Your Burning Multivitamin Questions: The Ultimate Vitamin And Supplement FAQ

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Articles, Supplements

You're about to read a post written by Tom Nikkola, CSCS, CISSN, Pn1.

Tom is the Vice President and General Manager at Thorne. He has more than 13 years of experience in nutrition, metabolism, lab testing, nutritional supplements, and other aspects of health and fitness.  He has experience working with rneusands of fitness-minded individuals and has written over 400 articles on health, fitness, and performance. Tom helped create the Thorne brand and now manages it, and was interviewed in the recent podcast episode “How To Know If Your Supplement Is Safe, Legal And Contains What It Says It Contains.


Since Ben Greenfield first posted his article “A Quest to Find the Best Multi-Vitamin on the Face of the Planet” both Ben and Thorne have received a number of excellent questions and some great feedback from all the people who have been using the Multi AM/PM Complex Ben talks about in that post.

What you're about to read will address most of your burning questions (and of course, you can leave your comments below the article if you have more questions!).

Before we jump in, I should mention that it’s a huge privilege to have Ben on the Thorne Advisory Board.  Ben joins Dr. John Berardi, Joel Jamieson, Bob Seebohar, Dr. Rachelle Viinberg, and Jaime Martinez as a group of educated experts in our industry who will help shape the direction of new and existing Thorne products and services.

Now, let's jump right into your questions…


General Questions

Are Thorne products available to be shipped for internationally?

Yes. We have warehouses in the United States and Canada, so shipping rates are more reasonable in these two countries, but we have just negotiated significantly better shipping rates for other international shipments.

We heard from a lot of Ben’s followers in the United Kingdom and Australia.  You will see much better international shipping rates in the next couple weeks.

Are your manufacturing practices third-party certified?

Yes. In addition to flawlessly completing two FDA inspections in the last three years, Thorne Research is the only U.S. manufacturer that has completed all three levels of certification issued by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of the Government of Australia.

The TGA certification affirms that Thorne Research’s manufacturing practices are sufficient to export pharmaceutical products to Australia if that were our business.

We chose to use the TGA certification process over NSF because the TGA certification process is more rigorous and is accepted in more countries. You can view the TGA certification here.

Who is the Thorne line of products intended for?

The Thorne product line has been created for high-calibre fitness professionals and their clients, as well as top-flight athletes. Customers include personal trainers, sports nutritionists, sports dietitians, and others – and the clients they work with and advise.

Individuals who use Thorne products are generally healthy, on a path toward even better health, and are aspiring to optimize their health through nutrition, exercise, and good lifestyle habits.

On the other hand, anyone who has a significant, pre-existing health condition, or a woman who is pregnant should always consult with his or her health-care practitioner before beginning any nutrition supplementation program.

In any event, nutritional supplements like those in the Thorne product line are not intended to treat or mitigate a disease condition, so this is advice consistent with FDA guidance to the industry.

Thorne Research has more than 20,000 active health-care practitioner accounts, so the Thorne Research name is well-known in the health-care practitioner space.  These practitioners mainly recommend the Thorne Research product line to their patients.


Multi AM/PM Complex Questions

What is unique about Multi AM/PM Complex?

The Multi AM/PM Complex formula contains a number of vitamins and minerals that have excellent bioactivity profiles; for example, active B vitamins like methylcobalamin (rather than cyancobalamin) and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (also known as 5MTHF or L-methyl folate) rather than folic acid.

This premier formula also includes mineral bisglycinates. These are mineral chelates, they are only available through Albion®, and they demonstrate superior absorption properties compared to other chelates or mineral salts.

Three other ingredients are included to support energy levels and recovery from exercise and everyday stress:  green tea phytosome, curcumin phytosome, and Relora®, a patented blend of phellodendron and magnoliaextracts.

You can read a more thorough overview of the formula in our blog post How to Build a Better Multi or listen to Ben's podcast at  Quest to Find the Best Multi-Vitamin on the Face of the Planet.

Are capsules absorbed as well as liquids or powders?

There is no research showing that powdered or liquid supplemental nutrients are any more effective than capsules are.

Trying to draw a distinction between capsules, on the one hand, and liquids and powders, on the other hand, is no more than a marketing angle. The idea being suggested is that liquids and powders are somehow being absorbed better or quicker because there is no “barrier” between these forms and the environment of the stomach.

However, this is marketing hype rather than science. The vegetarian capsules used in Multi AM/PM Complex – made by Capsugel® – are designed to break down in the stomach in the first 10 minutes following ingestion.

The stomach normally maintains a very acidic environment (a pH close to 1.0), although it can be higher in individuals who have a compromised digestive system. Capsugel’s vegetarian capsules have been tested at pH levels as high as 6.8, which is the approximate pH of the intestines and of drinking water, and have been shown to break down in about 10 minutes in those environments as well.

The difference in how well a capsule, or a powder or a liquid-based nutritional supplement is absorbed has much more to do with the forms of nutrients used and whether or not unnecessary ingredients, such as magnesium stearate, are added during the manufacturing process.

What if someone doesn’t swallow pills well?

When necessary, the capsules in Multi AM/PM Complex can certainly – and easily – be pulled apart and mixed into a beverage.

We understand that some individuals simply don’t like swallowing capsules. We get that.

But based on the 30 years we have been making products for health-care practitioners who work with patients who have a number of physical and medical challenges, this has not been a significant issue.

Is Multi AM/PM Complex safe for a woman who is pregnant?

We recommend that any woman who is pregnant or trying to become pregnant should always consult with her health-care practitioner before starting any supplementation program.

Pregnancy creates specific nutritional needs, and Multi AM/PM Complex was not designed to be a prenatal supplement. In these cases, we recommend any woman to use a good prenatal nutritional supplement, such as Thorne Research’s Basic Prenatal, both before and during pregnancy.

The Basic Prenatal multi-vitamin will actually be available through in the near future.

Was there a reason behind not including more magnesium in the product?

There are a couple of reasons we did not include more magnesium.

First, in order to add more magnesium, we would have to take something else out of the formula. Because magnesium bisglycinate is a bulky ingredient, adding an incremental amount of magnesium would mean we would need to remove a fairly significant amount of something else.

We believe the formula is more powerful as-is, than were we to remove something instead, such as the awesome extras like green tea phytosome, curcumin phytosome, or Relora.

We believe these extra nutrients are very important for active, fitness-minded individuals and athletes.

Second, many of the nutritionists and fitness professionals who advise us recommend that a larger amount of magnesium be used just before bedtime. This higher intake of magnesium supports better sleep, reduces restless leg syndrome, and helps individuals relax more in general.

It’s unlikely you would experience these same benefits if you were to take all of your supplemental magnesium in your multi-vitamin product.

Is copper harmful in a multi-vitamin?

In an excessive amount, like most other nutrients, copper can become toxic. Copper toxicity is rare and very rarely the result of supplementing with a normal amount of copper. Copper toxicity usually arises from being exposed to very high levels from excessive supplementation or from an environmental condition.

Multi AM/PM Complex includes 1,500 mcg (1.5 mg), which is a very safe and appropriate daily amount of this essential nutrient. This amount is well below the upper limit level 10,000 mcg set by the Institutes of Medicine.

Do you have more than two forms of vitamin E in the formula?

Yes. Vitamin E occurs in many forms in nature, but the only form that appropriately can be measured in International Units (IUs) is d-alpha tocopherol. In Multi AM/PM Complex, D-gamma tocopherol is also listed further down the Supplement Fact label as part of a mixed tocopherol complex.

The formula includes 48 mg of d-gamma topherol, which is an appreciable level without going overboard.

Multi AM/PM Complex does include other forms of tocopherols, but the available current research shows d-alpha and d-gamma are the most important for health.

What is curcumin and is it safe?  Also, what is unique about the curcumin you use?

Yes, curcumin is safe. It’s one of the most-studied botanicals in the world, with more than 5,000 years of use and over 3,000 published papers and studies on this one botanical!

Curcumin is a key constituent of turmeric, the yellow spice used in Indian and Thai foods.

Curcumin’s effects on the body’s metabolism are widespread, and include supporting normal levels of inflammation, promoting muscle tissue recovery after damage, stimulating fat oxidation, and modulating serotonin levels. Click here to read more about why Curcumin may be the Most Amazing Botanical in the World.

Interestingly, just today, as I’m writing this post, another technical study was published on Indena’s curcumin phytosome complex ― the one used in Multi AM/PM Complex.

This study, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition shows that, in addition to all of the other amazing things curcumin can do, it can help relieve or reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) following exercise. Awesome! For those who are interested in higher doses of curcumin phytosome, we offer Rebound, which includes 500 mg of curcumin phytosome per capsule.

Some individuals do claim that curcumin can interfere with medications; however, this is only theoretical and has not yet been proven in any research.

What is Relora, and is it safe?

Relora is a proprietary combination of phellodendron and magnolia extracts that is an ingredient in Multi AM/PM Complex. Like many prescription products and natural products, it has not been studied on women who are pregnant, so we do not recommend it for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.

Acute toxicity studies on Relora have been done in animals and there is no evidence of toxicity at levels well above those that are used in products for humans.

Relora does act as a mild sedative, which is the reason it is put in the evening formula. It is intended to support relaxation and restful sleep.

Although Relora is not known to interact with any drugs, because of this action it should not be used with medications that cause drowsiness or sedation.

And there is no credible scientific evidence to suggest that Relora is a problem if one also drinks alcoholic beverages.

As with all other nutritional supplements, Relora should be discontinued prior to surgery.

Do nutrients in the formula compete for absorption with one another?

The idea of nutrient absorption competition is not new.

I remember when Life Time Fitness first introduced their multi-vitamin formulas, they were formulated with certain nutrients to be taken at different times to avoid possible competition. That was in 2002.

During the time I was responsible for LTF’s supplements, a number of enhancements were made to their formulas, including the multi-vitamins.

One change was to move away from the nutrient competition concept because it didn’t seem as well-supported as once believed.

Competition for absorption has not been proved to be an issue for optimal health. If we did think it was an issue, it would be easy to separate nutrients into the two different formulas that make up Multi AM/PM Complex, but our Medical Affairs team is not convinced this is appropriate.

Following this train of thought, it would require that individuals would need to modify the timing of eating the foods in their diet in general, because their diet is still the major source of nutrients. Combining certain foods would mean that nutrients would not be absorbed. Nobody has ever suggested that.

In addition, it is recommended that a multi-vitamin be taken with a meal for maximal absorption, so specific diets would be required when taking various formulas to eliminate the chance of nutrient competition. This is neither necessary nor practical.

In the opinion of our Medical Affairs team, based on all of the research they have reviewed, we do not see nutrient competition interfering with the effectiveness of any Thorne product, including Multi AM/PM Complex.


Wrapping it Up

We are excited about the huge response and positive feedback we have received on Multi AM/PM Complex from those who have been using it the past few months.

We know there is a lot of misinformation floating around online about the use of multi-vitamin products in specific and nutritional supplements in general. So if you have a question about any Thorne product, please contact us at [email protected]. Depending on what your question might be, either our customer service team, or a member of our Medical Affairs team, or I will answer it for you.

If you haven’t already started using Thorne products, you can order Multi AM/PM Complex or other Thorne products by clicking here. You’ll receive 10 percent off when you order through Ben Greenfield as a Thorne Affiliate and Advisory Team member. If you yourself are a personal trainer, nutritionist, physician, etc. and your credentials qualify you to become a Thorne affiliate, you can register as a Thorne Affiliate here.

Thanks for reading, and leave your questions and comments below!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

59 thoughts on “Your Burning Multivitamin Questions: The Ultimate Vitamin And Supplement FAQ

  1. Fabian says:

    Would you recommend taking Iron or zinc supplements or is this multivitamin enough?

    And I’m assuming you should still take fish oil or is that no longer required?


  2. Ernesto_ says:

    Great article! I've been looking for a probiotic and came upon this article. Now I feel like I should try this multivitamin first. I currently take nothing. I haven't taken pills for over ten years. Do you suggest just starting with the multivitamin or do you recommend adding a probiotic? If so which one? Im a 35 year old competitive long course age grouper and trail racer. I also do some Crossfit.

    1. Probiotic is only really necessary if you're NOT eating healthy fermented foods like KimChi, kombucha, kefir, natto, etc. If you do need to take a probiotic, I recommend the "Caprobiotics" at, or the EXOS probiotic there…

  3. acharland025 says:

    Hi Ben, before I found your website, I had done a lot of research and found the Thorne am/pm product and ingredients to be top notch… Then after doing a bit of investigating, I found your page on the Quest to find the best multi and was surprised that it was the same as I found during MY quest to find a good quality multi. So my question is, how / when/ where does this multi fit in your 'when to take vitamins' schedule as these are not broken down as your chart dictates. EVERYTIME I take a multi, I get lethargic… so this vitamin intake schedule was great but doesn't correlate with the Exos product as much. Help!

    1. Easy for EXOS: 3 with breakfast, 3 with dinner. Boom.

  4. alenatom says:

    hi can we use this product during pregnancy bcoz vitamins and Nutritional Needs During Pregnancy.
    can we try this product which i find on this site :… plz suggest me.

    1. We addressed that question on this page – just look for the section that is titled "Is Multi AM/PM Complex safe for a woman who is pregnant?"

  5. FOODALLERGY says:

    Hi Ben! I just went to order my 4th box of Thorne FX AM PM Multi Vitamins, and see they are out of stock (everywhere). Why is that? And what is our alternative (I am in Aus).
    Ps. I have been so so happy with them as I train for a body sculpting comp, and teach copious amounts of fitness classes in a day.
    Thank you.

  6. enloelori says:

    Thank you for the reply, Ben!

  7. enloelori says:

    Hi Ben, Aa a result of our one-on-one earlier this year, I began taking the AM/PM multi in the recommended dosage and the Thorne Fish Oil capsules. I am experiencing dry mouth and my dental assistant suggested I examine any medications (none) or supplements that I may be taking to cause this. The only other supps I take are TianChi (1x/day), Prescript Assist (1-2/day) and Great Lakes Gelatin (green can 2tsps/day; started taking much more recently). I recently stopped all supplements, save TianChi, in an effort to resolve the dry mouth and try to pinpoint the culprit. Any thoughts/ideas? Thanks!

    1. There is some report that the Relora blend (magnolia and phellodendron) in the PM portion of the Multi AM/PM may cause dry mouth. Omitting the PM dose for a period of 5-7 days may be beneficial, if it indeed is the culprit. Then start back on it and see if dry mouth returns…

  8. oiad says:

    I am having a bad reaction to the multivitamin. My skin gets oily and I just don't feel well. Am I really sufficient in all the vitamins or perhaps sufficient in most but not all? Could I just reduce the amount and see how I feel or should I just send these back?

    1. As you know it can be hard to nail down exactly what might be 'causing' a response (product or other outside factor). In regards to the multivitamin, your first line of action are as follow:

      1. Make sure you are not allergic/sensitive to any of the botanical in the products (curcumin, green tea, magnolia, phellodendron)
      2. Make sure you are taking Multi AM/PM with a full meal
      3. Of the botanicals listed in #1, the Relora complex does have some reports of nausea, drowsiness and or headaches (and dry mouth, which I'll get to in the comment below) – it's rare but can happen

      I recommend omitting evening dose for 5 days to see if indeed the Relora is the culprit. If not satisfied, you can return the product.

  9. Vahlstedt says:

    Hey Ben,
    Been taking the AM/PM complex for a week now.
    I have noticed a big difference in my urine color. It has become very neon dark yellow…
    I think this is from the riboflavin. Is this a sign that three capsules may be too much, and two may be better? Or is this change in color completely normal?

    1. Actually, that would make a great podcast topic. Wanna call it in and I'll answer it on the show?

      1. Vahlstedt says:

        Thanks Ben!
        I have sent you the recording.

        1. Vahlstedt says:

          Hey Ben,
          Been listening to the last two podcasts, but haven't heard my question.
          Are you going to take it up in one of your future podcasts?
          I'm very interested in receiving answer to the question :)

          1. Sorry Carl, at any given time we have 100+ questions in the queue. We can't get to all of them but we try to get to as many as we can.

  10. Murry345 says:


    I tore my Achilles playing soccer and had surgery 5 weeks ago. I'm taking the Thorne FX AM/PM supplement, but what else should I take to ensure a positive recovery? I'm a 43 yr old male..playing soccer once a week (was a collegiate athlete) and hit the gym 5x per week so I was in decent shape before I got injured. I'd appreciate any advice. Been following you for the last 2 years. Keep up the great work!

  11. JasonS06 says:

    Hi Ben,
    Per your recommendation, I have been taking Life Shotz 4-5 times per week and love the way I feel. I am mentally sharper, have great focus, energy and better memory. What in Life Shotz makes me feel this way and will AM/PM multi make me feel the same way? Should I stop taking Life Shotz, if I am taking AM/PM?
    Thanks for your thoughts on this.

    1. You can take both as there are very few overlapping ingredients in them, but you'll be getting a boatload of vitamin B12 so will probably start peeing darker. If anything, you could back off the AM dose down to 1-2 capsules for the multi. It is the brain antiinflammatories in the LifeShotz that likely makes you feel that way BTW.

  12. Mark_Aty says:

    Hi Ben,
    Thanks for all your work and great podcast as always.
    Do you recommend their probiotic and how does it compare to Prescript-Assist which seems to be the usual recommended one by the likes of Chris Kresser and Dave Asprey ?
    Is a probiotic something everyone should take or should you have your gut health checked in someway first?
    Thanks again

    1. I do recommend their probiotic. I would also recommend that you to eat a lot of sauerkraut, kiefer, yogurt and other fermented foods that are also full of good probiotic bacteria – Take a look at this and also have a look at the "Insufficient gut bacteria" section of this page…

      1. Mark_Aty says:

        Thanks Ben and so it better or as good as Prescript Assist or just different and they are both necessary?

        And sorry a question about in regard to their Amino Complex –
        How active do you have to be to get the benefits of this. I train 4-5 days per week with a mix of strength and HIT sessions. I try to really do it in a minimalist way – short, sharp and hard. Would I benefit from this and if so both types of training sessions?

        And, in your book you mentioned certain amino acids that are good for mental performance in the nootropics/ brain hacking section and mentioned that they are best to get from essential amino acid supplements… Is this the sort of product you were referring to?


        1. It is different. Prescript-Assist is soil based organisms. Honestly, I play outside a ton. I roll around in the dirt. I have pets. I do mud runs. I get plenty of soil based organisms. And even that other probiotic I only use when I travel and I'm not eating fermented foods. The amino complex is beneficial for any HIIT sessions or weight training, not just for long stuff. One to two scoops makes a HUGE difference in exertion levels. And yes, they have nootropic effect too.

          1. Mark_Aty says:

            Thats great, thanks Ben!

  13. johnjkelly says:

    Hey Ben,

    Are you still taking the marine phytoplankton even with this multi?


    1. I still take the phytoplankton when I travel, because it's harder for me to eat a nutrient dense diet when I travel, and immune system assailants become more frequent. And I travel a LOT.

  14. arifbangi says:

    Hey Ben,

    In the past you've suggested that you can put your supplements in the blender. As someone who has always struggled to swallow pills this is music to my ears. Is it safe to put the EXOS Multicomplex into my morning Kale shake without losing all the fantastic benefits?

    Many thanks for your kind advice,

    1. Technically, you'd be fine opening the capsules and dumping the contents into your shake. I wouldn’t recommend just tossing the capsules in as you may end up with chunks of capsule that wouldn’t be appealing (although it wouldn’t hurt you).

      That said, I’m a bit anal about ensuring I get everything I paid for, and there’s always leftover stuff in the blender, so I’d personally feel like some of the nutrients might get washed down the drain. You can throw them in there though, provided you drink the shake right away.

      1. arifbangi says:

        Thank you.

      2. arifbangi says:

        Hi Ben,

        I'm struggling to make a purchase from the Thorne FX website from the UK. They don't have a PayPal option which seems like a major oversight for people who choose not to have a credit card.

        Can I buy them direct from you? Or is there a European source?


        1. I don't sell them directly. You may have to find a friend with a credit card.

  15. psomnhot says:


    Read your Blog post on the EXOS site…. What would be your nutrition strategy (modified) if at all for a 100 mile ultramarathon if you're expecting a finish time of 24-30 hours? I liked your protocol for Triathlons, but what about a single sport like Ultramarathons?

    1. Use what I talk about in the *running* section of the post. You can use that exact protocol during an ultra!

  16. Andrew says:

    Hello Ben,

    Is it a good idea or a bad idea to mix X2 and elevate?

    Thanks for your time.

    1. Sure you can mix them. Seems a bit much, but no issues with it!

      1. Andrew says:

        Thank you Ben.

        Would you be able to compare/contrast the two products at all?

        It seems they would both have different perks. Im curious if one is better over the other for different events or workouts. Preload vs recovery vs during etc.

        As for mixing the 2 I was thinking about your Ucan amino cocktail for long events and curious if there would be any benefit to splitting the X2 part of the recipe 50/50 with elevate.

        Again, Thank you for your time.


        1. Sure, X2 is ATP based precursors for ATP energy…

          The Elevate is adaptogen based and more for managing stress and increased adrenal activation of lung tissue…

          …and you could totally mix the two 50/50…

  17. slinder120 says:

    I have to avoid additional iron. I do not see it in the ingredients list but want to make sure I'm not missing anything. Is this safe for someone needing to avoid iron. (I have hemochromatosis). Thanks.

    1. There is no iron in the multis at all. If there were, they'd need to use child-proof caps!

  18. jreno3 says:

    Not a vitamin question, but on the thorne product line-Can I replace MAP with the Thorne Amino Complex?

    1. yep. If you like powder instead of capsules.

  19. jennymdoss says:

    I am interested in trying the AM/PM complex and eliminating many of the other vitamins I take. The ones I am interested in eliminating are Enerprime, CoQ10 and Curcumin. I would continue to take a seperate fish oil supplement, iodine and selenium along with the AM/PM. Do you think the AM/PM could replace these supplements ( Enerprime, CoQ10 and Curcumin)?

      1. ktmmojo says:

        Hello Ben,

        Before any of the EXOS discussions I heard you speak of Phenocane which is curcumin. After hearing the few EXOS discussions I went to look at the ingredients of Phenocane and found the word "magnesium stearate" and nothing in the form of phytosome (which I understand to be some form of fat that is required to absorb the curcumin). So can I assume my recently purchased Phenocane capsules are trash material? Thanks in advance.

        1. Not trash. I still use Phenocane for pain management if I am injured. But is a better solution for JUST the curcumin (although it's best for inflammation/recovery and won't shut down pain as quickly as Phenocane).

  20. James Burke says:

    Hey Ben, I started the am\pm multivitamin for a few weeks, and I love them. I was experiencing a lot of work-related stress, and that went away immediately after taking them. I am also watching my diet closer and reading a lot of positive psychology, so I’m certain that’s helping my mood too, but I am curious what components of this multi help reduce cortisol. Thanks very much.

  21. David says:

    Great rundown! Thanks.

    I typically IF from evening through lunch. I see with Thorne (and all other vitamins for that matter) that they are recommended to be taken with a meal. This doesn’t work well with IF. Is a meal really necessary? Really?

    Thanks again for the great info!


    1. To get optimum absorption, yes. Take a look at this –…

      1. marcjm says:

        What do you suggest if I am taking the Thorne AM/PM and fish oil daily and doing IF from evening until 11AM. I did read the above article and I understand that food is recommended to help with absorption, but I only drink BP coffee in the morning, no food until 11am. What do you suggest?

        Thanks!! Love everything BG!!

        1. BP Coffee is enough to cause enhanced absorption of a vitamin complex, so that will work fine.

  22. JenniReyn says:

    I'm taking the multi am/pm and super EPA per your advice and feeling very good! My question is, do I need extra calcium and magnesium. If so, how much and what kind? Next, what do you think about about glucosamine condroiton? Lastly, I've wondered about collagen since I really don't eat much meat. I'm a former vegan but I've added eggs and fish….but not much other meat. I'm wondering if collagen might help me since I don't get bone broth or cartilage like you recommend. ( oh, and I'm a 41 yr old female….active..runner)

    1. Jenni, the simple answer is that in your situation, if your'e eating a nutrient dense diet and taking fish oil and the multi, I wouldn't really focus on adding much else at all at this time. EXOS does has some other products that we discuss in the podcast with Tom, but those would be supplementary and not necessary…

  23. gramck24 says:


    Cannot wait to see what the new shipping rates to the UK will be. Itching to get hold of this product but is unaffordable at the current shipping rates (plus UK custom and excise duty levied on top).

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