The Genetic Secrets of Nutrition: Nutritional Genomic Testing

The Power of Genomic Testing

The world of healthcare is ever-evolving, and with the emergence of groundbreaking scientific advances, we find ourselves at the forefront of a fascinating field called nutritional genomics. This cutting-edge discipline explores how our genes interact with the nutrients we consume, leading to exciting possibilities for personalized nutrition.

Imagine having access to your genetic information to determine how your body responds to different foods and nutrients. Welcome to genomic testing! Although still in its early stages, genomic testing is becoming increasingly popular. It’s important to recognize that these tests are not diagnostic; they provide valuable insights into the client’s biochemical capabilities. To ensure ethical practice, your physician must be cautious in interpreting these results and integrating them into personalized recommendations.

In this article, Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX embark on a journey into the world of nutritional genomics, understanding its principles, and exploring how it may revolutionize clinical practice.

Biochemistry & Genomic Testing

To truly understand the world of nutritional genomics, one must grasp the intricate dance between genes and biochemical pathways. Genes play the role of directors, guiding associated enzymes that perform essential functions in our bodies. The study of nutritional biochemistry helps physicians comprehend the complex connections between genes, enzymes, and nutrient co-factors, making them better equipped to apply genomics knowledge in their practice.

The genomics science is rapidly progressing, with new evidence surfacing every month. For patients venturing into the realm of nutritional genomics, it’s best to start simple. Mastering one biochemical and gene pathway at a time allows for a gradual understanding of gene-enzyme-nutrient-diet intake relationships. Some gene groups worth exploring include methylation, detoxification, cytochrome P450, and catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT).

The Value of Experience in Nutritional Genomics

Experience is a powerful teacher and working with physicians experienced in nutritional genomics can be a game-changer. By studying client cases over time, physicians accelerate their learning curve, incorporating genetic information with patient history and medical data to enhance patient care.

Environmental Influences on Gene Expression
Beyond genetic makeup, environmental factors play a pivotal role in determining how genes express themselves. Epigenetics, the study of how environmental messaging affects gene expression without altering DNA, holds immense potential in nutritional genomics. The goal is to anticipate health outcomes and tailor interventions accordingly, connecting every test result with clinically relevant factors.

Treating the Whole Patient with Genomic Testing

Incorporating genomic testing into nutrition assessments requires a holistic approach. Rather than focusing solely on test results, physicians must consider all relevant factors impacting the client’s well-being. By examining functional markers related to specific genetic variants, they can then tailor personalized interventions that positively influence overall health.

Nutritional Genomic Testing | Austin, TX

As we venture into this exciting era of nutritional genomics, it’s crucial to acknowledge that the science is still in its early stages. However, the potential it holds for personalized nutrition and its impact on clinical practice are undeniable.

As researchers continue to explore the relationship between genes and dietary intake, we can expect a future where nutritional genomics becomes an integral part of healthcare, leading to more effective and targeted treatments for individuals.

Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX always keeps her eyes on the horizon, as the journey into the genetic secrets of nutrition has just begun! With every new discovery, we inch closer to a future where nutrition is uniquely tailored to each of us, unlocking the full potential of our bodies and minds.

As nutritional genomics continues to blossom, we can only imagine the transformative impact it will have on our health and well-being. Exciting times lie ahead, so schedule a consultation with Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX and be part of this remarkable scientific revolution!

Genomic Testing | Austin, TX: (512) 343-9355


Autoimmunity & the Leaky Gut Connection

Managing Autoimmunity & Leaky Gut

Have you ever wondered why our immune system, which is meant to protect us from harmful invaders, sometimes turns against our own body? This puzzling phenomenon is known as autoimmunity, and it has been the subject of scientific intrigue for decades.

Medicine, like any other field, has had its moments of resistance to change, but as we progress, new discoveries are reshaping our understanding of this complex immune response.

In this article, Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX explores the connection between autoimmunity, and a newly recognized medical issue known as “leaky gut.”

Autoimmunity 101

In a healthy immune system, antibodies are produced to attack foreign invaders, such as harmful pathogens. This helps keep us safe and free from infections. However, in autoimmunity, the immune system loses its way and starts targeting our own tissues, leading to various conditions known as autoimmune diseases.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis are just a few examples of such diseases.

The Mysterious Leaky Gut Syndrome

One fascinating piece of this puzzle is leaky gut syndrome, also known as intestinal hyper-permeability. Our intestinal lining, aside from being responsible for digestion and nutrient absorption, also acts as a barrier between our internal systemic circulation and the external environment. In a healthy gut, proteins are broken down into amino acids, which are then allowed to pass through the intestinal wall for the body’s use.

However, in leaky gut syndrome, the barrier junctions between intestinal cells become “loose,” allowing proteins to slip through before being fully broken down. These partially digested proteins are considered foreign invaders by our immune system, leading to an inflammatory response. Recent research suggests that this immune response might be a key factor in triggering autoimmunity.

The Triad of Autoimmunity

Dr. Alessio Fasano, a renowned researcher, proposes a fascinating theory that connects genetics, environmental triggers, and leaky gut syndrome as the three variables necessary for autoimmunity to manifest. He beautifully illustrates this with the analogy of a three-legged stool, where all three legs must be present for the stool (autoimmune disease) to stand.

The Role of Gluten and Zonulin in Leaky Gut

One of the environmental triggers that can activate leaky gut syndrome is gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains. For some individuals, gluten triggers the release of a protein called zonulin, which regulates the permeability of tight junctions in the gut lining. Increased zonulin levels result in heightened intestinal permeability, potentially contributing to autoimmunity.

The Four-Step Plan for Gut Health
Understanding the role of leaky gut in autoimmunity opens up new possibilities for managing these complex conditions. Experts recommend a four-step plan to address gut health effectively:
1. Remove: Identify and eliminate foods, stress, and other factors that may damage the gut.
2. Replace: Introduce digestive enzymes and healing foods like bone broth and fermented foods.
3. Repair: Use specific supplements like L-glutamine and mucilaginous herbs to heal the gut lining.
4. Rebalance: Incorporate probiotics to support a healthy microbiome.

Autoimmunity & Leaky Gut Doctor | Austin, TX

As research on autoimmunity and the gut continues to unfold, we may find new ways to manage and possibly reverse the progression of autoimmune diseases. By focusing on optimizing gut health, detecting, and eliminating triggers, and supporting a balanced immune response, we pave the way for a healthier future.

Remember, when it comes to your health, being informed is a powerful tool. The evolving landscape of medicine offers hope and potential solutions to those affected by autoimmune diseases. If you would like to take charge of your health and well-being, schedule an appointment with Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX and take the first step toward healing your gut and improving your body’s immunity.

Autoimmunity & Leaky Gut Doctor | Austin: (512) 343-9355


Feel Better with Metabolomics Nutritional Deficiency Testing

Not feeling your best these days? It’s easy to chalk up fatigue, ‘brain fog’, aches and pains, sleep problems, weight gain, and more to being stressed, overworked, or simply getting older. But wouldn’t it be great to wake up refreshed, feeling sharp with plenty of energy, ready to take on the day? With new ‘metabolomics’ you can feel your best at any age.

Metabolomics is a cutting-edge field of nutritional testing to identify your unique nutrient deficiencies – on a cellular level.

We’ve long been told by our mothers and grandmothers that “you are what you eat.” In other words, it’s common knowledge that good nutrition is essential for overall health and well-being. But how does one know if he or she is getting the right nutrients for their body? With today’s busy schedules it’s hard enough just to grab lunch or plan dinner!

So, it’s no surprise that nutritional deficiencies are extremely common in the US, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds. But new metabolomic nutritional testing at Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin, TX can help you identify your personal nutrient deficiencies – so that you can restore balance and achieve optimal, energy, health, and well-being!

Nutritional Deficiencies

 A nutritional deficiency occurs when the body does not receive the necessary amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that it needs to function properly.

Nutritional deficiencies can have a significant impact on physical and mental health, leading to a range of symptoms and even diseases. For example, a deficiency in vitamin D can lead to weakened bones and an increased risk of fractures, while a deficiency in iron can cause anemia, which is characterized by fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath. Deficiencies in other vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, magnesium, and zinc, can also cause a range of symptoms, from neurological issues to immune system dysfunction.

In addition to physical symptoms, nutritional deficiencies can also affect mental health and mood. For example, a deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to depression, while low levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to increased risk of mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. Nutritional deficiencies can also increase the risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

The Science of Metabolomics Nutritional Deficiency Testing

Metabolomics is a revolutionary laboratory testing method that involves analyzing the metabolites, or small molecules, in biological samples to gain insight into the underlying biochemical processes. In recent years, metabolomics has been applied to the field of nutrition to develop personalized nutrition plans and identify nutritional deficiencies. A simple metabolomics test at Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin, TX can provide valuable information about an individual’s nutrient status and so Dr. Harper can guide personalized nutritional interventions.

The science behind the metabolomics test is based on the fact that the small molecules present in biological samples (such as blood or urine or blood) can provide information about the metabolic processes occurring in the body. These metabolites can be analyzed using sophisticated techniques such as mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to identify patterns and markers associated with specific health conditions and nutrient deficiencies.

To perform a metabolomics test, a biological sample such as blood or urine is collected from the individual and analyzed using special mass spectrometry or NMR spectroscopy. The resulting data is then analyzed using specialized software to identify patterns and markers associated with specific health conditions and any nutritional deficiency.

One of the key advantages of the metabolomics test is its ability to identify nutrient deficiencies that may not be detected by traditional blood tests. For example, traditional blood tests may only measure the levels of specific nutrients such as iron or vitamin D, while metabolomics testing can provide a more comprehensive picture of an individual’s nutrient status by analyzing a wide range of metabolites associated with nutrient metabolism.

Common Types of Nutritional Deficiency

The metabolomics test can identify a wide array of nutritional deficiencies, including deficiencies in vitamins such as B vitamins, minerals such as zinc and magnesium, and amino acids such as methionine and lysine. In addition to identifying specific nutrient deficiencies, the metabolomics test can also provide insight into overall metabolic health and identify markers associated with conditions such as inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance.

The 5 most common nutritional deficiencies that can be identified using metabolomics testing, include the following – however this is just the type of the iceberg when it comes to diagnosing the many nutrients that may be missing from your body.

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to weakened bones and an increased risk of fractures. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can include muscle weakness, fatigue, and mood changes.

Iron is necessary for the production of red blood cells. So, an iron deficiency can lead to anemia, which is characterized by fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath. Vitamin B12 is also necessary for the production of red blood cells and the maintenance of nerve cells. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia, fatigue, and neurological symptoms such as numbness and tingling.

Magnesium is involved in a variety of physiological processes, including muscle and nerve function. A magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle cramps, weakness, and fatigue. Zinc is important for immune function, wound healing, and DNA synthesis. Zinc deficiency can lead to impaired immune function, delayed wound healing, and slowed growth and development in children.

Treating Nutritional Deficiency

Once your metabolomic test results are received, Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD will work with you to put together a nutritional treatment plan – including diet modifications and supplements – that can remedy these deficiencies and help you feel better and live a healthier life.

For example, a Vitamin D deficiency is often treated by increasing intake of vitamin D-rich foods such as fatty fish and fortified dairy products – or taking vitamin D supplements. Treatment of an iron deficiency typically involves increasing intake of iron-rich foods such as red meat, poultry, and leafy green vegetables, or taking iron supplements.

Vitamin B12-rich foods such as meat, fish, and dairy products – along with a vitamin B12 supplement – can remedy a B12 deficiency. Magnesium intake can be improved with foods such as nuts, seeds, and whole grains, and/or taking magnesium supplements. And zinc-rich foods such as oysters, beef, and pumpkin seeds, as well as taking a zinc supplement, can restore zinc levels to healthy ranges.

Metabolomic Nutritional Deficiency Testing | Austin, TX

Taking a scattershot approach to supplements rarely works – even with a good multi-vitamin – because you don’t really know what nutrients are lacking in your body. But metabolomics testing can identify your unique and specific nutritional deficiencies – to treat fatigue, weakness, brain fog, sleep problems, aches and pains, anemia, neurological symptoms, and much more.

Metabolomics nutritional testing available at Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin, TX is a powerful tool for personalized nutrition planning and targeted nutritional interventions to support optimal health and well-being – so you feel great everyday and at every age!

Nutritional Deficiency Testing | Austin, TX: (512) 343-9355

nutrition dr austin

Nutritional Deficiency Testing: Is Your Diet Making You Sick?

Up to 90% of Americans are not consuming enough of the essential nutrients required for healthy functioning of all aspects of their bodies. These nutrient deficiencies can compound over time and have lasting negative effects on your health.

Austin, TX integrative medicine specialist Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD wants to help you understand how crucial nutrition is to optimal health and how food can serve as medicine to heal your body.

As Hippocrates, the father of medicine once said, “Let food be thy medicine or medicine will be thy food” This quote, though thousands of years old, acknowledges the importance of healthy eating and how the nutrients in various foods have healing properties.

The Nutrition / Health Connection

Most medical doctors receive only around 19 hours of nutrition education over their four years of schooling, with only 25% of schools providing even this level of education. This is shocking considering the critical role that nutrition plays in maintaining good health. Understanding the connection between food and health is vital for every individual who desires optimal functioning of their body.

The importance of food stems from the fact that there are an astounding 37 billion chemical reactions occurring in your body every second. For these reactions to happen, your body needs proper nourishment in the form of vitamins and minerals.

Unfortunately, eating enough calories does not necessarily ensure that the food we eat has nutrient density or the amounts of each nutrient required for health to occur. Despite calorie abundance, most Americans are overfed but undernourished- meaning they eat too much of many foods with too little nutritional value to provide what the body needs for function.

Traditional Doctors & Nutritional Deficiency Testing

In the world of traditional medicine, the only diseases recognized as related to malnutrition are scurvy, and rickets. Yet, when evaluating people for optimal health, over 98% of Americans are deficient in omega-3 fats, an essential nutrient linked to brain and eye health. Moreover, 80% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, which helps with calcium absorption and bone health, and 50% are deficient in magnesium, which plays a critical role in nerve function and metabolism. Shockingly, deficiencies in vitamin C, a nutrient known for its role in preventing scurvy, affects around 10% of the population.

Causes of Nutritional Deficiency

The prevalence of nutrient deficiencies in America can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, in our past, we consumed food as hunter gatherers and these foods contained higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and essential fats than our current diet.

Secondly, industrial farming methods and hybridization techniques have led to crops and animals with fewer nutrients. Thirdly, processed and factory farm foods have low levels of  nutrients and must be fortified to compensate for the nutrient depletion. Lastly, the burden of environmental toxins, lack of sunlight, chronic stress, and the consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and sugar have increased our nutrient needs, which our current diet unfortunately does not sufficiently provide for.

Nutritional Deficiency Testing | Austin, TX

At Ruthie Harper MD in Austin, TX our metabolomics test – as well as other blood work – will provide a comprehensive assessment that identifies your potential nutritional deficiencies, imbalances, or insufficiencies of essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, organic acids, and antioxidants. These tests provide a powerful and comprehensive examination of various aspects vital to your health including mitochondrial function (the power house batteries for all cellular function), B vitamin status, detoxification capabilities, neurotransmitters, and gut flora.

These blood tests conducted at Ruthie Harper MD in Austin, TX will identify potential issues such as low amino acid levels, oxidative stress, low zinc and selenium levels, and toxic overload all critical for optimal function. They also identifies area needed to ensure that you are taking a proactive approach to disease prevention including  nutrients that protect against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and neurodegenerative decline.

The results of these tests will provide valuable insights into your overall health and help us create personalized nutritional and lifestyle recommendations for you for disease resolution as well as prevention.

Nutritional Deficiency Testing | Austin, TX: (512) 343-9355

How To Prevent Weight Gain During Menopause

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How To Prevent Weight Gain During Menopause

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For many women, menopause represents a turning point where fertility, youth and vitality are replaced with low hormones, low energy, mood swings, and the inevitable weight gain. Associated with these changes comes the increase in risks for cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cancer, and osteoarthritis.

However, rather than accepting these potential outcomes, we now know that with the right diet,  lifestyle practices, and by re-achieving hormonal balance, menopause doesn’t have to mark the end of a woman’s youthfulness. You can ward off hormone related weight gain and disease risk, and continue to look and feel healthy as you age naturally. Here are some strategies to make that happen:

1. Eat a diet rich in protein and unsaturated fatty acids, and low in refined carbohydrates and sugars.

Reduced estrogen production from the ovaries during menopause shifts the accumulation of fat to favor unhealthy abdominal fat often referred to as a muffin top. In the presence of estrogen, fat cells will normally respond by burning fat; however, when estrogen levels decrease, the cells store the fat rather than use it for energy.  Avoiding too much sugar and starch, which promotes fat storage, will offset the increased tendency for fat storage that arises.

Estrogen is also involved in maintaining a strong metabolism which is necessary to process carbs and sugar. With reduced estrogen levels, too much sugar or excess carbohydrates will be stored as fat rather than converted to energy. A diet that focuses more on protein, healthy fats, fiber, and non-starchy vegetables will help to prevent the storage of fat around the middle.

2. Exercise Regularly – Lutenizing hormone, which rises during menopause stimulates the adrenal glands to release cortisol, which promotes weight gain.  Regular exercise can reduce excess cortisol.

3. Get Plenty of Sleep – Too much cortisol can also affect sleep patterns, which is frequently a problem in women going through menopause.  And a lack of sleep can also impact weight. Sleep, on the other hand, can reduce excess cortisol.  If sleep is a problem, supplements like L-theanine, melatonin, or 5-HTP can promote relaxation and induce sleep.

4. Replace Hormones Replacing or maintaining reproductive hormones like estradiol, progesterone and testosterone to premenopausal levels with bioidentical hormones that function the same as our own hormones is a safe and effective treatment for minimizing the symptoms and outcomes of menopause.

When taken in the right amounts as confirmed by regularly testing levels, and in the right balance to minimize the risks associated with an imbalance; they will help to slow the aging process, keep energy levels high, support brain function, preserve muscle mass, help maintain bone density, and help prevent the weight gain associated with ‘middle-aged spread.’

Taking a proactive approach to your health through simple diet and lifestyle practices and a more targeted approach with bioidentical hormones will help you to maintain your youthfulness and vitality through menopause and beyond.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”2″ gap=”10″ margin_top=”50″ margin_bottom=”50″ padding_top=”25″ padding_bottom=”25″ css=”.vc_custom_1513015230624{margin-bottom: 50px !important;}”][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Ready to Book a Consultation?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]


How Your Genes Influence Weight Loss

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How Your Genes Influence Weight Loss

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Did You Know Your Genes Could Be Influencing Your Weight?

Ever wonder why some people can get away with eating carbs all day, while you just look at them and gain weight? Better yet, ever wonder why some people have immediate weight loss when they exercise and some don’t?

For years, we thought that cutting calories was the secret to weight loss. Weight loss is much more complicated than just calories in and calories out. The latest research shows that our genetics likely play a critical role in how well we manage our weight.  One gene that has become increasingly important here is called AMY1.

The AMY1 Gene

The amylase gene, AMY1, is responsible for making an enzyme in your saliva that breaks down starch called salivary amylase. The number of copies of AMY1 gene directly correlates with the amount of salivary amylase an individual has. It seems that the more copies of the  AMY1 gene you have, the more salivary enzyme you produce and the better your body is at managing your weight when eating these starchy carbohydrates. Amylase is responsible for the initial step in digestion of starches and carbohydrates such as fruit, vegetables, grain, rice , potatoes, pasta and all flour-filled deserts.

Interestingly enough, populations that evolved on high starch diets—such as East Asians consuming rice and Pacific Islanders consuming starchy roots and tubers—have been shown to have more copies of AMY1.  And in Mexican children who consume high amounts of corn and beans, more copies of AMY1 have been correlated with lower rates of obesity.

Genetic Testing in Weight Loss Plans

It’s important to include genetic testing to ensure you fully understand your body and create a truly effective, personalized weight loss program. If you’re interested in learning more about your genetics as they relate to your weight and metabolism, contact us today to schedule an appointment to learn about our SkinyDNA weight loss program.


http://blog.designsforhealth.com/blog/salivary-amylase-gene-copy-number-do-your-genes-determine-your-jeans[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_widget_sidebar show_bg=”false” sidebar_id=”sidebar_1″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”2″ gap=”10″ margin_top=”50″ margin_bottom=”50″ padding_top=”25″ padding_bottom=”25″ css=”.vc_custom_1513015230624{margin-bottom: 50px !important;}”][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Ready to Book a Consultation?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]


The Amazing Link Between Vitamin D and Breast Cancer

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The Amazing Link Between Vitamin D and Breast Cancer

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Current research links Vitamin D to a host of health benefits, such as warding off Parkinson’s disease, reducing rates of inflammatory conditions, heart disease and stroke, and even preventing cancer. In fact, new studies reveal that high levels of Vitamin D can actually reduce the risk of breast cancer and inhibit the growth of existing tumors.

Two new meta-analysis studies—which combine data from multiple reports—reveal new prescriptions for potentially preventing up to half of the cases of breast cancer in the United States. A team of cancer prevention specialists at the Moores Cancer Center at The University of California, San Diego, conducted the studies and reported quite significant results. The first study examined nearly 1,800 records and found:

  • Individuals with the lowest blood levels of Vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) had the highest rates of breast cancer.
  • Individuals with the highest blood levels of Vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) had the lowest rates of breast cancer.

Dr. Harper recommends that her patients have Vitamin D levels checked biannually, once in the summer when levels may be higher from more sunshine and once in the winter when levels may be lower due to shorter darker days.

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What is the Best Way to Get the Right Amount of Vitamin D?

Several food sources, including fish, eggs, fortified milk, and cod liver oil contain Vitamin D, but diet accounts for very little of the nutrient that actually makes it into your bloodstream. Your skin also makes Vitamin D from ultraviolet light, but too much sun causes skin damage and may significantly increase the risk of skin cancers in susceptible individuals.

Supplementation offers the safest and most effective source of vitamin D, but not all supplements are alike. Vitamin D comes in two forms: D2 (erocalciferol), which is synthesized by plants, and the more potent D3 (cholecalciferol), which is synthesized in the skin upon sunlight exposure. New research indicates D3 is the best form because it is three times as potent as D2 and more readily absorbed into the bloodstream. Most multi-vitamins contain too little D2 and include Vitamin A, which can offset many of the benefits of Vitamin D.

On the flip side, too much Vitamin D can cause a dangerous buildup of calcium in the body, highlighting the importance of getting Vitamin D levels measured. Although the FDA okays taking up to 2,000 international units per day, each person’s baseline level is different. That’s why Dr. Harper recommends that her patients have their Vitamin D levels tested on a biannual basis and adjust dosage amounts as appropriate under the supervision of a physician. Dr. Harper recommends keeping your Vitamin D levels at the upper end of normal for maximal protection against breast cancer.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_widget_sidebar show_bg=”false” sidebar_id=”sidebar_1″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”2″ gap=”10″ margin_top=”50″ margin_bottom=”50″ padding_top=”25″ padding_bottom=”25″ css=”.vc_custom_1513015230624{margin-bottom: 50px !important;}”][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Ready to Book a Consultation?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]


Dr. Harper’s Interview with Dr. Oz

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Dr. Harper’s Interview with Dr. Oz


Going Meat-Free? Get Iron-Savvy

Why women—and vegetarians in particular—should boost awareness of this important nutrient.

Feeling wiped out at the end of the day is par for the course for most of us, thanks to logging long hours at the office and juggling overloaded weekend schedules. But if you can’t make it through your to-do list without feeling weak, cloudy-headed or short of breath, your body might be calling out for more than a power nap—you could be iron deficient.

Whether or not you’re eating animal protein—the most readily absorbable source of iron—it’s a good idea to boost your iron know-how.

Iron is a critical nutrient for cell health and overall energy. “In humans, iron is an essential component of proteins involved in oxygen transport,” explains Ruthie Harper, M.D., creator of SkinShift supplements and skincare. Too little iron depletes energy levels and decreases immune function, along with a host of other issues including bruising, hair loss, pale skin, coldness, fast heartbeat, dark circles under the eyes and muscle cramping after exercise.

While there’s some debate as to whether vegetarians and vegans are more likely to be low in iron, Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., author of more than 30 books on nutrition, says that women—regardless of whether or not they eat a meat-free diet—are prone to iron deficiency because of menstruation, which depletes them of 15 to 30 milligrams of iron each month.

How Much Iron Is Enough?

The recommended daily intake of iron for adult women ages 19 to 50 is 18 milligrams, more than double that of men, who need only 8 milligrams. To put that in perspective, three ounces of oysters provides about 5.7 milligrams of iron, while one cup of lentils offers 6.6 milligrams of the nutrient. Pregnant women should consume even more daily iron, about 27 milligrams, as their blood has to circulate enough oxygen for themselves and their developing fetus.

About half of all pregnant womendon’t have enough iron in their bodies, according to the March of Dimes. And that can have health consequences: A 2011 study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology linked anemia—a condition marked by a low count of red blood cells, which can occur from a lack of iron—during pregnancy to an increased incidence of asthma in babies.

Many of us believe that our iron intake is adequate, but fail to take into account that we only absorb, at best, about 30 percent of the iron we actually consume. Gittleman and Dr. Harper agree that poor absorption plays a bigger role in iron deficiency than most of us realize. “Many people are highly deficient [in iron] because they do not have enough of certain digestive enzymes, primarily hydrochloric acid, to help them break down the dietary iron and metabolize it and assimilate it properly,” explains Gittleman. “You need to eat more [iron] than your body needs.”

What’s more, tannins (found in tea), processed foods and calcium can further decrease absorption of iron. Of course, we don’t recommend skipping your daily calcium supplements but rather taking them with meals that don’t also include iron-rich foods.

So where does that leave women, especially non-meat eaters, who want to avoid a low iron slump? The solution isn’t simply to grab a bottle of iron supplements on your next trip to the health food store. That’s because there’s a chance your iron stores could become too high, which can lead to serious toxicity and liver damage.

Dr. Harper’s interview with Dr. Oz online[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_widget_sidebar show_bg=”false” sidebar_id=”sidebar_1″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”2″ gap=”10″ margin_top=”50″ margin_bottom=”50″ padding_top=”25″ padding_bottom=”25″ css=”.vc_custom_1513015230624{margin-bottom: 50px !important;}”][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Ready to Book a Consultation?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]


Want More Energy, B12 Injections or Natural Supplements May Be For You!

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Want More Energy, B12 Injections or Natural Supplements May Be For You!

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]B12 plays a major role in converting food to energy, providing a boost for those feeling tired or run down. Additionally, adequate amounts of B12 levels lower homocysteine levels protecting our brain and hearts. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient found predominantly in meat. Vegetarians or those eating small amounts of animal based foods may not be getting adequate amounts of B12, leading to a deficiency of this critical nutrient. Signs of B12 deficiency include fatigue and weakness.

It’s always good to boost B12 levels by increasing this nutrient in the foods you eat. However, if you are not a meat lover, taking a natural supplement of this nutrient daily provides an alternative for boosting your levels. Unfortunately, because boosting B12 levels through supplementation relies on good digestion, many people do poorly when taking B12 orally. B12 injections provide a safe and effective alternative. Fortunately for those who require B12 by injection, when part of our medical weight loss program, Dr. Ruthie Harper likes to add other energizing and fat burning nutrients to your B12 injections. These additional nutrients boost B12’s energizing effects and speed weight loss. These injections have become a weekly favorite for many clients in our medical weight loss program as well as our personalized nutrition clients. Get your B12 levels boosted today and feel the energy this critical nutrient can provide.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_widget_sidebar show_bg=”false” sidebar_id=”sidebar_1″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

When Your Body Attacks: The Important Facts About Autoimmune Diseases

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When Your Body Attacks:

The Important Facts About Autoimmune Diseases

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″ el_class=”form-float”][vc_widget_sidebar show_bg=”false” sidebar_id=”sidebar_1″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row gap=”10″ margin_top=”50″ margin_bottom=”50″ css=”.vc_custom_1473713488022{margin-bottom: 50px !important;}”][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Our bodies, by incredible biological design, have the amazing ability to protect against destructive microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, infections, and disease. It is the body’s immune system that is responsible for getting rid of these foreign substances and building protection against further harm.

This process is known as the “immune response.” Sometimes this naturally occurring process can backfire, causing the immune system to mistakenly attack itself and lead to inflammation, cellular damage, and autoimmune disorders. So what exactly causes the body to attack itself, and what can you do to help prevent it from happening to you?

A Growing Concern

Autoimmune diseases include a family of about  100 known conditions where the body’s immune system attacks its own connective tissues, organs, and systems. It’s an alarming yet little well-known fact that an estimated 23.5 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disorders, and some data suggest the number affected is closer to 50 million. Even more surprisingly, about 75% or more sufferers are women. That means one in nine women is afflicted by autoimmune disease, making it more prevalent than heart disease or breast cancer.

There’s no clear consensus on why autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis occur more frequently in women. Some clinical scientists suspect estrogen may be the culprit, causing a woman’s immune system to produce more antibodies and increasing the likelihood that her body will turn on itself. Despite the uncertainty underlying the connection between autoimmune disorders and women, one fact remains distinctly clear: the average American woman is eight times more likely to have autoimmune disease than breast cancer.

Although the rates of autoimmune disorders have doubled in the past three decades and continue to rise, most people can’t name even one autoimmune disease.. Moreover, many autoimmune diseases share similar symptoms, making it difficult for doctors to determine if you have one of these diseases, and exactly which one of the more than 100 it might be. Sadly, most patients afflicted with an autoimmune disorder visit several different doctors over a long period of time before getting a correct diagnosis. Therefore, as patients it is imperative that we learn the risks, causes, and symptoms of common autoimmune diseases.

Common Autoimmune Disease


Addison’s Disease: A disorder where the body produces insufficient amounts hormones produced by the adrenal glands.
  • Muscle weakness and fatigue
  • Weight loss and decreased appetite
  • Darkening of the skin (hyperpigmentation)
  • Low blood pressure, even fainting
  • Salt craving
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting
  • Muscle or joint pains
  • Irritability
  • Depression
Lupus: A chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems, including joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, heart, and lungs.
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
  • Butterfly-shaped rash (malar rash) on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose
  • Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure
  • Mouth sores
  • Hair loss (alopecia)
  • Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dry eyes
  • Easy bruising
  • Anxiety, depression
  • Memory loss
Sjogren’s Syndrome: A disorder of the immune system often defined by its two most common symptoms—dry eyes and a dry mouth. It often accompanies other autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
  • Dry eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Dental cavities
  • Fatigue
  • Enlarged parotid glands — one particular set of salivary glands, located behind the jaw and in front of ears
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • Change in sense of taste
  • Hoarseness
  • Oral yeast infections, such as candidiasis
  • Skin rashes or dry skin
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Dry cough that doesn’t produce sputum
  • Joint pain, swelling, stiffness
Rheumatoid Arthritis: An inflammatory form of arthritis that causes joint pain and damage by attacking the lining of joints and causing swelling that can result in aching and throbbing and eventually deformity.
  • Stiffness, pain, loss of mobility, inflammation, and erosion (deterioration) in the joints
  • Fatigue, fever, the development of nodules under the skin, especially at the elbows
  • A sense of not feeling well (malaise)
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: The immune system inappropriately attacks the thyroid gland, causing damage to the thyroid cells and inflammation, which results in an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). It is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Pale, dry skin
  • A puffy face
  • Hoarse voice
  • An elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Unexplained weight gain — occurring infrequently and rarely more than 10 to 20 pounds, most of which is fluid
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness, especially in shoulders and hips
  • Pain and stiffness in joints and swelling in knees or the small joints in hands and feet
  • Muscle weakness, especially in lower extremities
  • Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)
  • Depression
Graves’ Disease: Occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland and causes it to overproduce the hormone thyroxine. It is the most common form of hyperthyroidism.
  • Anxiety, irritability, difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • A rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • A fine tremor of your hands or fingers
  • An increase in perspiration
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Weight loss, despite normal food intake
  • Brittle hair
  • Enlargement of your thyroid gland (goiter)
  • Light menstrual periods
  • Frequent bowel movements
Type 1 Diabetes: A chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar (glucose) into energy.
  • Increased thirst and frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger that may persist after eating
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
Scleroderma: A progressive disease that leads to hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues of the body. It usually starts with a few dry patches of skin on the hands or face that begin getting thicker and harder. These patches then spread to other areas of the skin.
  • Thickening and hardening of skin
  • Numbness, pain, or color changes in fingers, toes, cheeks, nose, and ears, often brought on by cold or emotional distress (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
  • Stiffness or pain in joints and curling of fingers
  • Digestive problems ranging from poor absorption of nutrients to delayed movement of food due to impaired muscular activity in the intestine
  • Sores over joints, such as elbows and knuckles
  • Puffy hands and feet, particularly in the morning
Multiple Sclerosis: A chronic, potentially debilitating disease that affects the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs, which typically occurs on one side of the body at a time or the bottom half of the body
  • Partial or complete loss of vision, usually in one eye at a time, often with pain during eye movement
  • Double vision or blurring of vision
  • Tingling or pain in parts of the body
  • Electric-shock sensations that occur with certain head movements
  • Tremor, lack of coordination, or unsteady gait
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
Crohn’s Disease: A type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in which the lining of the digestive tract becomes inflamed, causing severe diarrhea and abdominal pain.
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Blood in stool
  • Ulcers
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss
  • Fistula or abscess
Celiac Disease: A digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten, which is found in bread, pasta, cookies, pizza crust, and many other foods containing wheat, barley, or rye. When a person with celiac disease eats foods containing gluten, an immune reaction occurs in the small intestine, resulting in damage to the surface of the small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients from food.
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps, gas, and bloating
  • Upset stomach
  • Joint pain
  • General weakness
  • Foul-smelling or grayish stools that may be fatty or oily
  • Stunted growth (in children)
  • Depression
  • Osteoporosis
Cushing’s Syndrome: A condition that occurs when the body is exposed to high levels of the hormone cortisol for a long time. The most common cause is the use of oral corticosteroid medication. The condition can also occur when the body makes too much cortisol.
  • Weight gain, particularly around midsection and upper back
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Rounding of the face (moon face)
  • Facial flushing
  • Fatty pad or hump between shoulders (buffalo hump)
  • Pink or purple stretch marks (striae) on the skin of abdomen, thighs, breasts, and arms
  • Thin and fragile skin that bruises easily
  • Slow healing of cuts, insect bites, and infections
  • Depression, anxiety, and irritability
  • Loss of emotional control
  • Thicker or more visible body and facial hair (hirsutism)
  • Acne
  • Irregular or absent menstrual periods in females
  • Decreased libido
  • Erectile dysfunction in males
  • New or worsened high blood pressure
  • Glucose intolerance that may lead to diabetes
  • Headache
  • Bone loss, leading to fractures over time

What Causes Autoimmune Diseases?

The exact cause of autoimmune disorders is not known, but clinical and epidemiologic evidence implicate genetics and environment as the two primary factors. These diseases tend to run in families, with close relatives more likely to develop a related—but not necessarily the same—autoimmune disease. While one family member may have rheumatoid arthritis or Type 1 diabetes, another may have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (hypothyroidism ), or lupus. That’s why it is so important to educate ourselves on the symptoms of some common autoimmune diseases.

Although your genes determine whether or not you’re predispositioned for developing an autoimmune disorder, something has to trigger your immune system to attack your own body. More and more clinical research points to environmental factors including stress, toxins and chemicals such as cleaners and pesticides, viruses, medications, and poor diet. As with any other health issue, lack of exercise, sleep deprivation, alcohol, and tobacco abuse all can weaken your immune system and flip the internal switch that triggers an unhealthy autoimmune response.

The Stress Effect

We’ve all heard that stress can be very damaging to our health, yet we continue to engage in stressful behaviors like overworking, ingesting toxic chemicals, and not getting enough sleep. Stress is cumulative and affects us over time, so it is easy to kid ourselves and believe we can keep living with stress without any health repercussions.

Stress accounts for 75% to 90% of all primary care doctor visits in the US, and almost all disease is either caused by or aggravated by stress. In fact, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis are two autoimmune diseases known to be directly related to stress. The bottom line is: If you experience constantly elevated cortisol levels caused by chronic stress, or a single intensely stressful situation, you are compromising your immune system and significantly increasing your risk of autoimmune disease.

While we can’t often avoid significantly stressful events like losing a job, having a death in the family, or any other catastrophic event, we can try and avoid the common causes of stress like working too much, not getting enough sleep, not exercising or taking care of your body, and “running on empty” without adequate rest and relaxation.

Daily Diet

Every day new research studies report the link between food and autoimmune conditions.

There is  growing clinical evidence to support the belief that certain foods trigger the body to attack its own tissues. Researchers believe that one of the possible causes of autoimmune aliments is certain foods that are new to humanity (grain products, dairy products, lentils , beans and yeasted foods) which have only appeared in the past 40,000 years. Meats nuts, vegetables and fruits have been eaten for over 2 million years. Therefore, returning to a diet that is made of meats, nuts and produce may remove on of the main offending causes behind autoimmune problems.

In addition, there are many health hazards associated with dangerous fats and refined carbohydrates found in processed foods. Processed foods lack the essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients needed to promote and support healthy cellular function. For example, enriched white bread has 24 nutrients taken out during the bleaching process, and only four are added back in—along with thyroid-suppressing chemicals like bromate. Whole wheat products naturally contain 24 nutrients, as well as fiber, and are free of harmful chemicals.

Doctors and scientists agree that diets with high amounts of processed food are contributing to the growing autoimmune epidemic. For example, several recent studies show that immigrants from South Asian countries who move to Western countries and start eating processed foods have an increased incidence of autoimmune diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Whole foods, which are those foods as close to the natural state as possible, add essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to your diet. Dr. Harper recommends a balanced diet of optimal protein choices like chicken, lean beef, and fish combined with nuts and fruits and vegetables for those suffering from autoimmune conditions.

Boost Your Immune System

How can you boost your immune system and lower your risk for autoimmune disease? The answer is surprisingly simple: take care of yourself and incorporate healthy habits into your daily routine:

  • Manage stress (yoga, guided imagery, exercise, art, music, etc.—whatever works for you!).
  • Get eight or more hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.
  • Remove toxic chemicals like caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, artificial sweeteners, and sugar from your diet.
  • Eliminate or minimize processed foods.
  • Eat a balanced diet of optimal protein, healthy fats, fruits and vegetable, nuts and seeds, avocadoes and olives  in small meals and snacks every 3-4 hours.
  • Avoid environmental toxins such as cleaners, pesticides, and chemicals.
  • Build in downtime and fun activities to your routine.
  • Exercise.

Dr. Harper draws on her extensive clinical experience to design aggressive and personalized preventive care programs for individuals wanting to treat or prevent autoimmune conditions and achieve optimal health.

A Sweet by Any Other Name

The average American eats about 130 pounds of sugar each year, which adds up to 25% of total calories per day or 40 teaspoons. And the more sugar we eat, the more we want. It’s bad enough that excessive sugar causes us to pack on extra pounds, but now many researchers blame sugar as a causative factor in a wide range of degenerative diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Because sugar comes in many different varieties, it’s important to learn to recognize some of its disguises by name.

  • Sucrose
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Maltose
  • Lactose
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Sucanat
  • Cane sugar
  • Barley malt
  • Concentrated fruit juice
  • Rice syrup
  • Molasses
  • Invert sugar
  • Tapioca
  • Corn sweeteners
  • Maltodextrin

Is Your Skin Stressed Out?

Sooner or later, life’s daily stressors will show up on your skin. Whether it’s wrinkles or whiteheads, freckles or frown lines, age spots or acne, your skin is sure to tell all! To help reverse the signs of stress and get your skin back in sumptuous shape, our Laser and Skin Care Clinic offers a comprehensive range of aesthetic services:

Initial Skin Care Consultation: All first-time clients receive a complimentary consultation to assess your specific skin care needs and goals.

Customized Facial Treatments: Our aesthetician uses a combination pure enzymes and natural exfoliating acids to help minimize age spots, freckles, acne scarring, sun damage, fine lines, and wrinkles to create firmer, younger-looking skin.

Anti-Aging Treatment: A program of customized treatments is the foundation for age-defying skin care. We apply nourishing and replenishing ingredients to help take away the signs of aging and leave you with a fresh look. We recommend these treatments in a series for maximum effectiveness.

Petite Treatment: Perfect for people on the go, this treatment is designed to give you all the benefits of our customized facial in half the time.

Acne Treatment: Our acne program is designed to normalize and balance troubled complexions by reducing excess oil, clearing superficial blemishes, reducing inflammation, exfoliating dead skin, and killing off acne-causing bacteria. The result is an improvement in the health and appearance of the skin.

Teen Treatment: Learning to take care of your skin is especially important during the teen years. With this service, our aestheticians not only treat the client’s skin to help normalize and balance complexion, but they also teach the client how to maintain healthy skin for a lifetime.

Gentlemen’s Treatment: This treatment unclogs pores, prevents ingrown hair, and helps revive sun-damaged or neglected skin. During this treatment, the skin is cleansed, and a series of hot towels prepare the skin for rejuvenating enzymes and restorative acids that exfoliate and rejuvenate the skin.

Décolleté Treatment: A treatment specially designed to renew the health and appearance of the delicate area between your face and chest.

Back Treatment: A unique deep-cleansing back treatment that uses steam and exfoliation to clear up problem areas and leave you with fresh, glowing skin on your beautiful back. Extractions are performed on problem areas and a customized mask and moisturizing body oil is applied to hydrate the skin and round out the experience.

Hand Treatment: Roll back time with this specially designed treatment to make your hands hide your age. This restorative treatment includes cleansing and exfoliation, followed by a hydrating masque and warm paraffin wrap.

Eye Treatment: This delicate moisturizing treatment hydrates the skin around the eyes and helps reduce puffiness and discoloration to give you rested, refreshed look.

Vibradermabrasion: This quick and painless procedure exfoliates the skin and infuses healing and rejuvenating nutrients deep into your skin’s dermal layers, leaving you with a fresh and healthy glow. By stimulating the underlying epidermis, this procedure helps stimulate circulation and boost your skin’s natural collagen production, which thickens the dermis and reduces the signs of aging.

Epidermal Planing: This treatment effectively removes a layer of dead skin cells while removing fine facial hair without the harsh effects of waxing. It helps increase the absorption of active products, increase firmness and elasticity, and minimize fine lines and wrinkles.

Chemical Peel: This treatment uses a chemical solution to improve and smooth the texture of the skin by removing its damaged outer layers. This treatment is especially helpful for reducing fine lines and wrinkles, improving the appearance of mild scarring, and reducing age spots, freckles, and dark patches.

Did You Know?

You may be able to revitalize your immune system with the amazing benefits of broccoli. New scientific evidence reveals a phytonutrient in broccoli called sulforaphane may rejuvenate the immune system and help stave off common diseases of aging such as cardiovascular disease, degenerative joint disease, and diabetes.

The sulforaphane found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli has been previously linked to lower rates of cancer, but in a recent UCLA study, scientists discovered that the special phytonutrient activates antioxidant pathways at the cellular level. When injected into the immune cells in the skin of old mice, the sulforaphane turned on a set of antioxidant genes and enzymnes to fight off free radicals. The immune responsiveness of the old mice equaled that of the young mice, leading the scientists to conclude that broccoli may protect the immune system from some ailments of aging. To give your immune system a boost, be sure to beef up your cruciferous consumption with veggies like cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][/vc_column][/vc_row]