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.
AntimonyOptimal 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.
BerylliumOptimal 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.LEARN MORE
BismuthOptimal 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.
MercuryOptimal 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.LEARN MORE
PotassiumOptimal 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 balanceLEARN MORE
RubidiumOptimal 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.LEARN MORE