A hair mineral analysis doesn’t show disease states, but shows function very well, especially thyroid function and adrenal gland function. A hair test is often a far more sensitive test than serum or other hormone tests. This means it will detect subtle thyroid imbalances, and at times, much sooner than other assessments. The hair test also offers clues as to the cause.
Thyroid Function On A Hair Mineral Analysis
To test a person’s thyroid function, most doctors normally assess serum hormone levels (T4, T3, TSH) and perhaps antibody tests or other tests. However, assessing serum hormone levels is inadequate because this does not tend to address:
- How well the hormones pass from the blood into the cells. This depends on the integrity and permeability of the cell membranes. Slow oxidizers, for example, often have reduced cell permeability, while many fast oxidizers have excessive cell permeability.
- How powerfully the hormones act on the cells, once they enter the cells. The mitochondria, for example, are our cellular energy factories and require many nutrients. If even one of these is deficient or if toxic metals are excessive, thyroid hormones may not be able to do their job of increasing the metabolic rate at the cellular level.
The Key Ratio To Assess Thyroid Activity
One aspect of a hair mineral analysis are Key Ratios – Calcium/Phosphorus, Sodium/Potassium, Calcium/Potassium, Zinc/Copper, Sodium/Magnesium, Calcium/Magnesium, Iron/Copper, and Calcium/Copper.
In particular, the Calcium/Potassium (Ca/K) is the ratio that indicates thyroid function. It shows a cellular effect or cellular response to thyroid hormone. The higher the Ca/K ratio on a hair test, the slower the thyroid function – this means less T3 is getting into the thyroid gland. The thyroid (and adrenals) are the major ways people’s bodies generate energy, so when the thyroid is sluggish, energy levels drop.
Hair Test vs. Blood Test for Thyroid Function
Hair test findings are quite different from serum hormone testing because it is a measure of the end result of the hormone activity upon the cells. For example, if circulating thyroid hormones cannot enter the cells very well, they will have a reduced cellular effect, even if the level of the serum hormones is perfect. A person can have perfectly normal thyroid blood test results, but the thyroid hormone isn’t getting into the cells the way it should, and this can show up on a hair mineral analysis.
Here’s How Ca and K Relate to Thyroid Function
- The thyroid regulates calcium. A well-known effect of thyroid hormones is to reduce the calcium level in the blood, and eventually in the tissues. Other factors also influence the calcium level, but thyroid hormone activity is one of the most important ones. An elevated hair calcium level is associated with a sluggish thyroid cellular effect. A low hair calcium level is associated with an excessive thyroid cellular effect. For instance, classic symptoms of hyperthyroidism (fast thyroid function) include tetany or muscle spasms, muscle tightness and muscle cramps. These are due to a low serum calcium level.
- Potassium may sensitize the tissues to thyroid hormone. A low hair potassium is associated with a diminished thyroid effect, while an elevated hair potassium may be associated with an excessive thyroid effect.
Combining the calcium and potassium levels provides the rationale for using the calcium/potassium ratio as the main indicator of thyroid effect or thyroid response.
Causes For Thyroid Imbalances
- Low available manganese, iodine and selenium. For example, selenium is required for two steps in thyroid hormone utilization. It is involved in the deiodination reaction in the thyroid and in the conversion of T4 to T3 in the tissues.
- High levels of toxic metals, especially copper, mercury and the iodine antagonists. These mineral levels are assessed on a hair mineral analysis.
- Stress. This upsets the autonomic nervous system, of which the thyroid is an important part.
- Impaired cell permeability. This can inhibit the passage of thyroid hormones into the cells.
- Pituitary imbalances. The pituitary gland produces thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Most of the factors above can damage the pituitary gland as well as the thyroid gland.
Thyroid Hormone Pathology
- With a blood test, you must test TSH, Free T3 and Free T4
- The thyroid makes T4, and T4 is converted to T3, which is the active form.
- T4 effects brain, lungs, and heart. T3 effects those and everything else.
- free T4 optimal levels: 1.5-1.6 ng/dL
- free T3 optimal levels: 3.5 ng/dL or higher (a lab range is 2.3-4.2)
- TSH optimal level: 0.5-1.5 TSH is a pituitary, signaling hormone, which is fine if the signaling is working well, but if it’s not, TSH isn’t the whole picture.
Thyroid Function and Heavy Metal Toxins
Toxic metals interfere with T4 production, block conversion of T4 to T3, and negatively impact the receptor site. Aluminum is toxic to both the pituitary and thyroid gland. Copper and mercury impair thyroid hormone production.
A hair mineral analysis tests for levels of Uranium, Arsenic, Beryllium, Mercury, Cadmium, Lead and Aluminum. The hair test also shows levels of Nickel, Strontium, Lithium, Vanadium and Rubidium. A person wants their toxic metal levels as close to zero as possible. Toxins increase stress & inflammation and will make whatever imbalances a person has a lot more pronounced (ie: blood sugar and insulin imbalances).
Detoxifying Toxic Metals
Detoxifying is a huge part of a nutritional balancing program and removing heavy metal toxins from the body. It's not just the liver that detoxifies – the entire body is involved in detoxification – skin, large intestine, liver, kidneys, lungs, glands, circulatory and lymphatic system, and every cell in your body. Get started with these 7 simple suggestions for optimal cleansing.
There are three phases involved in the liver's detoxification process, and all three phases need the proper nutrition support or detox will become sluggish or, even worse, come to a halt.
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods
1. Passwater RA and Cranton EM, Trace Elements, Hair Analysis and Nutrition. Keats Publishing, Inc., New Canaan, CT 1983.