Hair mineral analysis (HMA) is a valuable health assessment tool that measures the levels of nutritional minerals as well as toxic heavy metals from a small sample of hair. Hair mineral analysis is valuable because of two reasons: 1. Minerals play an extremely important role in human health. 2. Heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, and aluminum can play an underlying role in many health issues, especially high blood pressure, brain disorders, and neurological issues.
Hair levels of minerals and toxins correlate well with levels found in our organs due to exposure in the bloodstream. In a process called keratinization, hair develops just below the surface of the scalp and hardens once it breaks through. The minerals and heavy metals that run through your system accumulate in your hair over periods of time and become enclosed in the hair allowing for a good reading of the levels of minerals and toxins in your body.
Who Can Benefit from a Hair Mineral Analysis?
Anyone who is interested in optimal health can benefit from hair mineral assessment. While vitamins seem to get all the attention, minerals are equally important to good health. It is estimated that somewhere between 20 and 80 percent of the American population do not consume sufficient levels of minerals, particularly trace minerals. A cause of severe mineral deficiency is extremely rare. In most cases, the deficiency is termed “subclinical,” signifying that levels are low but not severe enough to produce a classic deficiency sign or symptom. In many instances, the only clue of a subclinical mineral deficiency may be fatigue, lethargy, difficulty in concentration, a lack of well-being, or some other vague symptom. Hair mineral analysis can be quite helpful in identifying these sorts of subclinical deficiencies.
Hair mineral analysis is also a good idea to rule out heavy metal exposure, especially if you have symptoms associated with heavy metal toxicity (see the Table 1).
Table 1. Sources of Heavy Metals and Symptoms Associated with Toxicity
Aluminum-containing antacids; aluminum cookware; drinking water
Alzheimer's disease; dementia; behavioral disorders; impaired brain function
Minerals function as components of body enzymes and are also needed for the proper composition of bone, blood, and the maintenance of normal cell function.
Why are Heavy Metals such a Problem?
The toxic metals aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, and nickel are often referred to as “heavy metals,” to distinguish them from the nutritional minerals. Heavy metals tend to accumulate within the brain, kidneys, immune system, and other body tissues where they can severely disrupt normal function.
The typical person living in the United States has more heavy metals in their body than is compatible with good health. For example, it is conservatively estimated that up to 25 percent of the U.S. population suffers from heavy metal poisoning to some extent. Hair mineral analysis has been shown to be an exceptional screening test for heavy metal toxicity.
Where do Heavy Metals Come From?
Most of the heavy metals in the body are a result of environmental contamination due to industry. In the United States alone, more than 500,000 tons of lead are being dumped into the atmosphere to be inhaled or ingested after being deposited on food crops, in freshwater, and in soil. Other common sources of heavy metals include: cadmium and lead from cigarette smoke and old pipes and paint in old homes; mercury from dental fillings, contaminated fish, and cosmetics; and aluminum from antacids and cookware. Some professions with extremely high exposure include: battery makers, gasoline station attendants, printers, roofers, construction workers, dentists, and jewelers.