-minute meditation app, I knew not to judge these thoughts and to let them flow over me or whatever, and guess what? It worked! For a very long time, I had absolutely no thoughts at all. I had never reached anything close to this state on purpose, and I think the cool thing about these pods is that they sort of force you into a meditative state without you having to try or do any work, which really appeals to me. (If I were to come up with an ad slogan for floating, it would be something like "Meditation for lazy people!")
10. You Might See Stars!
During the time in which I had no thoughts, I saw stars. I tried to make out the constellations, but I've lived in New York City for fifteen years and I guess I don't remember them well enough, but I definitely "saw" some stars! This is apparently not uncommon. The entire experience wasn't psychedelic, but parts of it definitely were.
11. Don't Do This One Weird Thing I Did
Somewhere around, who knows, minute 45? I began to wonder if I was truly in complete darkness. I mean, I knew I wasn't, because I've been on those cave tours where they take you down and turn off the lights and tell you that this is probably the only time in your life that you will experience complete darkness.
But I wanted to know, so I did what any idiot would do: I lifted my hand out of the water and waved it in front of my face. I confirmed that I was in pretty almost complete darkness (it's hard to tell because your brain knows where your hand is even if you can't see it), but I DID drip water in my eyes this way. And because I'd insisted on keeping my contact lenses in (you know, in case of a terrorist attack or "blackout" situation), there was some definite stinging going on. It stung. But, like, I overcame it? Mind over matter? I just allowed my eyes to sting and trusted my tear ducts to clear the water out, and they did within about 30 seconds. (But for real do not do that!)
12. Boredom Might Happen But It Will Be Brief
I will be honest: while I loved this experience, I did get a teensy bit bored during probably the last five minutes or so. As I squeezed the waterlogged earplugs in my left hand, I started to think of them as my friends, like Wilson in Cast Away. I wondered if I might start talking to them. But this was very brief!
13. The Ending is DRAMATIC!
When the lights came on, I said "AWWWW" like in a theater when the movie suddenly shuts off due to technical difficulties. I wasn't ready to leave my pod paradise. The cheesy voice thanked me for floating in her brand of pod, and I got out, showered, put my clothes back on and walked out into the lounge area to sit on an nice couch, drink water and chat with David and Gina. I felt euphoric and happy and very soft-skinned for the rest of the day.
As I walked home slowly, enjoying the lovely day and noticing clouds more than usual, etc, I realized that one of the non-thoughts I had in the pod would be absolutely perfect for the Mystery Show podcast, and I'm sending them an email today. Intentions, achieved!

By Lindsay Robertson

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