In this article you will learn what hair tissue mineral analysis is, why test for minerals, the benefit of hair tissue mineral analysis, what your hair is trying to tell you, and the difference between blood and hair tests.

Lets jump in!

What is Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis?

Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA), is a non-invasive mineral biopsy that measures the mineral content of a hair tissue sample at a cellular level. 

Hair analysis is a standard test used worldwide for the biological monitoring of trace elements and toxic metals in human and animal species. This same technology is used for the testing of rock and soil for mineral levels in the agriculture industry. 

As a screening test, HTMA measures the levels and ratios of elements found in the hair tissue with scientific precision and accuracy, including both the essential nutrient minerals as well as toxic elements, commonly referred to as "Heavy Metals".

Hair may provide a continuous record of nutritional status.
— Maugh, T. H. Hair: A Diagnostic Tool to Complement Blood Serum and Urine. Science 1978; 202

HTMA provides a cellular blueprint that enables an advanced nutritional program to be designed that aids in the progressing of development, balancing biochemistry, and identifying the correct dietary and supplementation protocols that are essential for each individual’s metabolic needs at the cellular level. 

Micronutrients are needed only in minuscule amounts, these substances are the “magic wands” that enable the body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances essential for proper growth and development. As tiny as the amounts are, however, the consequences of their absence are severe. Iodine, vitamin A and iron are most important in global public health terms; their lack represents a major threat to the health and development of populations the world over, particularly children and pregnant women in low-income countries.
— World Health Organization

Why Test for Minerals?

Minerals are involved in nearly every metabolic process in the body – which means they are absolutely necessary for growth and development. Minerals are essential to the human body, but unlike vitamins, minerals cannot be made by the body and must be obtained from the environment through our nutrition. In fact, minerals are required to utilize vitamins and enzymes properly.

In living organisms, minerals function as co-enzymes and catalysts, which enable the body to perform its natural functions such as energy production, growth, regeneration and development.

The human body, just like all other expressions of organisations in nature, must maintain its proper chemical balance. This balance depends on adequate mineral levels and ratios. The level of each mineral in the body affects every other mineral, and if these mineral imbalances or inadequacies are not acknowledged, there is a chain reaction of imbalances and deficiencies that lead to illness, undernourishment and toxic element accumulation.

Benefits of Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA)

HTMA indicates potential health and nutritional imbalances by pinpointing mineral levels and ratios by at the cellular level.

These nutritional elements or micronutrients are the "raw materials" that cells require. Cells are the fundamental living units of our body, and they are essential for adequate nourishment to support and promote optimal function, structure and development of the body as a complex whole and living cellular organism.

This invaluable analytical test measures the mineral content of a hair sample and allows a correct program of diet and supplementation to be designed for the individual’s specific needs. Because of this unique ability, HTMA has the potential to save thousands of dollars, in contrast to wasting time, energy and money on "see how you feel if.." methods. These "shotgun supplementation" methods and are harmful, unsustainable and deceptive.

High levels of toxic metals, which can and are measured by an HTMA, inhibit the body’s natural ability to process and assimilate specific nutritional elements that are essential for health and are proven to be correlated with many types of diseases
such as autoimmune conditions, autism, and Alzheimer's disease.

The results of a hair tissue mineral analysis when combined with a properly designed Integrative Mineral Balancing Program impacts development, weight and body composition, genetic expression (hologenome), glucose tolerance, nutrient metabolism, microorganism diversity, organ and glandular vitality, poor mineral absorption, heavy metal exposure and overall development.

What's your hair trying to tell you?

A sample of hair, when cut close to the scalp, provides information about the mineral activity in the hair that took place at the cellular level over the past three to four months. This is because the root of the hair below the skin's surface contains living cells, where hair grows.  These cells depend on a transportation medium, the blood supply, for the nourishment they require for adequate functioning, structure, growth and development.

As these cells grow and divide, minerals are sealed into the growing hair shaft, creating a reservoir of elements. If your health, lifestyle, diet or environment has created a mineral imbalance or toxic mineral excess, it will be recorded in the hair shaft. Hair tissue mineral analysis can indicate potential health imbalances and assist in designing nutritional programs that are unique and effective. This is because mineral levels in the hair tissue provide a reliable indicator for the mineral stores in the whole body. This is especially true when interpreted correctly, and the hair has not been washed at the lab. 

Information from the hair analysis, along with dietary and nutritional evaluations, provides the basis for the integrative mineral balancing program to establish and maintain optimal levels of wellness. By balancing tissue mineral levels and ratios with lifestyle modifications, proper diet for your oxidation/metabolic rate, herbs, nutritional supplements and detoxification protocols, many physical and behavioural health conditions can be prevented or reversed.

Birth defects are traced to improper dietary habits of the mother; hair weakness or poor scalp health is another birth defect that a mother passes on to a child.
If one is born with a thick shock of hair and keeps it until adulthood and then somewhere along the way loses it, it is his own doing, his own neglect of proper diet, including minerals.
— Dr. Melvin E. Page in Body Chemistry in Health and Disease

Is there a difference between blood and hair tests?

The hair is a storage organ and to some degree an excretory tissue. Measuring the mineral content of blood gives a good indication of the minerals being transported around the body. However, blood cannot accurately measure minerals stored in tissues. This is because mineral levels are kept at a relatively constant level in the blood, even when an imbalance is present due to the bodies innate buffering mechanisms.

The balance is maintained at the expense of other tissues such as the hair. What this means is that the hair will change first, sometimes years before the blood. HTMA is best used in conjunction with other appropriate pathology tests for the most comprehensive metabolic picture. However, as a screening test, it is very economical with the information that can be gleaned. 

Data have been compiled from the available world literature on the accumulation and bioconcentration of selected toxic trace metals in human hair and nails and other mammalian hair, fur, nails, claws, and hoofs. The toxic trace metals and metalloids include antimony, arsenic, boron, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium, tin, and vanadium. These have been tabulated by toxic metal, geographic area, subjects, sex, age, exposure gradient, analyses in ppm, and authority, from over 400 references. . . The various uses of hair for biological monitoring are reviewed for correlating with environmental exposure gradients, diseases associated with excesses and deficiencies, geographic distribution, and historic trends . . . . It appears to be that if hair and nail samples are collected, cleaned, and analyzed properly with the best analytical methods under controlled conditions by experienced personnel, the data are valid. Human hair and nails have been found to be meaningful and representative tissues for biological monitoring for most of these toxic metals.
— Jenkins, D. TOXIC TRACE METALS IN MAMMALIAN HAIR AND NAILS. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., EPA/600/4-79/049 (NTIS PB80103997), 1979

Please note: The laboratory we work with is a fully accredited and government certified clinical facility. ARL uses only the most sophisticated instrumentation available today - the Perkin Elmer Elan 9000 ICP Mass Spectrometer, to assess mineral levels in parts per million or parts per billion. This laboratory does not wash or rinse hair samples, like many others, providing more accurate results and information.