Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Guide: What Are Trace Elements?

Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Guide: What Are Trace Elements?

Posted by Eileen Durfee on 23rd Apr 2021

Woman With Long HairA healthy head of hair has anywhere from 80,000 to 120,000 hairs and grows about a half-inch per month. Like the proverbial canary in a coalmine, your hair is a barometer of your physical health.

Hair tissue is "dead" tissue comprised of keratin and other proteins. Hair analysis offers insight into trace elements in the body. Trace minerals, in small amounts, are essential for a healthy body.

Are you wondering what a hair tissue analysis can do for you? Keep reading for valuable information on the subject of hair tissue mineral analysis.

What Is Hair Tissue?

Unlike other body tissues, such as skin, hair is "dead" tissue. Though the hair itself is dead tissue, it's anchored to your head through a hair follicle. At the base of each hair follicle is a bulb in which living cells grow and divide. This builds the hair shaft. The bulb also delivers hormones to the hair.

Every person's hair goes through stages throughout her life depending on the hormones circulating to the hair. Your hair also goes through growth cycles, with 85%-90% of your hair follicles in the growth (anagen) phase most of the time.

The other cycles of your hair include the catagen and telogen stages. The catagen stage is transitional when the hair follicle shrinks and hair growth slows. This happens over a period of a few weeks. During the resting (telogen) stage, growth stops while the hair falls from the follicle. New hair in the anagen phase pushes the old hair out and begins the cycle over again.

The "How" of Hair Tissue Analysis

Hair tissue analysis tests a hair sample from the scalp or the roots of the hair. This is done by viewing the hair or the hair follicle through a comparison microscope.

A scientist uses a compound light microscope for hair tissue analysis. The compound light microscope has its own light source and ocular lenses inside binocular eyepieces. A rotating nosepiece contains an objective lens close to the specimen.

The scientist sometimes cuts the hair or grinds it into a powder before the examination. There are also chemical tests for analyzing hair samples.

Some labs use mass spectrometry for hair tissue analysis. Spectrometry offers a more in-depth look at the hair sample. It enables molecular structure and composition identification.

Why Hair Analysis?

Hair analysis is a useful tool for detecting trace elements such as heavy metals in the hair. It's also used for detecting different drugs in the system.

An employer may use hair analysis for drug testing for illegal drugs such as cocaine. It's more effective than a urine test because it detects drugs in the system taken as long as three months before the test.

In the case of heavy metals, hair tissue mineral analysis helps identify toxins such as mercury, aluminum, or arsenic. It can also detect mineral deficiencies in the body.

Scalp of the Head

Trace Elements

Your body needs some trace elements for proper functioning. Minerals are inorganic and help the body form teeth and bones. They also help in nerve function.

Some of those trace minerals include:

  • Copper
  • Chromium
  • Iron
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum iodine
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Chloride

Although only small amounts are necessary, they're crucial for good health. You can look healthy and function well but still be deficient in some crucial nutrients. The deficiency could cause problems later, such as iron-deficiency anemia.

The Importance of Measuring Trace Elements

Certain conditions warrant measuring trace elements in case of toxicity or deficiency. For instance, a loss of appetite, weakness, and even dementia are possible indications of aluminum toxicity.

A person suffering from severe diarrhea, vomiting, confusion, and headaches could have arsenic toxicity. Toxic mercury levels in the body cause a loss of coordination and even vision and hearing loss or problems.

If you're having chronic issues of any type, it's worth getting a hair tissue analysis to rule out trace element or metal toxicity. Any trace element becomes toxic if consumed in excessive amounts.

The Dangers of Lead

Most people know about the dangers of lead. Several studies concluded that Beethoven died due to lead poisoning from lead-based treatments from his doctor! Hair analysis of Beethoven's hair confirmed high levels of lead.

Many older homes still contain dangerous levels of lead. It's most often in the old paint, sometimes hidden under newer layers of non-lead paint.

A child chewing on the windowsill of an old home can consume toxic levels of lead. Old doorframes, porches, banisters, and railings are other sources of lead. Flaking lead paint from the outside of a home can contaminate nearby soil and play areas.

Playground surfaces made from lead-containing shredded rubber are another source of harmful lead. Be aware of lead sources in the environment.

Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis

Are you wondering about getting your own hair tissue mineral analysis? It's an easy and painless test you can do from home.

You'll cut some hair from your head and send the sample to the lab in a special packet. A good lab uses a mass spectrometer and measures heavy minerals and toxic metals in the hair sample. The scientist should not wash the hair sample before testing.

Young Girl Flipping Hair

Results show the current levels of elements and a ratio of toxins, indicating whether the elements in your body are in balance.

Do You Need Hair Tissue Testing?

Are you struggling with your health? Hair tissue testing can help identify a trace mineral deficiency or heavy metal toxicity in your body.

Information is power, and you can take the hair tissue testing results to a doctor for further follow-up if necessary. Don't struggle with poor health. Be proactive and find out what's happening in your body. You could have heavy metal toxicity and not realize it.

If you're ready for a hair testing kit, we've got you covered!  Take a look here for the different hair tissue mineral analysis options available.