A tissue (hair) mineral
analysis is a test that measures the mineral content of your hair. Mineral content of hair may accurately reflect the mineral
content of other body tissues and organs. If a mineral deficiency or excess exists in the hair, it could indicate a mineral
deficiency or excess within the body, or bio-unavailability. For example, if your hair reveals elevated calcium two or three
times normal, calcium within the body may also be elevated. Excess calcium or impaired calcium utilization may increase calcium
deposition into soft tissues such as blood vessels, a feature of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). If calcium
is low, a tendency exists toward osteoporosis, bone fractures, dental caries, periodontal disease and muscle cramps, among
other conditions.Hair analysis does not diagnose disease. However, various mineral imbalances seen in hair are indicative of trends
that may lead to metabolic dysfunctions often before symptoms manifest. Hair analysis assesses for wellness and can be considered
a preventative measure.
There are many conditions that can be caused or worsened by mineral imbalances. For example, a lack of chromium,
magnesium or zinc can impair glucose regulation. Excess aluminum or copper levels may have roles in the development of Alzheimer’s
disease, and high levels of iron can contribute to heart disease. Just one mineral out of balance can affect all other minerals
in the body.
Minerals are the "sparkplugs" of
life. They are involved in nearly all enzyme reactions in the body. Nobel laureate Linus Pauling stated, "Every sickness,
every disease, every ailment can be traced to a mineral deficiency." Likewise, elevated levels of minerals or poor mineral
ratios can be problematic. A small imbalance in a ratio, such as sodium to potassium, can mean a big difference in one's health.
Toxic Heavy Metals
In addition to nutrient minerals (calcium, magnesium, zinc, etc.), hair analysis assesses toxic heavy metals, including
mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic and aluminum. Bio-accumulation of heavy metals can be extremely harmful to various organs.
Hair analysis is a valid, scientific test used in government sponsored studies for heavy metal detection.
Mercury and other
toxic metals are commonly elevated in Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the blood of
one in twelve Americans exceeds the EPA’s “safe” level for mercury. Mercury is a neurotoxin that can harm
the brain and nervous system. There is much concern about mercury levels in pregnant or nursing women and young children.
A child’s developing brain is most vulnerable to the harmful effects of mercury. A hair analysis is an inexpensive,
non-invasive screening tool to find out if you are overburdened with heavy metals.
Heavy Metal Elimination
Nutritional programs can
reduce the burden of toxic metals by several means. Supplementation with appropriate amounts of specific nutrient minerals
can displace toxic metals. For example, calcium is antagonistic to lead and cadmium. Selenium is protective against the effects
of mercury and cadmium. Chelating agents such as vitamin C and sulfur-containing amino acids such as NAC and SAMe help eliminate
toxic metals by binding to them. Also, increasing biochemical energy and stimulating a slow metabolism can step up the rate
of excretion of toxins via the liver and kidneys. This is accomplished primarily by nutritionally supporting the thyroid and
adrenal glands as well as liver and kidney functions.
What About Blood Testing?
Blood tests for nutrient
minerals, other than calcium, potassium and iron, are not commonly available. Also, they are invasive and can be expensive
and unreliable. For example, the body maintains a constant level of calcium in the blood even if you are deficient. It does
this by pulling calcium from the bones. If your blood calcium is much above or below the normal range, you are probably in
the hospital or very ill. Likewise, the level of magnesium in blood can remain stable even with long-term
low magnesium nutrition. In addition, blood constituents tend to fluctuate in relation to meals and fasting. Compared to a
blood test, a hair analysis represents a much broader period of time.
The Hair Sample
Hair should be clean and dry. Approximately, one
teaspoon of hair is taken from the nape of the neck within one inch of the scalp. For those who do not have head hair or have
recently dyed their hair, pubic hair can be used. The sample is placed in a paper envelope and sent to a lab for analysis.
Interpretation of the test results should be made by a qualified practitioner who has experience and training in hair analysis.
Corrections are not made simply by supplementing with minerals that are found to be low.
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