- Measurement of hair toxic and essential elements
- Analysis by ICP-MS
- Requires only 0.25 g hair
Extensive research has established that scalp hair element levels are related to human systemic levels. The strength of this relationship varies for specific elements, and many researchers consider hair as the tissue of choice for assessing toxic and several nutrient elements. Unlike blood, hair element levels are not regulated by homeostatic mechanisms. Thus, deviations in hair element levels often appear prior to overt symptoms and can thereby be a valuable preliminary tool for predicting the development of physiological abnormalities.
With respect to its contained elements, hair is essentially an excretory tissue rather than a functional tissue. Hair element analysis provides important information which, in conjunction with symptoms and other laboratory values, can assist with the early detection of physiological disorders associated with aberrations in essential and toxic element metabolism.
As protein is synthesised in the hair follicle, elements are incorporated permanently into the hair with no further exchange or equilibration with other tissues. Scalp hair is easy to sample, and because it grows an average of one to two cm per month, it contains a “temporal record” of element metabolism and exposure to toxic elements.
Nutrient elements including magnesium, chromium, zinc, copper and selenium are obligatory co-factors for hundreds of important enzymes and also are essential for the normal functions of vitamins. The levels of these elements in hair are correlated with levels in organs and other tissues.
Through recent vast improvements in technology, instrumentation, and application of scientific protocols, hair element analysis has become a valuable tool in providing dependable and useful data for physicians and their patients. The U.S. Environmental Protection agency stated in a recent report that “…if hair samples are properly collected and cleaned, and analyzed by the best analytic methods, using standards and blanks as required, in a clean and reliable laboratory by experienced personnel, the data are reliable.” (U.S.E.P.A. 600/4-79-049)
Hair is vulnerable to external elemental contamination by means of certain shampoos, bleaches, dyes, and curling or straightening treatments. Therefore, the first step in the interpretation of a hair element report is to rule out sources of external contamination.
The Importance of a Lab ‘Wash’ Process
Elimination of external contamination is crucial for an accurate and reflective hair sample result;
—Appropriate methodology, calibrated reference ranges, and extensive reference data allow for the most accurate reflection and interpretation of body mineral status via hair.
Hair element analysis is a valuable and inexpensive screen for physiological excess, deficiency or mal distribution of elements. It should not be considered a standalone diagnostic test for essential element function, and should be used in conjunction with patient symptoms and other laboratory tests.
Since 1972, Doctor’s Data, Inc. has performed over four million hair elements tests for physicians and other health care providers, accumulating what is probably the largest database regarding this procedure.