The Hair Mineral Analysis Test is a test that measures the mineral content of your hair and reflects the mineral content of your body tissues. The test has different benefits and can be a screening test for various syndromes and metabolic disorders. However, the primary role of the test is to find nutritional deficiency, mineral imbalances, and toxicity of heavy metals or chemicals.
The test provides valuable information to your healthcare provider to guide you to an excellent nutritional plan and make you aware of your exposure to harmful chemicals. Thus, you can change your nutrition and lifestyle to improve your overall health. Additionally, you can understand your risk of certain diseases.
In the article, we have explained further about the test and the information provided by the test.
Why is hair the test material?
- The test is unaffected by recent events such as any recent stress, meals, or exercise. So, it provides information about the long-term situation.
- The base of the hair is supplied with small blood vessels, and the shaft absorbs various minerals and chemicals from the blood that remain stored in the hair.
- The test is non-invasive.
- The test is a screening test, not a diagnostic test. It means that the test is done to find out the risk of the possible development of symptoms or disease in the future.
- It is cost-effective in comparison to the urine challenge tests for heavy metal toxicity.
How to collect the hair sample
The sample must be collected properly to avoid wrong results. Hair should not be treated to get the best results. Some anti-dandruff shampoos that contain zinc, selenium, and lead, should not be used. Also, do not use any other medicated shampoos or hair products.
Some steps of collecting the hair sample have been explained below:
- Take clean stainless steel scissors.
- Get hold of the hair tuft from the scalp.
- Cut the hair tuft from its base.
- Take two tufts from the top of the head, two from the middle of the back of the head, and two from the nape of the neck.
- Cut the first two centimeters of the hair tufts from the scalp end.
- Take enough hair to cover a 2-square-inch area of the paper.
- Place the sample in an envelope and seal it.
- Send the envelope to the lab.
Hair Mineral Analysis Test Interpretation
The interpretation of the hair mineral test can be done in five sections, with all the sections to be evaluated as a whole before interpreting the required information.
- Toxic and non-nutritional sections: This section involves the interpretation of the minerals which are toxic and harmful to the body. The minerals analyzed in this section are mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, aluminum, antimony, barium, and beryllium. The toxic heavy metals replace the functioning of normal nutrients and affect the body's functioning and metabolism.
- Mainly Structural: The minerals analyzed under this section are calcium, magnesium, sulfur, silicon, boron, phosphorus, and strontium. These minerals are important for regulating enzyme function and taking part in the metabolic process. Hence, structural minerals help to determine the metabolic function of the body.
- Mainly electrolytes: The major electrolytes in the body, sodium and potassium, are interpreted in this section. The ratio of these electrolytes helps to identify emotional states such as fight or flight responses, anger, and panic.
- Mainly co-factors: The minerals interpreted under this section are zinc, copper, iron, selenium, chromium, manganese, nickel, vanadium, molybdenum, and cobalt. The co-factors are responsible for metabolic functions, immune functions, and emotional functions. So, it is necessary to analyze various aspects of health.
- Ratios: The final section provides information on the ratios of different minerals. The calculation and interpretation of the ratios are important to identify metabolic activity and nutritional recommendations. The following ratios are provided in the results, which have got certain clinical significance, as mentioned:
- Calcium and magnesium: This ratio provides information about the blood sugar level.
- Calcium and phosphorus: This ratio is important to identify the metabolic type, i.e., fast metabolizer or slow metabolizer, which is important to recommend a nutritional plan.
- Calcium and potassium: The function of the thyroid gland can be interpreted from the ratio of calcium and potassium.
- Calcium and sodium: This ratio is important to analyze energy expenditure.
- Calcium and Iron: The ratio provides information about the absorption rate.
- Sodium and potassium: The ratio gives information about the stress level, vitality, and energy.
- Sodium and magnesium: The function of the adrenal gland can be interpreted by the sodium and magnesium ratio.
- Zinc and copper: The ratio provides information regarding mental health and functioning.
- Iron and copper: The ratio of iron to copper gives information regarding the tendency to infections.
Information Regarding the Clinical Conditions
The clinical conditions or the risk of developing these conditions can be explained by the following interpretation of the minerals. However, the interpretation should be taken as the screening test and further tests must be carried out for the diagnosis.
- Acidity: Acidity is indicated by high calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium.
- Adrenal stress
- Hyper-activity of the adrenal gland is indicated by high levels of sodium and potassium.
- Hypo-activity of the adrenal gland is indicated by low levels of sodium and potassium.
- Auto-immunity: Lower levels of selenium and zinc in the hair mineral analysis test indicated a higher risk for autoimmune disease.
- Bone degradation: high calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and strontium.
- Malabsorption: There is a deficiency of most of the minerals in cases of malnutrition. However, low magnesium and zinc are particular indicators of malabsorption.
- Maldigestion: Several nutrients are low in maldigestion
- Metabolic Syndrome: Lower levels of calcium and magnesium are indicators of risk for metabolic syndrome.
- Metal Toxicity: In case of metal toxicity, normal nutrient minerals are replaced by metals in the hair shaft and other body tissues, which is called toxic maldistribution, This can cause a low level of nutrient minerals in the hair mineral analysis test.
- Aluminum: Low calcium, magnesium, iron, silicon, and zinc.
- Copper: Low iron, and zinc
- Lead: Low calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and zinc.
- Mercury: Low selenium, sulfur, and magnesium
- Mixed findings in chronic illness: In chronic disease conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and inflammation, mixed results have been found.
The Importance of the Information Provided in the Hair Mineral Analysis
The information provided by the test acts as a screening test for important nutrient deficiencies. Additionally, it also helps to provide information regarding toxic compounds that build up in the body.
The information gained from the hair mineral analysis test might be useful in the following situations:
- Adjust your food habits to lose weight.
- Improving cognitive functions.
- Promotes emotional well-being and better physical health.
- Screen for food sensitivity and intolerance.
- Regulate metabolism and enzymatic functions.
- Regulate immune functions and prevention from autoimmune conditions.
- Improve endocrine functions.
- Improve muscle and bone strength.
- Regulate nerve conduction.
- Improve physical performance for sportsperson
- Improving mental function, thinking, and attention skills, which are required for students and people with intellectually demanding jobs,
- Heavy metals affect the immune system, cardiovascular system, and renal system. Thus, reducing exposure to heavy metals reduces the risk of multiorgan failure.
- Helps in the diagnosis of vitamin and mineral malabsorptbion.
Risk Factors for Abnormal Results
Certain risk factors can increase the risk of mineral levels being above or below the normal range. People with these risk factors should consider hair mineral analysis tests.
Some common risk factors for abnormal results are:
- People who consume a nutrient-deficient diet, and malnourished.
- Unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol, physical inactivity, and poor sleep.
- Consumption of foods grown with chemical fertilizers or consumption of foods stored poorly.
- Consumption of processed foods and foods with artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors.
- Drinking water that has been treated with additives and chemicals
- Frequent infections or stressful conditions.
- Use of chemically treated household and beauty products.
- People working in the chemical industry or who have higher exposure to heavy metals.
Factors affecting the results
Some of the factors which may affect the results are:
- Nutrient supplementation
- Interactions with toxins
- Toxic maldistribution
- Intestinal infections / overgrowth / dysbiosis
- Local circulation
- External contamination
A hair mineral analysis test is a screening test that tests the levels of different minerals in the shaft of the hair. The test is beneficial in providing various information regarding one’s health, such as important mineral deficiencies and the build-up of toxic minerals such as heavy metals in the body. Additionally, the hair mineral analysis test is also useful to give a clue about the functioning of various organs in our body and certain medical conditions so that further diagnostic tests can be carried out.
The test should be interpreted as a whole, and the results of the interpretation should be shared with your healthcare provider. They will further guide you regarding any interventions required, such as further diagnostic tests, nutritional counseling, avoidance of exposure to harmful substances, and lifestyle modifications. Thus, by correcting the mineral levels, various physical and mental conditions can be reversed for a healthy and quality life.
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- Park, S. B., Choi, S. W., & Nam, A. Y. (2009). Hair tissue mineral analysis and metabolic syndrome. Biological trace element research, 130(3), 218-228.
- 5.Cortes Toro, E., De Goeij, J., Bacso, J., Cheng, Y. D., Kinova, L., Matsubara, J., ... & Parr, R. (1993). The significance of hair mineral analysis as a means for assessing internal body burdens of environmental pollutants: results from an IAEA Co-ordinated Research Programme. Journal of radioanalytical and nuclear chemistry, 167(2), 413-421.
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