Toxic & Essential Elements - Hair (Doctor's Data)

Hair is an excretory tissue for essential, nonessential and potentially toxic elements. In general, the amount of an element that is irreversibly incorporated into growing hair is proportional to the level of the element in other body tissues. Therefore, hair elements analysis provides an indirect screening test for physiological excess, deficiency or maldistribution of elements in the body. Clinical research indicates that hair levels of specific elements, particularly potentially toxic elements such as cadmium, mercury, lead and arsenic, are highly correlated with pathological disorders. For such elements, levels in hair may be more indicative of body stores than the levels in blood and urine.

All screening tests have limitations that must be taken into consideration. The correlation between hair element levels and physiological disorders is determined by numerous factors. Individual variability and compensatory mechanisms are major factors that affect the relationship between the distribution of elements in hair and symptoms and pathological conditions. It is also very important to keep in mind that scalp hair is vulnerable to external contamination of elements by exposure to hair treatments and products. Likewise, some hair treatments (e.g. permanent solutions, dyes, and bleach) can strip hair of endogenously acquired elements and result in false low values. Careful consideration of the limitations must be made in the interpretation of results of hair analysis. The data provided should be considered in conjunction with symptomology, diet analysis, occupation and lifestyle, physical examination and the results of other analytical laboratory tests.

Caution: The contents of this report are not intended to be diagnostic and the physician using this information is cautioned against treatment based solely on the results of this screening test. For example, copper supplementation based upon a result of low hair copper is contraindicated in patients afflicted with Wilson’s Disease.

Aluminum

Optimal range: 0 - 7 µg/g

Antimony

Optimal range: 0 - 0.066 µg/g

Possible sources of antimony: 
- Food and smoking are the usual sources of antimony. Thus cigarette smoke can externally contaminate hair, as well as contribute to uptake via inhalation. 
- Gunpowder (ammunition) often contains antimony. Firearm enthusiasts often have elevated levels of antimony in hair. 

Other possible sources are: 
- textile industry, 
- metal alloys, 
- and some anti-helminthic and anti-protozoal drugs. 
- Antimony is also used in the manufacture of paints, glass, ceramics, solder, batteries, bearing metals and semiconductors.

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Arsenic

Optimal range: 0 - 0.08 µg/g

Barium

Optimal range: 0 - 1 µg/g

Beryllium

Optimal range: 0 - 0.02 µg/g

Beryllium ores are used to make speciality ceramics for electrical and high-technology applications, also used in nuclear weapons and reactors, aircraft and space vehicle structures, instruments, x-ray machines, and mirrors.

Beryllium alloys are used in automobiles, computers, sports equipment (golf clubs and bicycle frames), and dental bridges. Lung damage has been observed in people exposed to high levels of beryllium in the air. Beryllium blocks several hepatic enzyme systems. Marcotte and Witschi (l972) suggested that this element binds to chromatin and interferes with DNA synthesis. Preventive measures such as avoiding skin contact with beryllium to prevent sensitization are most important. Careful irrigation and debridement are recommended for wounds.

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Bismuth

Optimal range: 0 - 2 µg/g

Bismuth is found in alloys, catalysts, cosmetics, paints, magnets, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, x-ray contrast media,
and semiconductors. Bismuth is generally non-toxic, although very high levels may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Renal, neurological, and hematological problems have been associated with bismuth toxicity. Hair is not a sensitive
specimen for bismuth toxicity; blood and urine are most commonly used.

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Boron

Optimal range: 0.4 - 3 µg/g

Cadmium

Optimal range: 0 - 0.065 µg/g

Calcium

Optimal range: 200 - 750 µg/g

Chromium

Optimal range: 0.4 - 0.7 µg/g

Cobalt

Optimal range: 0.004 - 0.02 µg/g

Copper

Optimal range: 11 - 30 µg/g

Germanium

Optimal range: 0.03 - 0.04 µg/g

The relationship between the levels of Germanium in hair and other tissues has not been established and there is currently no published documentation linking elevated hair Germanium levels to Germanium toxicity. However, recent observations indicate that hair Germanium levels are increased by supplementation/therapeutic use of Germanium compounds.

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Iodine

Optimal range: 0.25 - 1.8 µg/g

Iron

Optimal range: 7 - 16 µg/g

Lead

Optimal range: 0 - 0.8 µg/g

Lithium

Optimal range: 0.007 - 0.02 µg/g

Magnesium

Optimal range: 35 - 120 µg/g

Manganese

Optimal range: 0.08 - 0.5 µg/g

Manganese (Mn) is an essential element which is involved in the activation of many important enzymes. However, Mn excess is postulated to result in glutathionyl radical formation, reduction of the free glutathione pool, and increased exposure of adrenal catecholamines (e.g. dopamine) to free radical damage.

Hair Manganese (Mn) levels generally reflect actual body stores, and external contamination can influence hair Mn. Since particulate manganese-containing dust is the most common source of Mn toxicity, hair is considered to be an excellent tissue for the assessment of Mn exposure.

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Mercury

Optimal range: 0 - 0.8 µg/g

Hair mercury (Hg) is an excellent indiator of exposure to methylmercury from fish. Mercury is toxic to humans and animals. Individuals vary greatly in sensitivity and tolerance to Hg burden.

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Molybdenum

Optimal range: 0.025 - 0.06 µg/g

Nickel

Optimal range: 0 - 0.2 µg/g

Hair is a reasonable tissue for monitoring accumulated body stores of Nickel (Ni). However, hair is OFTEN contaminated with Ni from hair treatments, dyes, and hair products. There is substantial evidence that Ni is an essential element which is required in extremely low amounts. However, excess Ni has been well established to be nephrotoxic, and carcinogenic. Elevated Ni is often found in individuals who work in the electronic and plating, mining, and steel manufacture industries. A cigarette typically contains from 2 to 6 mcg of Ni; Ni is absorbed more efficiently in the lungs (~35%) than in the gastrointestinal tract (~5%).

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Phosphorus

Optimal range: 150 - 220 µg/g

Platinum

Optimal range: 0 - 0.005 µg/g

Platinum (Pt) is a nonessential element that is sometimes detected in hair. However, the clinical significance of hair Pt has not been well studied. Hair treatments may contribute to artifactual contamination of scalp hair.

Pt is poorly absorbed in the gut but may be absorbed via inhalation. Since it is a relatively rare element, most Pt exposures are of occupational origin.

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Potassium

Optimal range: 9 - 80 µg/g

The level of Potassium (K) in hair does not reflect nutritional status or dietary intake. However, hair K levels may provide clinically relevant information pertaining to adrenal function and/or electrolyte balance

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Rubidium

Optimal range: 0.011 - 0.12 µg/g

Rubidium is a relatively benign element that typically parallels the potassium level. It varies according to levels found in water supplies. 

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Selenium

Optimal range: 0.7 - 1.2 µg/g

Silver

Optimal range: 0 - 0.08 µg/g

Sodium

Optimal range: 20 - 180 µg/g

Strontium

Optimal range: 0.3 - 3.5 µg/g

Sulfur

Optimal range: 44000 - 50000 µg/g

Thallium

Optimal range: 0 - 0.002 µg/g

Thallium (Tl) is a highly toxic element which, like lead and mercury, accumulates in many body tissues. Hair levels reflect chronic accumulation of Tl, but alopecia occurs about two weeks after ACUTE Tl poisoning. Thallium occurs naturally in some minerals, and magmatic and sedimentary rock, consequently in soil, water, and air. Industrially, Tl is used in lenses and prisms, as an alloy with mercury in low temperature thermometers, and in the preparation of high density liquids.

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Thorium

Optimal range: 0 - 0.002 µg/g

Tin

Optimal range: 0 - 0.3 µg/g

Hair Tin (Sn) levels have been found to correlate with environmental exposure. Depending on chemical form, Sn is a potentially toxic element. Inorganic Sn has a low degree of toxicity, while organic Sn has appreciable toxicity. Inorganic Sn is used as flame-proofing treatment in textiles, as a wood preservative, and has various uses in the glass industry. Sn is also used in tin plate electrolysis for Sn alloy coatings.

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Titanium

Optimal range: 0 - 0.6 µg/g

Titanium (Ti) is measured in hair to assist in the identification of external contamination of hair by treatments and products. Shampoos, dyes, and “highlighting” are the primary sources of Ti, which binds tenaciously to hair. Ti dioxide is the most common form of Ti used as a whitening agent (toothpaste, conditioners, shampoos, etc.).

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Uranium

Optimal range: 0 - 0.06 µg/g

Vanadium

Optimal range: 0.018 - 0.065 µg/g

Zinc

Optimal range: 130 - 200 µg/g

A high level of zinc (Zn) in hair may be indicative of low Zn in cells, and functional Zn deficiency. Zn can be displaced from proteins such as intracellular metallothionein by other metals, particularly cadmium, lead, copper, and mercury (Toxicology of Metals, 1994), resulting in paradoxically elevated hair Zn. Zn may also be high in hair as a result of the use of Zn- containing anti-dandruff shampoo. Rough or dry, flaky skin is a symptom of Zn deficiency, so it is not uncommon for Zn deficient patients to use an anti-dandruff shampoo.

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Zirconium

Optimal range: 0.02 - 0.44 µg/g
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