Frequently Asked Questions about Hair Mineral Analysis

Please Note: The following copyright information is reprinted here with the permission of Trace Elements, Inc.

What exactly is a hair analysis?

Your hair contains all the minerals present in your body, including nutritional minerals as well as toxic heavy metals. Hair mineral analysis is a laboratory test that measures this mineral content in the hair. In most cases, the test results reflect how much of these elements are in your tissues and provide a vivid picture of your internal environment. With this information, a world of metabolic events can be interpreted. Not only can your nutritional status be viewed, but you can also learn much about how efficiently your body is working.

Trace Elements, Inc. is a leading worldwide laboratory. After hundreds of thousands of hair analysis, Trace Elements has developed a unique ability to interpret hair analysis results, which are detailed for you in your Comprehensive (Profile 2) Hair Analysis Report.

How can a hair analysis help me achieve better health?

If we consider that diet is what we consume and nutrition is what we retain, then we can see that discovering what your body needs when it needs it is a valuable tool in creating health. After 30 years of research, hair analysis has emerged as the most practical method of testing for mineral balance in your body. This valuable tool indicates which supplements you need and which ones you should avoid. And, it's no secret doctors of almost every specialty as well as nutritionists and dietitians routinely use hair analysis. Progressive health care providers are now all aware of the vast amount of research linking nutrition to disease. But what serves as good nutrition for one person amy not be good for you. Your comprehensive Hair Analysis Report is designed to help you and your health practitioner determine the best nutritional program for you.

But how do I know that my hair analysis results are reliable?

With a properly obtained sample, hair analysis is extremely accurate. Highly sophisticated instruments and software programs allow for extensive quality control. Trace Elements specialize in hair analysis testing exclusively, analyzing over 50,000 samples per year. Most labs that provide hair analysis services do other laboratory testing as well.

Is it Ok to do a hair analysis if I've colored my hair? Do hair dyes, coloring, bleaching, perms and certain shampoos affect the results?

Certain cosmetic hair treatments can contaminate scalp hair such as dyes that contain lead acetate, bleaching processes that artificially affect calcium, and medicated shampoos that contain zinc or selenium. However, only the individual element is affected. All of the other minerals tested are valid and your overall mineral pattern won't be affected.

These days, most hair tints, dyes, rinses and highlights are chemical-based (the exception here can be men's hair darkening products which may have lead in them). The hair analysis measures mineral content, so hair dyes usually don't affect hair analysis results. However, it is best to wash your hair at least once after applying a tint, dye or color rinse before cutting a hair sample.

Bleach, highlights and perms can alter the structure of the hair. So either sample the hair before a treatment or after you have washed the hair five or more times following a lightening, bleaching or perming treatment. The hair tends to re-balance after five washings. Since highlights are done on the surface of the hair, you can simply sample a piece of hair that has not been highlighted on the underside of your hair.

For re-testing or repeat hair mineral analyses, it is best if you can cut the sample just prior to bleaching or dyeing. Grecian formula does contain lead which will appear on the hair analysis. Grecian formula is best avoided in general due to its toxicity.

Anti-dandruf shampoos like Selsun Blue will increase Selenium levels; and Head & Shoulders shampoo will increase zinc levels artificially.

Doesn't a blood or urine test tell me just as much as a hair analysis test?

Blood tests give information about your mineral levels at the time of the test only. If you've just eaten a banana, your test can indicate a high potassium level, even though you may actually need potassium supplementation. On the other hand, hair analysis results indicate your overall level of potassium - your actual storage levels over a period of time, not just what you ate that day or even that week. So a blood test will only accurately report what is being transported in your blood at the time of the test.

Testing for minerals in the urine measures the minerals that are being excreted from your body - not necessarily what has been absorbed as fuel for your body. So blood and urine tests are like snapshots whereas a hair analysis is the video of your mineral retention.

Where do I obtain the hair and how much is required?

Proper collection of the hair sample is extremely important and cannot be over-emphasized. The hair to be collected should be clean and you should not use permed, dyed or bleached hair. The hair should come from several areas of your scalp on the back portion of the head. You simply part the hair and cut as close to the scalp as possible. Cut away excess hair from the sample, leaving about 1 to 1-1/2 inches of the root end. The total amount of hair needed is about a tablespoon.

What if I don't have enough scalp hair to obtain a sufficient sample size?

If you don't have enough scalp hair or you just dyed your hair, then you can use pubic hair or nails (fingernails preferred over toenails), and then underarm hair as a last resort. But be aware that the test results may not reflect your most recent mineral patterns because these tissues grow more slowly and sporadic than scalp hair.

How is the hair mineral analysis performed?

When the hair specimen arrives at Trace Elements, it is inspected and then assigned a laboratory control number and recorded along with all pertinent patient information in a computer database. Afterwards, the sample is finely cut, then weighed accurately to within one-thousandth of a gram of the required weight. The weighed specimen is then placed into an individually marked sterile centrifuge tube in preparation for a precise temperature-controlled microwave/acid digestion process. The microwave digestion consists of a pre-programmed series of digestion sequences based upon specific temperature levels.

The combination of high temperature and ultra-pure acid will uniformly dissolve the hair strands, thereby releasing the elements contained or held within the protein matrix of the hair. The tube containing the "digested" specimen is then diluted with a special reagant and thoroughly mixed to attain complete homogeneity. The specimen is then ready for analysis using the highly sophisticated ICP-Mass Spectrometry instrument. Upon completion of analysis on the ICP-MS, the test data is automatically transferred into a dedicated computer containing a comprehensive computer program that will analyze each and every test result, including all in-line QC materials.

This custom software assists the chief chemist and laboratory director in reviewing and verifying all data for compliance to strict quality control criteria. Failure to meet these QC criteria requires that the appropriate patient specimens undergo a complete re-analysis. Upon acceptance of all test data, the data is then finally released to the report processing department for printing.

What does the laboratory report consist of?

Trace Elements comprehensive laboratory reports are based upon a vast amount of scientific studies and on-going research conducted by David L. Watts, Ph.D. Each report will evaluate several hundred factors, such as: the nutritional mineral levels, their interrelationships (ratios), heavy metals, as well as your individual metabolic categorization.

Your individualized hair analysis report takes each of these factors into consideration along with your age, sex and current health symptoms.

What emerges is a very comprehensive report complete with graphs and accompanying explanations and recommendations for you and a more technical report for your health care professional. Use of this additional screening test may help you to learn a lot about your body, perhaps answers you have been seeking for years.

To view a sample of the bar graph measurements for each mineral element and significant ratios, click here. To view a sample of the detailed explanation of results patient report, please click here.

To purchase the Profile 2 Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis, please click here or call 520-877-2637.

Questions? Email your questions by clicking here.

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