A result of high hair Zinc (Zn) may be indicative of low Zinc in cells, and functional Zinc insufficiency, or excessive Zinc supplementation. Zinc 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 Zinc. Zinc may also be high in hair as a result of the use of Zinc-containing anti-dandruff shampoo. Rough or dry, flaky skin is a symptom of Zinc deficiency, so it is not uncommon for Zinc deficient patients to use an anti-dandruff shampoo. A result of high hair Zinc warrants further testing to assess Zinc status. Confirmatory tests for Zinc status are whole blood or packed red blood cell elements analysis.
Zinc is an essential element that is required in many very important biological processes. However, Zinc can be toxic if exposure is excessive. Although very uncommon, high hair Zinc might be indicative of Zinc overload which could result from Zinc contaminated water (galvanized pipes), welding or gross, chronic over-supplementation (100 mg/day). Other sources of Zinc include: manufacture of brass, bronze, white paint, and pesticide production. Symptoms of Zinc excess include: gastrointestinal disorders, decreased heme synthesis (copper deficiency), tachycardia, blurred vision, and hypothermia.
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