Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis

A hair tissue mineral analysis is a screening test that measures the levels of twenty-one minerals and toxic metals present in a sample of hair. Minerals are the “spark plugs” of life and play many important health related roles within the human body. Providing a “window into the cells”, hair makes an excellent biopsy material and reveals a clear record of mineral metabolism. Hair, like all other body tissues, contains minerals that are deposited as the hair grows. Although the hair is dead, the minerals remain as the hair continues to grow. The minerals and toxic metals are locked inside the hair during the growth stage as the body uses it for the storage and elimination of minerals.

A hair tissue mineral analysis reflects long term metabolic activity as it measures an average of mineral accumulation over a three month period of time. This is often an advantage as the test results are not influenced by day-to-day variations in the body chemistry due to stress, diet or other factors. Creating a blueprint of one’s individual stress, blood sugar and carbohydrate imbalances, metabolic rate, biochemical energy production, and glandular imbalances. Hair tissue mineral analysis is used worldwide to measure environmental contamination with toxic metals in the soil, plants and human and animal populations.

Screening tests (like all tests) do have limitations and ideally should be used in conjunction with other laboratory tests, medical histories and physical examinations. This test is provided to assist the health care professional in identifying nutritional and toxic elements that play a role in human health. The contents of this analysis are not intended to be diagnostic.

Electrolytes patterns
Calcium is mainly found in the bones and teeth, but is also required for the nervous system and for muscle contraction and relaxation. It is a primary extra-cellular element.

Magnesium is required for the bones and nervous system. It is also essential for over 600 vital enzymatic reactions in the body. It is a primary intra-cellular element.

Sodium is an essential mineral for maintaining water balance and blood pressure in the body and is a primary extra-cellular element. Low sodium may point to an adrenal dysfunction and may contribute to fatigue and low blood sugar. Low sodium does not necessarily mean that a person is consuming too little salt.

Potassium is a primary intra-cellular element required for fluid balance, nerve activity and muscle activity. Low potassium on a hair analysis could mean adrenal weakness, and may contribute to fatigue and low blood sugar.

Nutrient Mineral Patterns
Iron is required for energy production, blood formation and antioxidant formation (catalase). An excess of iron or toxicity may also occur and contribute to liver and artery disease, dementia and behavioral difficulties. Low iron on a hair analysis is often associated with fatigue.

Copper is required for connective tissue health, women’s fertility, cardiovascular health, blood formation, energy, production, neurotransmitter activity and the immune system. High copper may contribute to fatigue, joint pain, headaches and skin problems. It may also be a contributing factor in anemia, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, insomnia and PMS.

Manganese is required for sugar metabolism, tendon and ligament function, energy production, and thyroid activity. Low manganese may be caused by consuming processed foods and white sugar.

Zinc is required for over 50 functions including all protein synthesis, vision, digestion, prostate health, skin, hair and nail health, and immune system activity. Low zinc levels may be associated with mood swings, digestive disturbances, skin problems, vision problems, prostate problems, and a reduced sense of taste and smell. It may also help to balance sodium/potassium ratio.

Chromium is required for sugar and carbohydrate tolerance and cholesterol metabolism. Low levels may be associated with blood sugar imbalances, cravings for sweets or starches, fatigue, elevated cholesterol, hypoglycemia or diabetes.

Selenium is required as an anti-oxidant nutrient to convert T4 to T3 and for detoxification of heavy metals and toxic chemicals. Low selenium level may contribute to impaired detoxification and thyroid gland activity.

Phosphorus is an essential mineral that is involved in protein synthesis and energy production within the cells. All proteins contain phosphorus and thus are a significant source of organic phosphorus. The hair tissue mineral level of phosphorus is often associated with the adequacy of protein synthesis in the body. This depends on the diet, lifestyle, condition of the intestinal tract and liver and the levels of other nutritional minerals such as zinc and copper. Improper eating habits that interfere with digestion may also contribute to low phosphorus levels.

Toxic Metals and Chemicals
The presence of toxic metals and chemicals can potentially present a serious health hazard. A serious problem today is that a large number of babies are born high in toxic metals due to toxicity in the mothers. A review of over 400 medical studies by the US Environmental Protection Agency revealed that hair tissue mineral analysis is a meaningful test to detect toxic metals.

Toxic metals can cause hundreds of symptoms and contribute to many serious health conditions. There are no safe levels of toxic metals and reducing the presence of toxic metals is a primary goal of your nutritional balancing program.

Magnesium - a critical nutrient

"Magnesium is a critical co-factor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the human body, and many are tied to energy production."

Taken from Tuesday Minute, Joe Buishas, LDN, CCN

Magnesium Utilization

  • Buffers excess acid

  • Acts as an antioxidant inside the cell

  • Protects DNA & intracellular proteins

  • Is a direct chelator for lead

  • Indirectly protects us from mercury, aluminum & other toxins like fluoride

  • Controls glutamate receptors in the heart

Contributing Factors In Magnesium Deficiency

  • Reduced dietary levels

  • Ratio of calcium to magnesium

  • Stress hormone

Magnesium is a critical co-factor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the human body. Many of them are tied to energy production. Deficiencies in magnesium ultimately yield lower energy states, which means cells can't maintain homeostasis, which means they are more susceptible to environmental toxins and infections, which causes free radicals to increase.

Free radicals "inside the cells" damage DNA and mitochondria which further reduce energy production and healthy cell replication. The average American diet creates a relative acidic chemistry. Excess acids can also cause free radicals. Magnesium helps buffer excess acid as it is a key alkalizing mineral. Also, if we are deficient in magnesium, this lowered energy state can cause the nervous system to be compromised which means muscles can't fire properly and spasms can occur anywhere but especially in the heart and vascular tissue. Magnesium acts as an antioxidant inside the cell and protects DNA and intracellular proteins. Although magnesium is a direct chelator for the heavy metal lead, it indirectly protects us from mercury, aluminum and many other toxins like fluoride.

Another one of magnesiums' principle jobs is to control glutamate receptors in the heart called NMDA receptors. When magnesium in the heart is low, the receptors become oversensitive. As a result, a minor stress becomes a major event. Animal studies have shown that as a magnesium deficiency gets worse, the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interlukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor -alpha increase. Over 95% of magnesium is in the cell, so lowered magnesium levels translate into increased levels of inflammation in the cell.

Three major factors are pushing magnesium levels toward deficiency: Reduced dietary levels, one study by the National Institute of Health showed 68% of the American population was depleted in magnesium, while other experts put the number closer to 80%.

Then comes the next factor, the ratio of calcium to magnesium. One way to reduce a mineral is to increase another mineral that competes with it. For example, if we want reduce copper, we use zinc. The National Institute of Health now recommends that the optimum calcium intake be further increased to 1500 mg/day to prevent osteoporosis.

This recommendation disregards the already substandard American magnesium intake, which is less than 300 mg/day. That would bring the Ca/Mg ratio to 5/1 - which is above the 4/1 ratio of Finland. Finland has the highest ischemic heart disease death rate for young to middle-aged men. Speaking of osteoporosis, bone loss is accelerated in the face of magnesium deficiency. The presence of magnesium spares calcium from osteoclastic activity. So, excess calcium in magnesium deficient patients, will further exacerbate the deficiency.

The third factor is the amount of stress that we experience. Dr. Mildred Seelig, formerly one of the world's authorities on magnesium, stated that stress, both physical and emotional, evokes release of the stress hormones catecholamines and corticosteroids. Stress hormones mediate the release and utilization of substrates for greater energy production and for improved skeletal and cardiac muscle performance. However, their excesses cause magnesium loss and inactivation and can be implicated in cardiovascular disorders.

True prevention is really about making the cell as healthy as possible which will allow it to utilize its own defense mechanisms. So although we need magnesium, we want to make sure we have a balance of the other nutrients necessary for energy production. That's why we always recommend a multivitamin/mineral and a mixture of EFAs.

Feel free to stop in or call with questions on supplenting with magnesium. We do have magnesium and calcium together in a supplement and several multi vitamins if you are in need of them.