FAQs Hair Analysis

FAQs Hair Analysis

Why should you have a hair analysis performed?

Who should have a hair analysis?

Are health professionals utilizing hair analysis?

How is hair analyzed?

What are the advantages of hair tissue analysis over blood, urine, or other tissue analysis?

What scientific data is available to support hair analysis?

Why should you have a hair analysis performed?

A mineral analysis should be considered for the following reasons:

1. marginal or very marked deficiencies of zinc, chromium and iron -have been recognized widely in human populations in developed countries (6), (7), (8) indicating that your diet may not supply adequate amounts of all the minerals you require.

2. Many metabolic problems have been related to deficiencies of one or more of these essential trace elements- i.e., a deficiency of copper is seen in some forms of anemia, low levels of silicon may result in atherosclerosis, deficiencies of zinc may result in impaired wound healing, skin changes and growth retardation in children, deficiencies of chromium have been associated with blood sugar disturbances and insulin sensitivity, etc. (9), (10).

3. Trace mineral deficiencies may occur despite high dietary intakes due to sub-optimal nutrient absorption -because of such factors as inappropriate stomach acid secretion (11), (12), malabsorption (13), presence of phytates and other substances in the diet which inhibit absorption (14), interactions with other minerals (15), etc

4. Toxic metal accumulations in the body such as aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury -may interfere with proper vitamin and mineral utilization and can induce unfavorable metabolic consequences, i.e., neurological and psychomotor dysfunction from chronic lead intoxication (16), (17), aluminum overload (18), and mercury toxicity (19), hypertension from excessive cadmium stores (20). le-ad induced anemia (21), saturnine gout from excessive lead exposure (22), etc.

5. Several investigators in Japan, Sweden, Canada and the U.S. have shown that concentrations of these toxic elements in the hair provide an accu- rate and relatively permanent record of expo- sure. They also found a good correlation between concentrations in hair and concentrations in internal organs (23), (24).

6. From evidence accumulating in the trace mineral research area, it seems possible that birth defects of unknown causation may be related to nutritional factors (25), (26), (27), (28).

7. A multitude of signs and symptoms -may be indicative of a mineral imbalance including fatigue, headaches, depression, irritability, nervousness, recurrent infections, periodontal disease, etc. (29).

8. Many drugs can affect mineral metabolism- including diuretics which influence sodium – potassium balance, oral contraceptives which affect zinc, copper, magnesium and iron levels, etc. (30).

9. There are over 3,000 enzyme (biochemical) reactions that ultimately control metabolism- and at least 85% of these depend upon selective trace minerals for their activity (31). Therefore, inadequate mineral balance may result in suboptimal health.

10. Hair tissue mineral analysis is responsive not only to trace mineral levels – in the diet but to all other factors which influence their metabolism including stress, exercise, endocrine and gastro- intestinal function, etc. (32).

Who should have a hair analysis?

Preventive oriented health practitioners recommend that everyone, especially children, should have their hair analyzed at least once per year as a measure for early detection of imbalances and/or toxicities. In this manner, individualized nutritional and lifestyle programs can be instituted to correct minor metabolic imbalances before they become advanced metabolic disease conditions. Special cases may warrant monitoring on a more frequent basis, (three to six months), i.e. those people on prolonged drug therapy, those with advanced metabolic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, etc., and patients on detoxification and specific treatment programs.

Are health professionals utilizing hair analysis?


Yes, hair analysis laboratories have extensive lists of nutritionally oriented doctors who utilize their services.
However, it is not simply the performing of a hair analysis that is important but instead it is the interpretation and subsequent follow-up to correct metabolic imbalances that is of prime importance. This requires specialized training and thus this procedure is suited more to the holistic and nutritional type practices and those practitioners involved in preventive medicine.
As a patient you have the satisfaction of knowing that practitioners utilizing hair tissue mineral analysis are using one of the most valuable and advanced screening techniques, especially when used in conjunction with blood and urine analysis and dietary surveys. Research into the application and interpretation of hair analysis is continuing to improve and emphasize its use as a valid health care tool.
Should you have any questions regarding hair analysis, please do not hesitate to ask a practitioner skilled in using this technique.

How is hair analyzed?


Approximately 2 tablespoons (about I gram) of your hair is taken from the recent growth of hair on the nape of the neck. Confirmation of environmental or other toxic metal exposure in some cases may require an analysis of pubic hair (which is not routinely used) to rule out contamination of scalp hair by commercial preparations, (e.g. certain shampoos, tints, permanents and other hair treatments). Your sample is analyzed by reputable laboratories using highly sophisticated and expensive laboratory equipment such as emission spectrophotometry, a method which can analyze for trace elements as low as a few parts per billion. Both the doctor and the patient are provided with a computerized copy of the results and the interpretation of the analysis. References are also included for further reading.

What are the advantages of hair tissue analysis over blood, urine, or other tissue analysis?


Research has shown that hair, more than blood or urine, closely reflects the minerals the body is accumulating, particularly in cases of toxic metal exposure (often the hair will indicate toxicity when the blood or urine VA]] not) (33), (34), (35). Hair is the second most metabolically active tissue in the body (second only to bone marrow) (36) and trace elements in particular are accumulated in hair at concentrations that are generally 10-50 times higher than those present in blood or urine (37), (38), (39). Certain blood mineral levels, e.g. serum calcium or serum iron can many times not reflect the true status of the nutrient because the blood is heavily buffered against significant changes in these concentrations (40).
Also, whereas blood and urine chemical analyses identify the level of chemical constituents at a specific instant in time, hair trace mineral analysis measures the deposition of elements averaged over a 3 month period. This affords trace element analysis of hair the unique perspective of assessing metabolic fitness and monitoring metabolic trends (41), (42). Also, blood is an extracellular transporting medium for substances in the body and urine is indicative only of what the body is eliminating, not what is being stored. Hair, however, represents intracellular deposition of minerals and is in essence a living biopsy specimen (43).
Hair tissue mineral analysis is a relatively inexpensive, non-invasive and biologically stable sampling technique and avoids the expense and discomfort of other tissue biopsies, (e.g. liver, bone, skin) (44) (Napoleon’s hair, analyzed in 1961 contained approximately 100 times the usual value for arsenic, implicating he may have been slowly poisoned) (45). Hair analysis provides enough evidence to allow one to probe the molecular matrix of the patient in a very subtle biochemical manner.

What scientific data is available to support hair analysis?


There are over 1200 referential citations from respectable institutions and leading medical journals that have confirmed the value of hair tissue mineral analysis as a screening tool.
Information Courtesy of  Dr. George M. Tamari, Ph.D. President, Anamol Laboratories

  1. World Health Organization Expert Committee: Trace Elements in Human Nutrition, WHO Tech. Rep. Ser. 1973; 532
  2. HARPER, N.A., RODWELL, V.W., Myers, P.A.: Review of Physiological Chemistry, Lange Med. Publications, Los Altos, Ca, 94022, 1979; 579, 582.
  3. 2. ibid: 577.
  4. GUTHRIE, H. A.: Introductory Nutrition, The V. C. Mosby Co., SE. Louis, 1975: 130.
  5. PETERING, H. G., YE.-XGER, D. W., WITHERUP, S. O.: Trace Metal Content of Hair: If Cadmium and Lead of Hu- man Hair in Relation to Age and Sex, Arch. Environ. Health 1973; 27: 327- 330.
  6. CHATTOPADHYAY, A., ROBERTS, T. M., JERVIS, R. E.: Scalp Hair as a Monitor of Community Exposure to Lead, Arch. Environ. Health, 1977; 32. 226-236.
  7. VALENTIN, I. L., KANG, H. K., SPIVEY, G.: Arsenic Levels in Human Blood. Urine and Hair in Response to Exposure via Drinking Water. Environ. Res. 1979; 20: 24-32.
  8. VALENTIN, J., KANG, H. SPIVEY, G.: Selenium Levels in Human Blood, Urine and Hair in Response to Exposure via Drinking Water, Environ. Res. 1978; 17: 347-355.
  9. MCBEAt4, L. D., MOHSEN MARLOUDII, M.S., REINHOLD, J. G., HALSTED, J. A.: Correlation of Zinc Concentrations in Human Plasma and Hair, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 1971; 24: 506-509.
  10. SliROEDER, H. A., NASON, A. P.: Trace Metals in Human Hair, J. Invest. Dermatol. 1969; 71-78.
  11. SCHMID, F.:Mineralien und Spuren- elemente in lyophilisierten Geweben, Cytbiol. Review 1982; 2: 89-95.
  12. RICKS, C. M., HORTON, R. J. M.: Hair Trace Metal Levels and Environmental Exposure, Am. J. Epidem. 1971; 69: 84-92.
  13. KOPITO, L., BYERS, R.K., SCHWACHMAN H., Lead in Hair of Children with Chronic Lead Poisoning, New Eng. J. Med.1967,276:949-953.
  14. PETERING, H.G., YEAGER, 1).W., WiTliERUP, S.O.: Trace Metal Content of Hair, Arch. Environ. Health 1971; 23: 202-206.
  15. PETERING, H. G., YEAGER, D. W., WITHEPUP, S. O.: Trace Metal Content of Hair, Arch. Environ. Health 1971; 23: 202-206.
  16. STRAIN, W.H., POPIES, W.J., FLYNN, A., HILL, Jr., 0. A.: in Delbert D. Hem- phil(ed.) Trace Substances in Environ- mental Health V, University of Missouri, Columbia, 1972:383-397.
  17. KLEVAY, L. M.: Hair as a Biopsy Material: 11 Assessment of Copper Nutritive, Amer. J. Clin. Nutr. 1970; 23:1194-1202.
  18. MAuGm, T. H.: Hair: A Diagnostic Tool to Complement Blood Serum and Urine, Science 1978; 202: 1271-1273.
  19. JAcoH, R. D., KLEVAY, L. M., LOGAN, G. M.: Hair Metal as an Index of Heptic Metal in Rats: Copper and Zinc, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 1978; 31: 477-480.
  20. MACDONALD, I., WARREN, P. J.: The Copper Content of the Liver and Hair of African Children with Kwashiorkor, Brit. J. Nutr. 1961; 15:593-596.
  21. EPSTEIN, O., Boss, A.M.B., LYON, T. a B., SHERLOCK, S.: Hair Copper in Primary Biliary Cirrhosis, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 1980; 33: 965-967.
  22. BLAND, J.: Hair Tissue Mineral Analy- sis. Northwest Diagnostic 1980; 11.
  23. So(ToH, M., UZUKA, M., SAKAMOTO, M., KOBOSI, T.: in W. Montagna and R. L. Dobson (eds.), Advances in Biology of skin, VIX, Hair Growth, Pergauisn Press, New York 1967; 183-202.
  24. FLESH, P. in S. Rothman (ed.), Physiology and Biochemistry of the Skin, University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill. 1954; 601-661.
  25. MCKENZIE, J. M.: Alteration of the Zinc and Copper Concentration of Hair, Am. 1. Clin. Nutr. 1978; 31: 470-476.
  26. SORENSON, J. F. J., MELi3y, E. G., No[D, P. J., PETERING, H. G.. Interferences in the Determination of Metallic Elements in Human Hair, Arch. Environ. Health 1973,27:36-41.
  27. HILDEBRANT, D.C., WHITE, D.H.; Trace Element Analysis in Hair: An Evaluation, Clin. Chem. 1974; 20: 148-151.
  28. KLEVAY, L. M.: Hair as a Biopsy Material, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 1970; 23: 377-378.
  29. MCKENZIE, J. M.: Tissue Concentration of Cadmium, Zinc, and Copper from Autopsy Samples, New Zealand J.Med. 1974; 79:1016-1019.
  30. HARRISON, W.W., YURACHEK, J.P., BENSON, C. A.: The Determination of Trace Elements in Human Hair by Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy, Clin. Chem. Acta 1969; 23: 83-91.
  31. REEVES, R. D., JOLLEY, K. W., BUCK- LEY, P.D.: Lead in Human Hair: Rela- tion to Age, Sex, and Environmental Factors, Bull. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 1975,14:579-587.
  32. CLEG, M.S., KEEN, C.L., HURE.,XY, L.S.: Biological Trace Element Pes. 1981; 3:107-115.
  33. IMAES, D., PATE, B.: Spatial Distribution of Copper in Individual Human Hairs, J. Forsensic Sci. 1976, 21.- 127-149.
  34. RECHCIGL, M. (ed. in chief): CRC Handbook Series in Nutrition and Food, section E: Nutritional Disorders; III Effect of Nutrient Deficiences in Man, CRC Press Inc., West Palm Beach, Flori- da,33409,1978.
  35. SCHROEDER, H.A.: The Poisons Around Us, Keats Publishing Inc., New Canaan, Connecticut, 06840, 1974.
  36. RECHCIGL, M. Jr. (ed. in chief): CRC Handbook Series in Nutrition and Food, section E: Nutritional Disorders; I Effect of Nutrient Excess and Toxicities in Animals and Man, CRC Press Inc., 2255 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., West Palm Beach, Florida, 33409, 1978.
  37. PFELFFER, C. C.: Zinc and Other Micro- Nutrients., Keats Publishing Inc., New Canaan, Connecticut 1978; 11.
  38. SETYAADMADJA, A. T. S. H., CHERAS- KIN, E., RINGDORF, W. M. J.: Ascorbic Acid and Carbohydrate Metabolism, J. Am. Gerat. Soc. 1965; 13: 924-934.
  39. HARPER, H. A.: Review of Physiological Chemistry, 14th Ed., Los Altos, California, Lange Medical Publications 1973; 236.
  40. SEVEN, M.J. (ed.): Metal Binding in Medicine, Philadelphia, Lippincott 1960; 321.
  41. HARPER, H. A.: Review of Physiological Chemistry, 17th Ed., Los Altos, California, Lange Medical Publications 1979; 511.
  42. EVERSON, G. J., SHRAI)ER, R. E.: Abnormal Glucose Tolerance in Manganese-deficient Guinea Pigs, J. Ntr. 1968; 94: 89-94.
  43. BLAND, J.: Dietary Calcium, Phosphorus, and their Relationship to Bone Formation and Parathyroid Activity, J. John Bastry Coll. Nat. Med. 1979; 1: 3-7.
  44. TAMARI, G. M., RONA, Z.: Hair Mineral Levels and their Correlation with Abnormal Glucose Tolerance, Cytobiol. Rev. 1985-, 4: 191-196.
  45. MANDELL, M., SCANLOW, L. W.: Dr. Mandell’s 5-day Allergy Relief System, Pocket Books, New York, 1979.
  46. WILLIA,’,IS, R.J.: Physicians’s Hand- book of Nutritional Science. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, Illinois, 1978.
  47. HILL, C. H., MATRONE, H.: Chemical Parameters in the Study of Invivo and Invitro Interactions of Transition Elements, Fe. Proc-, Fed. Amer. Soc. Biol. 1970; 29: 1474-1481.
  48. HARTMAN, R. H., MATRONE, G., WISE, G. H.. Effect of High Dietary Manganese on Hemoglobin Formation, J. LNuEr. 1955, 55: 429-439.
  49. THOMPSON, A.B. R., OL.ATUNBOSUN, D., VALBERG, L. S.: Interrelation of Intestinal Transport System for Manganese and Iron, J. Lab. Clin. Med. 1971; 78: 642-655.
  50. CHETTY, K. N.: Interactions of Cobalt and Iron in Chicks, Ph. D. Thesis, North Carolina State University, 1972.
  51. NORD13ERG, G. F. et. al.: Factors Influencing Metabolism and Toxicity of Metals: A Concensus Report, Environ. Hlth Persp. 1978; 25: 3-41.
  52. SANSTEAD, N.H.: Nutrient Interactions with Toxic Elements, Advances in Modem Toxicology 1977; 2: 241-256.
  53. MAHAFFEY, K. R., RADER, J. I.: Metabolic Interactions: Lead, Calcium, and Iron, Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 1980; 355: 285-297.
  54. MAHAFFEY, K., GOYER, R.A.: J. Lab. Clin. \4ed. 1970; 76: 933-942.
  55. CAPPL, I.D. PINNOCK, M.H., DoR- RELL, H. M., WILLIAMS, D.C., GRANT, E. C. G.: Comparison of Concentrations of Some Trace, Bulk, and Toxic Metals in the Hair of Normal and Dyslexic Children, Clin. Chem. 1981; 27: 879-881.