The hair mineral analysis (HTMA) considers different categories of minerals:
- Essentials (possible deficiencies and excesses)
- Non-essential (possible excess, but no deficiencies)
- Toxic (often called “heavy metals” – any amount in the body is potentially harmful)
Many people say that this is the only reliable test, others claim that no… There is controversy, and I wanted to see for myself.
Nothing is more simple: I went to the website of the German lab MicroTrace (to which I had sent my provocation test). I went in the hair analysis category, printed the form, filled it… so far, easy peasy.
For the samples to provide, there are 3 possibilities:
- classical hair samples (no recent treatment)
- nail samples
- pubic hair samples
All the details are explained for cutting the samples, and you can also find videos on the internet if you have any doubt.
You finally send everything by mail and you pay with the means of our choice, it’s great, it’s fast, and it costs… 111,27 €! Wow, not cheap!
(There are probably cheaper tests but I chose this lab for the quality of its analyzes)
Here are the results. We should be kept in mind that these values don’t reveal the levels present in the blood or in the organs. These results indicate what the body evacuates through the hair. And only that! But this information can be valuable if we know how to read it.
So I have several levels of essential minerals that are quite low (2 deficiencies), and a magnesium level that raises the roof!
The Micro Trace laboratory doesn’t test sodium and potassium because they consider these values unreliable.
Indeed, after analysis, they realized that the washing of the hair altered their concentration of sodium and potassium, making their values irrelevant.
But why does the lab wash the hair? Because the environment, the pollution, but also the conditioners, the shampoo, the gels, the spray… or even simply the sweat, will envelop your hair with minerals, thus disrupting the results! The lab washes the hair so that the analyzed values only rely on the minerals contained inside the hair. Hence the importance of the quality of the wash.
Some labs don’t wash. Here again, there may be a controversy.
We did the test together, on the same date, knowing that we have lived together for 2 years and a half now, and that we eat relatively the same (a few variations because sometimes I can have a quite “experimental” diet).
The results are impressive: the vast majority of the values are very similar!
This resemblance is probably not a coincidence: we shared the same environment and the same food (with a few differences) for 2 years and a half. And before that, we lived in different countries! (she lived in the Netherlands and me in France). I’m therefore tempted to conclude that what the body evacuates with the hair doesn’t reflect the total accumulation of metals in the body but rather a relatively recent exposure. (Which is confirmed when comparing with my provocation test, but I keep this analysis for another article).
Below the given results, the lab adds a few comments (in English) for each value that would be too low or too high.
Cobalt is part of the Vitamin B12 molecule and is necessary for Vitamin B12 activity and function. Cobalt, which is mainly stored in the liver, activates numerous enzymes, and is excreted in bile. A low dietary intake inhibits fetal development and
may reflect a low intake of Vitamin B12.
SOURCES: All animal products, including all meats, fish, cheese, brewer’s yeast and yeast extracts. Strict vegetarians (vegans) and those who lack intrinsic factor risk vitamin B12 and cobalt deficiency.
SYMPTOMS: Include pernicious anemia.
THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: Increase vitamin B12 intake and/or consumption of cobalt-rich foods.
There is no recommended intake of cobalt, however vitamin B12 contains cobalt and increasing the Vitamin B12 intake can improve the cobalt status. Check with your physician. Vitamin B12-rich foods are meat, liver and cheese.
Magnesium is an essential element with both electrolyte and enzyme-activator functions. High hair tissue levels reflect early bone withdrawal and maldistribution into tissue such as hair. In most cases, high hair levels are signs of a masked deficiency
and can be confirmed with deficiency symptoms such as weakness, confusion, personality changes, muscle tremor and spastic tendencies during mild exercise, bizarre muscle movements, especially in the face, swollen gums, skin lesions, lack of coordination and digestive disorders.
GOOD FOOD SOURCES: All fruit and dark green vegetables, nuts, legumes, wholegrain cereals and breads.
THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: B-Vitamins aid magnesium absorption.
To evaluate extend of exposure, check blood and/or urine levels, and kidney function.
High magnesium levels of hair rarely correlate with blood levels, but may indicate a masked deficiency and an increased need for magnesium. Chemical hair treatment causes falsely elevated hair magnesium values.
Molybdenum deficiency has been linked to gout. Low levels in heavy meat eaters reflect digestive disorder, the need for digestive enzymes and dietary changes. Such patients should avoid pork, beef, whole grain and rather eat poultry, fish and other light proteins. Vegetarians should either add some meat to their diet or take molybdenum chelate with B-vitamins, which aid the absorption of molybdenum. Dietary molybdenum is readily absorbed by the intestine and is excreted in the urine and bile.
SOURCES: Whole grains, legumes, leafy vegetables and organ meats. The recommended daily intake is 0.15 – 0.5 mg/day, depending on age and status. Acute deficiency symptoms are unknown in humans. Excess intake of copper, zinc, and sulfates can depress Mo-update, causing disturbances in the uric acid cycle. Low molybdenum levels have been associated with impotency, increased cancer susceptibility, gout, dental caries, defects in the metabolism of sulfur-containing amino acids, and asthma.
Molybdenum deficiency is extremely rare and low hair values generally signify a chronically low dietary intake, which can be improved by increasing the intake of molybdenum-rich foods such as beans and other legumes, whole grains and leafy vegetables. The daily requirement for people 14 to 18 years: 43mcg, 19+ years: 45mcg. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding: 50mcg. B-vitamins improve the molybdenum absorption. Check copper and iron status. High copper and/or iron intake can decrease molybdenum absorption.
Many forums and Facebook groups advocate the use of the “Counting rule” from Andrew Cutler.
The principle of this rule is quite simple: if you are intoxicated with mercury, then there is a good chance that your mineral levels will be very disturbed. Apparently, only mercury can have this effect (I haven’t found the scientific proof of it). There is then a counting rule to apply to your results and which enables you to know if your levels are very disturbed or not, which consequently suggests a mercury intoxication or not.
To do this, your results must have the special format “Doctor’s data” (practiced mainly by American labs), for which this counting rule is provided. Interestingly enough, these results seem to include sodium and potassium, which made me wonder…
I cannot apply this rule, but I can live without, especially since my provocation test did not reveal mercury poisoning.
I think there is a lot to interpret and this article is already long. I’ll keep the different topics for more detailed articles! Anyway, I’m happy I did this test because I now have additional data (both hair and provocation) which I can investigate. It’s always better than shooting in the dark!
If my results inspire you some comments, don’t hesitate, the comments section just below is made for that!