About emilylipinski

Naturopathic Doctor

4 Reasons Why Selenium may help the Thyroid

Selenium is a mineral found in the soil, and is naturally occurring in very small amounts in some foods and water. Although our bodies require very small amounts of selenium, certain parts of the world have now been found to have selenium deficient soil, and thus lead to more selenium deficient foods. Recent research shows that selenium may be helpful in treating Hypothyroidism. Here’s why.

1. In areas where the soil is low in selenium, it has been shown that people are more likely to develop Hashimoto’s disease, one of the most common forms of Hypothyroidism in North America.

2. In one study, when patients suffering from various forms of thyroid disease were tested for selenium levels, all were found to be lower than normal healthy people without thyroid disease.

3. The thyroid contains more selenium by weight than any other organ. Selenium is a key part of the enzymes that remove iodine molecules from the thyroid hormoneT4 converting it into the active thyroid hormone T3. Therefore without selenium there would be no activation of thyroid hormone. Additionally, selenium plays a important role in protecting the thyroid gland against oxidative damage.

4. Do you take iodine? Without adequate selenium, high iodine levels can lead to destruction of the thyroid gland cells.

In a placebo controlled study published in 2002, German researchers reported on an experiment in which they gave 200 mcg of selenium daily to patients with Hashimoto’s disease and high levels of thyroid peroxidase antibodies (Read more about thyroid testing and antibodies here). After three months, the thyroid peroxidase antibody levels of the patients taking selenium were decreased by 66.4% compared to their pre-treatment values, and antibody levels returned to normal in nine of the selenium treated patients. However, in 2008 researchers in Austria reported that they were not able to duplicate the results of the earlier study. They suggested that selenium supplementation might be of greater benefit to patients with higher disease activity, or higher levels of antibodies prior to starting the selenium therapy.

Foods high in selenium include:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Yellowfin Tuna
  • Halibut
  • Sardines
  • Mushrooms
  • Grass Fed Meat

However, as mentioned above, selenium levels in our food sources may have decreased, or may vary greatly. If you are struggling with thyroid disease, talk to your health care provider to see if selenium may be helpful for you!

Yours in Health,

Dr. Emily

Works Cited

  1. Gärtner R, Gasnier BC, Dietrich JW, Krebs B, Angstwurm MW. Selenium supplementation in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis decreases thyroid peroxidase antibodies concentrations. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Apr;87(4):1687-91.
  2. Karanikas G, Schuetz M, Kontur S, et al. No immunological benefit of selenium in consecutive patients with autoimmune thyroiditis. Thyroid. 2008 Jan;18(1):7-12.
  3. Kohrle J. The trace element selenium and the thyroid gland. Biochimie. 1999 May;81(5):527-33.
  4. Kucharzewski M, Braziewicz J, Majewska U, Góźdź S. Concentration of selenium in the whole blood and the thyroid tissue of patients with various thyroid diseases. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2002 Jul;88(1):https://emilylipinski.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php25-30.
  5. Köhrle J. The trace element selenium and the thyroid gland. Biochimie. 1999 May;81(5):527-33.
  6. Lifeextension, “Thyroid Regulation” accessed November 2017.
  7. Mazokopakis EE, Chatzipavlidou V. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and the role of selenium. Current concepts. Hell J Nucl Med. 2007 Jan-Apr;10(1):6-8.
  8. Zimmermann MB, Köhrle J. The impact of iron and selenium deficiencies on iodine and thyroid metabolism: biochemistry and relevance to public health. Thyroid. 2002 Oct;12(10):867-78.

 

 

 

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Thyroid Health and Sleep

 

One of my passions is treating thyroid disease.

Optimizing thyroid function, especially if you have Hashimoto’s or other autoimmune thyroid disease, requires some good detective work including testing for all the important markers of thyroid health. If you haven’t read my blog on thyroid tests, you can find it here.

Next month, I will be giving a talk to other doctors and dentists on “The Clinical Management of Weight Reduction in Oral Sleep Apnea”. While reviewing my notes and creating my presentation I came across some interesting research regarding the thyroid and sleep apnea. Before I tell you about this research, it is important to note that many of my patients with thyroid troubles have disordered sleep patterns but this does not necessarily mean that have sleep apnea. One of the key signs that the thyroid has began to under function is feeling tired. In fact, many of my patients report wanting to sleep 9, 10, 11, or even 12 hours at a time- and still feeling fatigued!. On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes sleep can be disturbed when thyroid hormones are out of balance. These patients may feel tired because they have been up many times during the night, which could be a result of hormone imbalance.

Sleep Apnea, is a chronic health condition that is characterized by pauses in breathing while sleeping.  These pauses in breathing and lack of oxygen wake people up during the night and the result is un-refreshing, fragmented sleep. The symptoms of sleep apnea include: snoring, restless sleep, gasping for air while sleeping, fatigue, daytime sleepiness,  and nasal congestion. Sleep apnea has also been correlated to weight gain, high blood sugar levels and high blood pressure. So how does sleep apnea relate to thyroid disease? Interestingly enough, studies have found that 25-35% of people with hypothyroidism also have sleep apnea AND sleep apnea may be a disk factor for the development of autoimmune thyroid disease! Research that was reported in a 2012 study published in Endocrine journal revealed that over 50% of people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (otherwise known as OSA) tested positive for thyroid antibodies (TPO or TG antibodies). These people still had normal levels of TSH, the “gold standard” marker for determining thyroid disease. However, thyroid antibodies can be positive long before TSH changes, and can be an early marker of thyroid dysfunction- especially if the patient has symptoms of thyroid disease!

Testing for sleep apnea requires having your breathing monitored overnight in a sleep lab. As unpleasant as this may sound early detection and early treatment significantly improves health outcomes. Remember, sleep apnea can cause weight gain, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, using CPAP or Oral Dental Appliance can improve fatigue and increase energy. If you are overweight, working to reduce weight can also be key in reducing symptoms.

If you have symptoms of hypothyroid such as:

  • Easy weight gain
  • Puffy face
  • Fatigue
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Heavy periods
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle nails

I would encourage you to ask your doctor, or work with another healthcare practitioner to have multiple thyroid tests run including TSH, T4, T3 and TPO.

I believe wellness requires working with a physician (medical or naturopathic) that is willing to get to the root cause of your symptoms. Don’t be shy to ask questions about your health- taking charge of your health is empowering!

Dr. Emily

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Superfood Spotlight: Turmeric

Turmeric is no longer a simple spice added to curries. You can find this amazing herb at every health food and supplement store. It is now sold in various packages, by different brands all over the world. Why are so many people getting excited about turmeric?

Studies show many Canadians are suffering from pain, inflammation and stiffness throughout their workday. Adding some turmeric to the daily routine may be helpful in alleviating pain and improving the inflammatory response in the body. This is important to note- inflammation reduction is not only important in managing pain but can also be key to addressing autoimmune conditions (like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) and other skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

Turmeric, also known as curcuma longa, is a member of the ginger family and is native to India and China. It grows to a height of about 3 feet and it cultivated for the medical value of its roots, which can also be used to flavour and colour food. Curries get their bright yellow/orange hue from turmeric. You will also notice when handling turmeric it can quickly stain or hands or clothes if you are not careful!

Turmeric can be found as:

  • Powder
  • Capsules
  • Fresh Root

 

What it Does 

Turmeric has been used for centuries in India and has been traditionally prescribed for the treatment of bad eyesight, rheumatism, arthritis and liver problems. To date, many studies have now been performed with turmeric via test tubes, animals and humans. These studies have shown that turmeric may be effective for the following conditions:

 

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Indigestion
  • Acid Re-flux
  • Cancer Prevention
  • Heart Disease
  • Stomach Ulcers
  • Bacterial and Viral Infections

 

How is Turmeric Used?

Turmeric can be incorporated into daily cooking, but is best absorbed into the body when combined with a fat (like olive oil or coconut oil) and a little bit of pepper. As mentioned above turmeric can also be found in higher doses contained capsules, which may be a more effective way to manage pain or other chronic inflammatory issues.  Speak to your medical or naturopathic doctor if you are interested in using turmeric.

 

Precautions

Turmeric in food is generally considered safe.

Taking large amounts of turmeric for long periods of time may cause stomach upset and, in extreme cases, ulcers. People who have gallstones or obstruction of the bile passages should be cautious when taking turmeric.

Additionally, because turmeric may increase the metabolism of liver enzymes, taking turmeric while taking other medications metabolized by the liver may change the concentration of these medications in the body. As always, it is best to speak with a professional before using new herbs or supplements.

Have you had benefit by using turmeric in  your diet? I would love to hear from you. Let me know your comments below!

Dr. Emily

 

Corporate Health Toronto: How to Effectively Manage Stress to Improve Productivity

Did you know? Stress related illnesses including anxiety and depression are now at an all-time high in Canada? In fact, anxiety, depression and burnout are the fastest growing disability claim in Canada!

Stress management is imperative to long term health, happiness and productivity at the workplace. I often speak to “The 4 R’s of Stress Management” as an effective way to lead a more balanced and healthy life.

The 4 R’s of Stress Management:

  1. Rhythm: Re-establish nature’s rhythm, get up at a decent hour, eat 3 meals a day, and go to bed before 11pm. Connect with nature on a regular basis.

This includes practicing good sleep hygiene:

Do not eat 2 hours before bedtime, sleep in a very dark and quiet room, do not look at TV screens or computer screens 1 hour before bed and dim the lights in the house (around 10 pm).

  1. Relaxation: Make a habit of relaxing every day! Use meal times as a chance to relax and practice mindful eating. Remember eating should be a sensual experience: smell the food, see the food, taste the food. This will allow you to make better food choices as you become aware of the nutrients and nourishment you are feeding your body.

Meditation can be a great way to relax! Remember that meditation does not have to be a seated, cross legged activity. Meditation can be done while walking, running or commuting.  It’s about turning off the “to do list” and taking in your surroundings.  Great guided meditations can be found on YouTube or iTunes and downloaded to your smart phone.

  1. Replenishment: Make healthy food choices high in antioxidants to replenish your body with proper vitamins and minerals, enabling the body to carry out its daily activities effectively.

Consider engaging in a creative outlet-music art or play, something that will excite you about life! Remember pessimism can facilitate disease, if we become disillusioned and bored with life, so will our cells. Pick a new hobby, join a group that interests you, and find something to be passionate about other than work!

  1. Rehydration: 8 glasses of water a day, including 1 glass of water upon waking**. Can add lemon, cucumber, mint etc. to flavor. Avoid juices (unless freshly juiced) as the pasteurization process leaves them devoid of nutrients and high in sugars.

**Remember the first thing you put into your body in the morning should not be caffeine! This can raise your cortisol levels further increasing your stress hormones.  Break-your-fast with water and a nutritious breakfast containing protein.

How much stress management are you incorporating in your life? Try to incorporate more of the above into your daily activities and notice the impact it can create on your well-being!

Carpe Diem,

Dr. Emily Lipinski, ND

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5 Reasons Why I Don’t Eat Dairy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of us who grew up in North America were raised on milk and dairy products.  We were lead to believe that dairy was not only important but NECESSARY for bone health. Dairy is one of the 4 food groups in the Canadian food guide and it is recommended to have 2 cups a day.

But over the last few years many questions have been raised over the benefits of dairy.  Many individuals report gastrointestinal upset due to the lactose in milk and others seem to be unable to tolerate casein, another protein found in milk.  Although dairy does have a few benefits, I personally feel the risks (or side effects) outweigh the benefits for dairy consumption.  Not only does my food sensitivity test reveal that I develop an inflammatory response in my body when I eat dairy, some of the recent research presents some pretty compelling reasons to put down the cows milk.

Here are the other reasons I have chosen to stop consuming diary:

  1. MILK MAY INCREASE BONE FRACTURE RISK: In 2013, 2 researchers from Harvard, Dr. David Ludwig and Water willet published an article raising even more questions about milk: they suggest it does not help bones become stronger and may be linked with cancer . In the late 90’s the Nurses Health study followed over 75,000 woman for over 12 years and found no protective effect of increased milk consumption on bones.  In fact, it may even increase fracture risk.
  1. DAIRY CONSUMPTION HAS BEEN LINKED TO CANCER: dairy consumption may also be linked to ovarian cancer and breast cancer !
  1. DAIRY MAY INCREASE ACNE AND OTHER INFLAMMATORY CONDITIONS: Additional concerns have been outlined in research pertaining to dairy promoting acne, allergies and inflammation in some individuals. Many woman notice less PMS symptoms and/or less cramping with the removal of dairy from their diet. I have seen numerous cases of hard to treat acne significantly improve by just removing dairy from the body!
  1. WE CAN OBTAIN ENOUGH CALCIUM THROUGH VEGGIES, NUTS AND SEEDS: The recommended daily calcium intake for woman aged 9-18 years of age is 1300mg per day and for woman aged 19-50 it is 1000mg per day. 1 cup of milk is around 300mg, however research has shown that calcium absorption from vegetables (kale) is greater than from milk. Listed Below are some great sources of calcium.

Sesame Seeds –  A quarter cup of sesame seeds has 351 mg calcium.

Spinach – A cup of boiled spinach has 245 mg.

Collard Greens – A cup of boiled collard greens has 266 mg.

Blackstrap Molasses – One tablespoon has about 137 mg.

Kelp – One cup of raw kelp has 136 mg.

Tahini – Two tablespoons of raw tahini (sesame seed butter) have 126 mg.

Broccoli – Two cups of boiled broccoli have 124 mg.

 

  1. DAIRY MAY AGGRAVATE OTHER MEDICAL CONDITIONS: such as irritable bowel syndrome, ear infections and chronic constipation.

Except for the odd piece of cheese, I have cut dairy out of my diet completely for the past few years. There are so many great alternatives available- almond milk, hemp milk, gmo organic soy milk, rice milk etc! Goat’s milk is also a good alternative for some, however individuals who have a really hard time digesting cow’s milk also may have trouble with goats.

Have more questions about diet? Or are you looking for more ways to increase your health? Book an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor!

Yours in Vitality,

Dr. Emily

 

Works Cited

Feskanich D, Willet WC, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA. Milk, dietary calcium, and bone fractures in women: a 12-year prospective study. Am J Public Health 1997;87:992-7.

Cumming RG, Klineberg RJ. Case-control study of risk factors for hip fractures in the elderly. Am J Epidemiol 1994;139:493-505.

Huang Z, Himes JH, McGovern PG. Nutrition and subsequent hip fracture risk among a national cohort of white women. Am J Epidemiol 1996;144:124-34.

Cummings SR, Nevitt MC, Browner WS, et al. Risk factors for hip fracture in white women. N Engl J Med 1995;332:767-73. 31. Finn SC. The skeleton crew: is calcium enough? J Women’s Health 1998;7(1):31-6.

Nordin CBE. Calcium and osteoporosis. Nutrition 1997;3(7/8):664-86.

Cramer DW, Harlow BL, Willet WC. Galactose consumption and metabolism in relation to the risk of ovarian cancer. Lancet 1989;2:66-71.

Genkinger JM, Hunter DJ, Spiegelman D, et al. Dairy products and ovarian cancer: a pooled analysis of 12 cohort studies. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2006; 15:364–72.

Outwater JL, Nicholson A, Barnard N. Dairy products and breast cancer: the IGF-1, estrogen, and bGH hypothesis. Medical Hypothesis 1997;48:453-61.

Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci E, et al. Plasma insulin-like growth factor-1 and prostate cancer risk: a prospective study. Science 1998;279:563-5

Melnik. Evidence for acne promoting effects of milk and other insulin like dairy products Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. 2011;67:131-45. doi: 10.1159/000325580. Epub 2011 Feb 16.

Danby. Acne dairy and cancer. Dermatoendocrinol. 2009 jan-feb 1 (1): 12-16.

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005 Feb;52(2):207-14.

 Acta Otolaryngol. 1999;119(8):867-73 45. Med Hypotheses. 2010 Apr;74(4):732-4. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2009.10.044. Epub 2009 Nov 25..

. Nature. 2014 Jan 23;505(7484):559-63

 

Simple Solutions for Lowering Blood Pressure

Elevated blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is due a number of factors that can disrupt arterial pressure and fluid volume (i.e. vascular, blood vessels, hormonal, renal or neurologic).

The table below shows the American Heart Association’s blood pressure categorization thresholds:

blood-pressure-chart

Essentially hypertension exists because of narrowing of the arteries, resulting in an increased blood pressured.  High blood pressure is no laughing matter!!

According to the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure, cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk doubles for each increment of 20 mm Hg systolic and 10 mm Hg diastolic above 115/75 mm Hg!!!  These findings are even more concerning when almost 50% of adults worldwide have higher than normal blood pressure (prehypertension).  That is a large portion of the population under risk of heart attack or stroke.

Although genetic factors have a role to play, DIET and LIFESTYLE are often the major underlying causes of high blood pressure!  This is good news!

80% of patients with hypertension can be brought under control with diet and lifestyle modifications!!

Listed below are ways that you can help control and lower your blood pressure to keep your heart healthy!

Lifestyle/Relaxation Techniques

Stress can be a major factor in high blood pressure. Stress causes stimulation of the nervous system, releasing hormones can cause blood pressure to tighten, and in turn, raising blood pressure.  Techniques such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation have been shown to have value in blood pressure lowering.

 

Exercise

Clinical trials in hypertensive patients that do regular exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment! Even Mild to Moderate aerobic exercise such as power walking, moderate biking or jogging, three times a week for 20 minutes or more produces an anti-hypotensive effect.  

Diet

When addressing both diet and lifestyle it is so important to achieve and maintain normal body weight! OBESITY IS A MAJOR CAUSE OF HYPERTENSION. The New Year is always a good time to re-set and create a new health plan. Maintaining a healthy body weight not only reduces blood pressure, but also reduces the chance of other diseases such as cancer.

Interestingly enough, vegetarians generally have much lower blood pressure, a lower incidence of hypertension AND a decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases compared to non-vegetarians. This is not to say that I am suggesting everyone adopt a vegetarian diet. But, it is important to look at WHY vegetarians have such healthy hearts….they do not consume conventional fatty animal products! AND, they may have higher consumption of vegetables (containing antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients) compared to the rest of the population.  Food for thought… J

3 vegetables in particular have been shown to benefit blood pressure:

  1. Celery
  2. Garlic
  3. Onions.

Celery contains 3-n-butyl phthalide, a compound that has been shown to lower blood pressure. In one study, 4 stalks of celery a day was shown to reduce blood pressure. Garlic and Onions have also shown to be of benefit due to their allicin content.

The DASH Diet:  Is a well-known diet to help lower blood pressure.  The diet is most effective when combined with sodium (salt) restriction and an increased potassium intake. For more information about the DASH Diet, please visit: http://www.dashforhealth.com/

Supplementation

There are numerous evidence based herbs and supplements that have been shown to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and may also decrease CVD risk. It is important to work with a health care professional when using supplements as some may interact with your medications.

Do you need help with planning a healthy diet or making positive healthy lifestyle changes? Visiting a Naturopathic Doctor is a great place to start! Naturopathic Doctors are specialists in nutrition, diet, supplementation and lifestyle!

 

Sources

1.Pizzorno J., and Murray M. Textbook of Natural Medicine: 3rded, vol 2, Elsevier, 2006 Missouri.

  1. American Heart Association. Understanding Blood Pressure Readings. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/AboutHighBloodPressure/Understanding-Blood-Pressure-Readings_UCM_301764_Article.jsp Accessed 11/18/2015.

3.Chobanian AV, Bakris GL, Black HR, et al. Seventh report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Hypertension. Dec 2003;42(6):1206-1252

4..Prousky, Jonathan, ND. “Hypercholesteremia” In: Principles & Practices of Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition.

Pp68-74, 2008 CCNM Press: Toronto

  1. Blumenthal JA, Sherwood A, Schein MH, et al. Breathing control lowers blood pressure. J Consult ClinPsychol 2002;70:569-589.
  2. Arakawa K. Exercise, a measure to lower blood pressure and reduce other risks ClinExpHypertens 1999;21:797-803
  3. Lesniak KT, Dubbert PM. Exercise and Hypertension. CurrOpinCardiol 2001;16:356-359.
  4. Moreira WD, Fuchs FD, Ribeiro JP, Appel LJ. The effects of two aerobic training intensities on ambulatory blood pressure in hypertensive patients: results of a randomized trial. J ClinEpidemiol 1999;52:637-642.
  5. Rouse IL, Beilin LJ, Mahoney DP et al. Vegetarian Diet and blood pressure. Lancet 1983;2:742-743

10.Tsi D, Tan BKH. Cardiovascular pharmacology of 3-n-butylphthalide in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Phytother Res 1997;11:576-582.

  1. Silagy, CA, Neil HA. A meta-analysis of the effect of garlic on blood pressure. J Hypertens 1994;12:463-468
  2. Jee SH, Miller ER III, Guallar E, et al. The effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Am J Hypertens 1989;13:227-232.

 

Are You Getting Enough Omega 3 Fatty Acids? A key factor in Mood & Inflammation.

Plant-based and animal sources of Omega-3 acidsOmega 3 fatty acids are commonly found in fish, seafood and some seeds.  These fatty acids have been associated with improving mood, benefiting the skin (decreasing eczema and acne) and improving inflammatory conditions such as joint pain.  New research is also finding that these substances may improve your IQ!

One interesting study found that aging humans who consumed higher levels omega-3s had increased gray matter brain volume and that most new tissue development was observed in the part of the brain associated with happiness.

Similar findings appeared in the journal Lancet. In a very large human study, scientists analyzed the diets of 12,000 pregnant women. The study found that children of those mothers who consumed the least omega-3 were 48% more likely to score in the lowest quartile on IQ tests.

Another study revealed when male teenagers ate fish more than once a week their combined intelligence scores were on average 12 per cent higher than those who ate fish less than once a week!!

Take the Quiz below (Adapted by Mark Hyman, MD) to find out if you are deficient in this important nutrient:

FATTY ACIDS QUIZ

  1. I have soft, cracked or brittle nails.  yes/no
  2. I have dry, itchy, scaling, or flaking skin.     yes/no     
  3. I have hard ear wax.     yes/no
  4. I have chicken skin (tiny bumps on back of arms or on the trunk) yes/no  
  5. I have dandruff.         yes/no
  6. I feel aching or stiffness in my joints.      yes/no
  7. I am thirsty most of the time.           yes/no   
  8. I am constipated (have less than two bowel movements a day).        yes/no     
  9. I have light-coloured, hard, or foul-smelling stools.       yes/no   
  10. I have depression, ADHD, and/or memory loss.      yes/no
  11. I have high blood pressure.     yes/no
  12. I have fibrocystic breasts.      yes/no
  13. I have premenstrual syndrome.       yes/no  
  14. I have high LDL cholesterol, low HDL levels, and high triglycerides.  yes/no   
  15. I am of North Atlantic genetic background: Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Scandinavian, or coastal Native American.                yes/no

 

Scoring Key-Fatty Acids

Score (number of yes answers)
Severity
0-4 Mild
5-7 Moderate
8 and above Severe

 

If you suspect you are low in omega 3 Fatty Acids talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about how to increase dietary consumption and what supplements may be best for you!  It is important to use a high quality fish oil supplement to avoid contaminants such as mercury.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Emily Lipinski, ND

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