As the science of nutrition has evolved, the relationship between diet and optimal health and performance is now widely accepted and understood. It has become clear that nutrition provides information to the cells and genes, and that diet and nutrition play an essential role in health risk prevention and recovery.
However, the science behind how nutrition influences health becomes even more vital as health issues become more common and prominent, such as obesity, diabetes, joint problems and the ever-growing population with early stage dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Just as no one has identical DNA, there is no cookie-cutter approach to structuring a nutritional program to complement everyone’s individual needs. The goal is to correct body chemistry and improve cellular function. A properly analyzed hair mineral analysis (HMA) provides a picture of body chemistry, metabolism and stress level, providing a guide for targeted supplementation.
Minerals are involved in almost all enzymatic reactions in the body. Without enzyme activity, life does not exist. The foundation of health lies in adequate mineral intake and ideal mineral ratios.
Hair is a recording filament that provides a record of past and current mineral levels and metabolic changes, furnishing an overview of key mineral interrelationships, imbalances and deficiencies that have developed over time, as well as toxic metal accumulation that may need correction. HMA differs from urine, saliva or sweat analysis because they only measure the levels that are absorbed, then excreted. Blood mineral tests only measure what is in the circulation, but not what is necessarily bioavailable for cellular function.1,2
The hair analysis graph shows the 20 nutrient mineral levels, including calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, chromium, selenium and more. These minerals are necessary for proper functioning of the organs and tissues of the body but can also be stored in organs or tissues where they don’t belong and interfere with proper function. Important mineral ratios have been established that indicate ideal metabolic balance and function. Some minerals need to be replenished and balanced. Some minerals are toxic such as aluminum, mercury, arsenic, cadmium and lead, and should be detoxified. Toxic metals directly interfere with cellular and metabolic function.3,4
Toxins refer to anything that can damage the cells and tissues of the body and their function. Most everyone has a level of toxic metals in their body. Hair mineral analysis is an excellent tool to identify the amount of toxins in the body and how effectively they are being removed. When the body isn’t detoxifying properly, toxins can become buried deep within body organs, tissues and bones, according to a presentation by Lawrence Wilson, M.D., in conjunction with Whole System Healing.
When these toxins accumulate in the body there can be the “tip of the iceberg vs. the whole iceberg” concept. This means the toxins that show up on the hair test, particularly on a first test, can be the tip of the iceberg in terms of toxicity, while others are buried within the body, unable to be detoxified effectively. A personalized nutritional balancing program will slowly uncover and remove the buried layers of toxicity over a period of several years or more, Wilson posits.
Balancing mineral levels is imperative to achieve proper mineral ratios. All minerals have complex interactions and affect each other. Possible deficiencies, inadequate intake, malabsorption disorders or other metabolic imbalances are indicated by low mineral values. Excessive consumption or storage of one or more minerals, or other imbalances, are indicated by high mineral values. Excess intake of a single mineral can also decrease the intestinal absorption of another mineral. For example, a high intake of calcium depresses intestinal zinc absorption, while an excess intake of zinc can depress copper absorption. Poor equilibrium between nutrients can result in an adverse effect upon health.5,6
In conclusion, hair mineral analysis is a basic, cost-effective test that delivers accurate information regarding an individual's history of mineral imbalances or toxicity. However, the crucial aspect of these results is the proper interpretation of the cause and effect relationships that can precede health issues in either animals or humans. HMA results can form the foundation to aid in the nutritional support of mineral imbalances and the health issues associated with them. To best apply HMA results, the most important criterion is that the analyzer has the clear knowledge of the complex interactions between various minerals with each other, whether antagonistic and/or synergistic.7,8
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Jack Grogan is chief science officer for Uckele Health & Nutrition. He is a recognized expert in hair mineral analysis, a valuable tool in determining the causes of nutritional imbalances or deficiencies. With considerable experience in the fields of biology, biochemistry and nutrition, he has been influential in the development of hundreds of proprietary nutritional formulas and programs.
1 Flynn A et al. “Trace Element Nutriture and Metabolism Through Head Hair Analysis.” Trace Substances in Environmental Health. 1971;1:383-397.
2 Namkoong S. “Reliability on Intra-Laboratory and Inter-Laboratory Data of Hair Mineral Analysis Comparing with Blood Analysis.” Ann Dermatrol. 2013;25(1):67-72.
3 Wright RO, Baccarelli A. “Metals and Neurotoxicology.” J Nutr. 2007;137:2809-2813.
4 Ryabukhin YS, “Activation Analysis of Hair as an Indicator of Contamination of Man by Environmental Trace Elements Pollutants.” At Energy Rev. 1976;RL-50:135.
5 Watts DL. “Nutrient Interrelationships Minerals- Vitamins – Endocrines.” J Orthomol Med. 1990;5(1):11-19.
6 Miekeley N et al. “Elemental Anomalies in Hair as Indicators of Endocrinologic Pathologies and Deficiencies in Calcium and Bone Metabolism.” J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2001;15(1):46-55.
7 Jenkins DW. “Toxic Trace Metals in Mammalian Hair and Nails.” United States Environmental Protection Agency Publication. 1979.
8 Maugh TH, “Hair: A Diagnostic Tool to Complement Blood Serum and Urine.” Science, New Series. 1978;202(4374):1271-1273.