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Whether you are looking to increase lean muscle mass, improve muscle strength, or reduce your body fat percentage, there’s a supplement stack out there designed for you.
A supplement stack is a combination of products, usually from the same brand (although you can make your own stacks), that includes multiple supplements that are all targeted at a specific goal. For example, a stack might include ingredients proven to aid in athletic performance, muscle growth, muscle recovery, or cardiovascular endurance.
Since a supplement stack has different products for different goals, it’s impossible to rate one supplement stack as the best. That’s why we created this guide to the best supplement stacks for different goals, after weeks of testing them against their claims.
Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. For health advice, contact a licensed healthcare provider.
Stacking Supplements for Decades
The entirety of our editorial staff at GGR has years of experience with health, fitness, and wellness products and practices. We’re certified personal trainers and nutrition coaches, and we’ve spent collective decades fine-tuning our own routines and supplement stacks.
Best Supplement Stacks for 2023
- Best Supplement Stack Overall: Transparent Labs Muscle-Building Essentials
- Best Budget Supplement Stack: Kaged Performance Stack
- Best Supplement Stack for Beginners: Kaged Training Stack
- Best Supplement Stack for Building Muscle: Jacked Factory Build 24/7 Stack
- Best Supplement Stack for Bodybuilding: JYM Muscle Building Stack
- Best Vegan Supplement Stack: Swolverine Vegan Build Stack
Best Supplement Stack Overall: Transparent Labs Muscle-Building Essentials
Good for: Exercisers looking for a basic but high-quality stack that includes all the essentials
Best Supplement Stack
Transparent Labs Muscle Building Essentials Stack
- Combines 4 products to maximize muscle building
- All Transparent Labs products are 3rd party tested
- Evidence-based ingredients
- Included: Protein powder, creatine, pre-workout, muscle growth supplement
Pros & Cons
- Save about $40 compared to purchasing supplements individually
- Transparent ingredient list
- No artificial sweeteners, colors, or preservatives
- Able to select flavors for supplements
- Subscribe and save 10%
- Relatively expensive
- No customer reviews of this specific stack
- Only able to purchase via Transparent Labs website
- Number of servings for each supplement not consistent
- Not all flavors available in bundle
The Muscle Building Essentials stack will provide you with a protein,creatine, pre-workout, and anabolic catalyst to promote muscle growth, recovery, and maximize gains. You’ll save about $40 compared to purchasing all these supplements separately.
Our product testers are big fans of Transparent Labs overall, largely in part due to, well, their transparency around ingredient sourcing, manufacturing, and dosing. They post certificates of analysis and certificates of composition for all of their products, which we find incredible in a sea of questionable supplements.
Anthony O’Reilly, GGR performance editor, certified nutrition coach, and product tester, tried the Transparent Labs Muscle-Building Essentials Stack. It includes Transparent Labs’ 100% Whey Protein Isolate, BULK Pre-Workout, Creatine-HMB, and GROWTH, an anabolic support supplement.
“I think this stack hits all the basics of muscle building, with the exception of the GROWTH supplement,” Anthony says, the GROWTH being a bonus. “That supplement is a form of phosphatidic acid, which has been backed by research studies1 to support increases in strength and lean muscle mass. Transparent Labs also uses the proper dose in this supplement.”
“Whey protein2, pre-workout3, and creatine4 are mainstays in supplement stacks and their effectiveness, when used correctly, can’t be debated,” says Anthony. “The studies behind GROWTH are impressive at first glance, but I wish they had gone for a more ‘classic’ supplement with more research behind it.”
Examples, Anthony says, would be greens powder, fish oil, a multivitamin, or an essential amino acid (EAA) powder.
With all of the different supplements in this stack, you’re receiving clinical dosages of:
- Branched-chain amino acids (in the protein powder)
- Beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB)
- BioPerine, a nutrient absorption aid
- Citrulline malate (in the pre-workout)
- Beta-alanine (in the pre-workout)
As for taste and texture, Anthony says all was well for the three powder supplements. All three were very mixable, he says, and the limited-edition Peppermint Hot Chocolate protein powder tasted “like Christmas in a mug.”
His one callout is that the GROWTH supplement is three pills per serving. He didn’t mind it, but is aware that three capsules might be a lot to down for other people.
|Best for||The basics of muscle-building|
|What’s Included||100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate, Creatine HMB, BULK Pre-Workout, GROWTH, an anabolic catalyst supplement|
|Third-Party Testing||Yes, independent lab testing|
Best Budget Supplement Stack: Kaged Performance Stack
Good for: Exercisers looking for the basics on a budget
Best Budget Stack
KAGED Sport Stack
- 3 supplement stack designed for athletes
- Helps build and maintain muscle
- Included: Pre-workout, electrolyte sport drink mix, and whey protein powder
Pros & Cons
- Third party tested and banned substance free
- Transparent ingredients
- Discounts for military, first responders, government employees, teachers, and students
- Free shipping
- All flavors available for purchase with stack
- No reviews of the stack
- Flavors often sold out
- Each supplement has different number servings
- No subscription option
Kaged Sports Stack provides third-party tested supplements for before (Pre-Kaged), during (Hydra-Charge), and after (protein) your workout to help build and maintain muscle. Unfortunately, certain flavors are often sold out.
This is a nice essentials stack for people on a budget, and a basic supplement stack that can work for athletes of all types. It includes a preworkout, protein powder, and hydration support supplement.
These are things all athletes need and can use support for, regardless of sport discipline or fitness goals. I wouldn’t say there’s anything particularly synergistic about these three supplements together, but they’re all beneficial and worthwhile for active humans in different ways.
All three products are tasty. I chose the following flavors:
- Mango Lime for the pre-workout
- Chocolate for the whey protein isolate
- Pink Lemonade for the electrolytes
The pre-workout and the Hydra-Charge electrolytes are quite sweet; I have to mix them with more water than is recommended in order to stomach the sweetness. The protein tastes yummy and very chocolatey, although it’s quite thin when mixed with water. I just mix it with almond milk and the problem is solved!
RELATED: Best BCAA for women
I didn’t have issues with solubility with any of the three products. Everything smooths out well when mixed with a standard shaker ball and bottle. The pre-workout and electrolytes also mix fine in a regular water bottle without a shaker ball, although you’ll have to shake for slightly longer.
Better yet, this stack costs less than $100 and provides you with all of the essential ingredients you need for improved workout performance and recovery. And it’s quite easy to time them, too, which I love: Take the pre-workout before you exercise, drink the Hydra-Charge during, and swig the protein shake after. Easy as pie.
|Best for||The basics|
|What’s Included||Pre-Kaged® Sport (pre-workout), Hydra-Charge® (electrolyte powder), Whey Protein Isolate|
|Third-Party Testing||Yes, Informed Sport Certified|
Best Supplement Stack for Beginners: Kaged Training Stack
Good for: People new to fitness looking for an introductory stack to support performance and recovery
Best for Beginners
Kaged Training Stack
- Supplement stack geared toward muscle growth and performance
- 4 products included
- Whey protein isolate, creatine HCl, pre-workout, electrolyte blend
- Third-party tested by independent labs
Pros & Cons
- Independently tested for purity and efficacy
- 4 ergogenic aids included
- Clinical doses of most ingredients
- Label transparency
- Bioavailability agents in some of the supplements
- Some flavors taste extremely sweet and need to be diluted
- Pre-workout contains only 1.5 grams of creatine (but this stack also includes a separate creatine HCl supplement)
The Kaged Training Stack is perfect for beginners looking to cover all of the main bases of sports nutrition and enhance workout performance.
The Kaged Training Stack is a step up from the Kaged Performance Stack. It’s great for beginners who have a little more cash to spend and want to cover all their bases. In this stack, you’ll get:
- Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout
- Hydra-Charge electrolyte powder
- Whey Protein Isolate
- Creatine HCl
So essentially, this stack is the Kaged Performance Stack with the addition of a creatine supplement, and Pre-Kaged in place of Pre-Kaged Sport. The difference between the two pre-workouts is that the Pre-Kaged Sport is designed, as the name implies, for athletes who are playing a sport, versus the regular Pre-Kaged that’s formulated for intense gym workouts.
RELATED: Creatine vs Pre-Workout
This means that the regular Pre-Kaged has some ingredients that the sport pre-workout doesn’t, or has a higher amount of some ingredients. For example, there is more L-citrulline and caffeine in the regular pre-workout since it is designed to give you more intensity in your workouts and more of a pump compared to the Sport version.
Like many of our favorite pre-workouts, Pre-Kaged contains the nitric oxide booster citrulline plus creatine, although the creatine dosage could be higher (it’s just 1.5 grams). However, this stack also comes with Kaged Creatine HCl, which makes up for any lack of creatine in the other supplements.
Pre-Kaged also contains CarnoSyn, a patented form of the carnosine booster5 beta-alanine. And, of course, the electrolytes in Hydra-Charge combat dehydration and promote healthy muscle cell contraction. The protein powder contains 25 grams of protein from whey isolate.
Together, these four supplements will enhance workout performance and muscle protein synthesis, two things that ultimately result in muscle growth over time.
|Best for||Beginners looking to cover all the bases|
|What’s Included||Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout, Kaged Whey Protein Isolate, Kaged Hydra-Charge Hydration Support, Creatine HCl|
|Third-Party Testing||Yes, NSF Safe for Sport|
Best Supplement Stack for Building Muscle: Jacked Factory Build 24/7 Stack
Good for: People looking for muscle-growth supplements that are easy to take and time
Best Stack for Building Muscle
Jacked Factory Build 24/7 Stack
- Combines 3 products to help build muscle 24/7
- Research backed ingredients and dosages
- Manufactured in cGMP Certified facility
- Included: Creatine, muscle growth supplement, night-time muscle growth supplement
Pros & Cons
- Made in the USA
- No fillers or dyes
- 100% hassle-free money-back guarantee
- Relatively affordable supplement stack
- No subscription option
- Limited flavors compared to purchasing individually
- Limited customer reviews
The Jacked Factory Build 24/7 is an affordable muscle building stack that contains a pre-workout, post-workout, and night time supplement to promote muscle growth. To get your body ready for muscle growth 24/7.
If you’re looking for a stack to help you build muscle without having to consume a ton of powders, check out the Jacked Factory Build 24/7 Stack, which is conveniently organized into morning, post-workout, and nighttime supplements.
This stack includes:
- Build XT, Daily Muscle Builder
- Growth Surge, Post-Workout Muscle Builder
- Build PM, Nighttime Sleep Aid & Muscle Builder
Build XT and Build PM are both capsule supplements, while Growth Surge is a powder supplement available in two flavors: Swoleberry and Blueberry Lemonade.
The Build XT capsules contain three ingredients clinically proven to improve athletic performance in a variety of ways: PeakO2, ElevATP, and AstraGin.
PeakO2 is an endurance supplement shown to improve oxygen utilization during physical activity6. It’s a combination of six adaptogenic mushrooms: cordyceps, reishi, king trumpet, shiitake, lion’s mane, and turkey tail.
ElevATP is a compound composed of polyphenols (plant compounds) and research has shown it to be effective at increasing adenosine triphosphate7 (ATP) levels in the body, which is critical for muscle contraction8. AstraGin is a bioavailability agent that should increase the absorption9 of PeakO2 and ElevATP.
Growth Surge is a post-workout powder that contains creatine monohydrate, betaine anhydrous10, L-carnitine L-tartrate11, and BioPerine, a patented black pepper extract that works as a bioavailability agent12.
Finally, Build PM, another capsule, contains VitaCherry® (a source of anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant), ashwagandha root extract, Rutaecarpine (a compound thought to increase the metabolism of caffeine), melatonin, and BioPerine.
Build PM is designed to help you fall asleep, sleep more deeply, and increase antioxidant activity during sleep, all of which would lead to improved muscle recovery.
|Best for||Building muscle|
|What’s Included||Build XT, Daily Muscle Builder; Growth Surge, Post-Workout Muscle Builder; Build PM, Nighttime Sleep Aid & Muscle Builder|
|Third-Party Testing||Not indicated, but free from proprietary blends|
Best Supplement Stack for Bodybuilding: JYM Muscle Building Stack
Good for: Muscle-building aficionados looking for improved blood flow in the gym and the ability to pump out more reps
Best for Bodybuilding
JYM Muscle Building Stack
- 4 supplement stack designed for muscle-building
- Lab- and gym-tested ingredients
- Supplements available in different flavors
- Included: Pre-workout, BCAAs+recovery mix, fish oil, and protein powder
Pros & Cons
- Free muscle-building nutrition 101 e-book included
- All-inclusive supplement stack - no need to buy anything else
- Can select how many servings you want of pre-workout and protein powder
- Free shipping
- Some flavors only available in one serving size
- No reviews of stack
- Each supplement has different number of servings
- No subscription option
JYM Muscle Building Stack is your one stop shop for all your muscle building needs, including a book on nutrition for muscle building. The JYM stack is rare in that it allows you to select both flavor and number of servings when creating your stack.
Kate Meier, GGR head of content and expert product tester, has been using the JYM Muscle Building Stack along with her competitive Olympic weightlifting team. Her overall impression is that, “This is on the expensive side, perhaps, as stacks go, but JYM makes some quality supplements, and these products don’t disappoint in terms of taste, solubility, and profile, in my opinion.”
This stack includes:
- Pre JYM High-Performance Pre-Workout
- Omega JYM Fish Oil
- Pro JYM Protein Powder
- Post JYM BCAAs + Recovery Matrix
This is a really good combo for just about any active person, Kate says, because it takes into account pre- and post-workout needs. She loves that they include fish oil, because pretty much no one gets enough fatty acids. Supplementing with omega-3s is known to combat inflammatory responses13 and may have a positive effect when taken as a recovery support.
As for the BCAA powder, Kate says, “I’m not a huge fan of BCAAs in general, but this one has creatine, beta-alanine, and glutamine in addition to 6 grams of BCAAs, so some people might find that helpful depending on their post-workout needs.”
This stack offers a ton of customization, too, allowing buyers to choose from 8-10 flavors for each product (except the omegas).
The pre-workout has ended up being the weightlifting team’s favorite pre-workout of potentially all time, Kate says, and that’s coming from people who have used more than 50 pre-workouts. “It is now their go-to, even with all the other pre-workouts we have here at the gym. For the last few months, this is the one they grab most often and enjoy the most, both in taste and in effects.”
For the Recovery Matrix, the team got Blue Arctic Freeze, and Kate recommends mixing it with more water than the label says, as it’s a bit too sweet. This is a common finding among fruity supplement flavors across our team and across brands.
Everything mixes well, and the fish oil capsules are inoffensive, but taste slightly fishy like almost every other fish oil pill. All in all, Kate would recommend this stack to people looking to build muscle and strength.
|Best for||Athletes looking to maximize muscle and strength potential|
|What’s Included||Pre JYM High-Performance Pre-Workout, Omega JYM Fish Oil, Pro JYM Protein Powder, Post JYM BCAAs + Recovery Matrix|
|Third-Party Testing||Made in a GMP-compliant facility|
Best Vegan Supplement Stack: Swolverine Vegan Build Stack
Good for: People who exercise heavily and follow a vegan diet
Best Vegan Stack
Swolverine Vegan Build
- Combination of 5 supplements to promote muscle building
- 60-day supply
- Included: Beta-Alanine, citrulline malate, creatine monohydrate, L-Glutamine, plant protein powder
Pros & Cons
- Ingredient transparency
- Free shipping
- 60-day supply
- Big savings for bundling
- No customer reviews of the stack
- Limited reviews of individual products
- Relatively expensive
- No subscription option
Swolverine Vegan Build is a more expensive option for a muscle building supplement stack. You’ll be getting vegan supplements with transparent ingredients. Keep in mind that you will be getting a 60-day supply of each supplement rather than the usual 30-day supply.
It can be hard to come by muscle-building supplements that are certified vegan. Luckily, there’s Swolverine, a brand that puts as much emphasis on R&D for plant-based products as it does for non-plant-based products.
The Swolverine Vegan Build Stack is the perfect supplement stack for people following a vegan diet who are looking to improve performance in the gym and build muscle. It contains:
- Beta-Alanine (CarnoSyn) at 5,000 mg per serving
- Citrulline Malate14 at 5,000 mg per serving
- Creatine Monohydrate at 5,000 mg per serving
- L-Glutamine at 5,000 mg per serving
- Plant Protein at 22 grams per serving
Lauren Strong, GGR writer and product tester, tried this stack and says she thinks there’s a lot of value here for plant-based folks, but that “if you are not vegan, you can probably get some of these nutrients in a whey protein and not in individual containers.”
“For muscle building, I think this is a pretty legit stack,” Lauren says. “It has supplements geared toward muscle growth, recovery, and overall just getting swole. That said, if this were a stack not formulated for vegans, I don’t think you’d need everything broken out in different tubs—for example, some of the whey powders I tried already have glutamine or citrulline included.”
Regarding taste and texture, Lauren says she’s glad most of the products are unflavored, making it easy to combine them into one drink. The protein is vegan, which basically means for a non-vegan dieter, it doesn’t taste that good. “It’s not the worst I’ve tried but also not the best—middle of the road for chocolate vegan protein powder,” Lauren says.
Still, Lauren appreciates that this stack can provide a great pump just like any other stack, noting that she definitely felt the effects of the creatine when taking this stack.
|Best for||People who follow a vegan diet|
|What’s Included||Beta-Alanine (CarnoSyn), Citrulline Malate, Creatine Monohydrate, L-Glutamine, Plant Protein|
|Third-Party Testing||Not evident|
Other Supplement Stacks We Researched
Huge Supplements Shred Stack: This is a fat-burning stack that, initially, our team was going to recommend as the best supplement stack for cutting. But generally, our team has reservations about recommending supplements that claim to burn fat, and our experience with this one wasn’t great.
The Huge Shred Stack utilizes a number of thermogenics and fat burner compounds, such as green tea extract, caffeine anhydrous, various capsaicin derivatives, black pepper extract, citrus extract, and coffee bean extract.
Anthony tested this supplement stack and at the end of his testing, he ultimately decided he wouldn’t recommend this product to the average fitness enthusiast. Here’s what he had to say:
“This is an advanced stack used for weight loss by professional athletes, like bodybuilders. If we’re assuming that only professional strength athletes are going to use this thing, then it’s great,” he says. “However, I’d advise in big, BOLD letters that the average person shouldn’t take this.”
“There are simply too many compounds and it’s an easy way for someone to make themselves sick,” he continues. “I could feel an increase in my metabolism on days I took this, but overall I’d only recommend these under the direct supervision of a registered dietitian. I couldn’t take them for too long because they made me sick some days.”
How We Picked and Tested the Best Supplement Stacks
We chose the best supplement stacks by first engaging in thorough research around currently available stack options. We used our research and our past experience with brands to inform which products we ended up ordering for testing.
Once we got the products, we spent several weeks testing them for several criteria, including taste, texture, solubility, ingredients, transparency, third-party verification, results, side effects, and general experience.
Benefits of Supplement Stacks
Supplement stacks have great potential for helping individuals reach specific goals. There are stacks made specifically for all sorts of fitness goals, including:
- Bulking/building muscle mass
- Cutting/burning body fat
- Boosting testosterone levels
- Improving athletic performance
- Expediting muscle recovery
- Increasing endurance/reducing muscle fatigue
If you’re new to sports nutrition, a stack can be a very simple and helpful way for you to choose the supplements best suited to your goals. Additionally, stacking supplements will often help you save money compared to buying all of the products in a given stack individually.
Dosing and Interactions
Every supplement has potential to interact with another supplement, a food, or a medication. Most supplements in stacks are generally recognized as safe but can still have interactions. For instance, whey protein powder may slow down digestion of carbs, and while that’s technically an interaction, it’s not dangerous.
The types of interactions you need to look out for are those that involve any medication you may be on, plus documented negative reactions between supplements. If you take any medication, prescription or over-the-counter, be sure to talk with your doctor, a pharmacist, and/or registered dietitian who can help you determine what supplements are safe to take.
Third-party verification is a very important aspect of the supplement industry. Since FDA regulations around supplements are so lax, other organizations have stepped up to ensure a safer supplement scene. Here are some things you can look for to determine if a product has been tested independently from the manufacturer:
- Certificates of Analysis (CoAs)
- National Sanitation Foundation certification
- NSF Safe for Sport
- Good Manufacturing Practices verification
- US Pharmacopeia Verified Mark
Of course, you may also want to look for individual dietary certifications, such as certified organic, gluten-free, or non-GMO, if you follow a specific diet.
Buying Guide: What to Look for in Supplement Stacks
Not so fast! Before you splurge on a stack, read through this guide so you don’t fall victim to buyer’s remorse.
Manufacturers typically make it pretty clear what a given supp stack intends to do. It sounds simple, but double-check before checkout. You don’t want to take a mass-building stack if your goal is to lose weight.
We already mentioned third-party testing and verification, but we also want to specifically call out ingredient transparency. There are a lot of shady supplement companies out there that use a ton of fillers and proprietary blends, the latter of which represents a legal loophole that allows companies not to disclose how much of certain ingredients are in their products.
Do your research on the companies you’re interested in and poke around to find out how truthful their marketing is. Chances are, if you have to dig really deep to find the information you want about nutrition facts, the company isn’t disclosing everything it should.
Dosages of Ingredients
Supplements only work if they contain enough of the ingredient to support its claims. For instance, a creatine monohydrate supplement that only contains 1 gram of creatine per serving will not result in the clinically-proven benefits of taking 3 to 5 grams of creatine per day. Make sure to check the actual amounts of individual ingredients.
Research whether the supplements in the stack should all be taken together or if you’re supposed to space them out throughout the day. This can make a major difference in the overall convenience of the stack for you.
FAQs About Supplement Stacks
To wrap up, we answer common questions about supplement stacks.
What is the best stack for fat loss?
It’s tough to recommend a supplement stack for weight loss since many weight loss supplements include compounds like thermogenics and fat burners, which should ideally be consumed under the supervision of a dietary professional.
There are other supplements known to help with weight loss that are much safer, such as protein powder, which can help regulate your appetite15 and keep you full. Pre-workout can help you exercise for longer, thereby helping you burn more calories. For safety, we recommend sticking to protein and pre-workout to help with weight loss.
What is the best stack for gaining mass?
Many people, especially men, immediately turn to stacks with testosterone boosters for packing on mass. However, a simple stack with a good pre-workout supplement, protein supplement (perhaps as a mass gainer), and a post-workout supplement can do wonders for overall body mass.
What should my supplement stack be?
Your stack should depend on your goals. If your goal is muscle gain, you’ll want a stack that includes ingredients with known anabolic properties, like creatine and BCAAs.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.
- Jay R Hoffman, Jeffrey R Stout, David R Williams, Adam J Wells, Maren S Fragala, Gerald T Mangine, Adam M Gonzalez, Nadia S Emerson, William P McCormack, Tyler C Scanlon, Martin Purpura & Ralf Jäger (2012) Efficacy of phosphatidic acid ingestion on lean body mass, muscle thickness and strength gains in resistance-trained men, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9:1, DOI: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-47
- Kadam B, Ambadkar R, Rathod K, Landge S. Health Benefits of Whey: A Brief Review. Int J Livest Res. 2018;8(5):31. doi:https://doi.org/10.5455/ijlr.20170411022323
- Harty PS, Zabriskie HA, Erickson JL, Molling PE, Kerksick CM, Jagim AR. Multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements, safety implications, and performance outcomes: a brief review. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018;15(1):41. Published 2018 Aug 8. doi:10.1186/s12970-018-0247-6
- Wax B, Kerksick CM, Jagim AR, et al. Creatine for Exercise and Sports Performance, with Recovery Considerations for Healthy Populations. Nutrients. 2021;13(6):1915. Published 2021 Jun 2. doi:10.3390/nu13061915
- Hill CA, Harris RC, Kim HJ, et al. Influence of beta-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity. Amino Acids. 2007;32(2):225-233. doi:10.1007/s00726-006-0364-4
- Hirsch KR, Mock MG, Roelofs EJ, Trexler ET, Smith-Ryan AE. Chronic supplementation of a mushroom blend on oxygen kinetics, peak power, and time to exhaustion. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12(Suppl 1):P45. Published 2015 Sep 21. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-12-S1-P45
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