Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) from Trace Elements labs is an analytical test that measures nutritional elements (Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Copper, Zinc, Phosphorus, Iron, Manganese, Chromium, Selenium, Boron, Cobalt, Molybdenum, Sulfur, and many lesser known minerals), essential mineral ratios, toxic minerals and toxic mineral ratios, among other things. Hair is used for internal testing because of its very nature. Hair is formed from clusters of specialized cells that make up the hair follicle. During the growth phase the hair is exposed to the internal environment such as blood, lymph and extra-cellular fluids. As the hair continues to grow and reaches the surface of the skin its outer layers harden, locking in the metabolic products accumulated during the period of formation. This biological process provides a blueprint and lasting record of mineral status and nutritional metabolic activity that has occurred during this time.
HTMA is an analytical test which measures the mineral content of the hair. The sampled hair, obtained by cutting the first inch and one-half of growth closest to the scalp at the nape of the neck, is prepared in a licensed clinical laboratory through a series of chemical and high temperature digestive procedures. Testing is then performed by Trace Elements labs using highly sophisticated detection equipment and methods to achieve the most accurate and precise results. Hair is ideal tissue for sampling and testing. First, it can be cut easily and painlessly and can be sent to the lab without special handling requirements. Second, clinical results have shown that a properly obtained sample can give an indication of mineral status and toxic metal accumulation following long term or even acute exposure.
An HTMA reveals a unique metabolic world: intracellular activity, which cannot be seen through most other tests. This provides a blueprint of the biochemistry occurring during the period of hair growth and development. Hair is used as one of the tissues of choice by the Environmental Protection Agency in determining toxic metal exposure. A 1980 report from the E.P.A. stated that human hair can be effectively used for biological monitoring of the highest priority toxic metals. This report confirmed the findings of other studies in the U.S. and abroad, which concluded that human hair may be a more appropriate tissue than blood or urine for studying community exposure to some trace elements
Minerals interact not only with each other but also with vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Minerals influence each of these factors, and they, in turn, influence mineral status. Minerals act as enzyme activators, and vitamins are synergistic to minerals as coenzymes. It is extremely rare that a mineral disturbance develops without a corresponding disturbance in the synergistic vitamin(s). It is also rare for a disturbance in the utilization or activity of a vitamin to occur without affecting a synergistic mineral(s). For example, vitamin C affects iron absorption and reduces copper retention. Boron and iron influence the status of vitamin B2. Vitamin B2 affects the relationship between calcium and magnesium. Vitamin B1 enhances sodium retention, B12 enhances iron and cobalt absorption, and vitamin A enhances the utilization of zinc, while antagonizing vitamins D and E. Protein intake will affect zinc status, etc. Therefore, evaluating mineral status provides good clues of vitamin status and requirements.
Hair tissue mineral analysis is supported by an impressive body of literature in a variety of respected national and international scientific publications. Over the past twenty-five years hair mineral testing has been extensive. Each year in the United States alone, federally licensed clinical laboratories perform over 150,000 hair mineral assays for health care professionals interested in an additional screening aid for a comprehensive patient evaluation. This does not take into consideration the thousands of subjects used in numerous continuing research studies conducted by private and government research agencies.
Explanations and pictures are from Trace Elements, Inc.