Hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA) is a test that measures the mineral content of hair. The mineral content includes both nutritional minerals as well as toxic heavy metals.

Hair is a perfect tissue to assess nutritional balance and toxic metals for several reasons. Taking a sample is non-invasive and easily collected.

All of the nutritional and toxic elements accumulate in the hair. And, unlike other tissue analysis, it shows retention of elements over a longer period of time.

Testing metals in the urine just measures the minerals that are being excreted. Not necessarily what is being absorbed.

And blood tests only accurately report what is being transported in your blood at the time of the test. For example, if the test is taken just after a banana was eaten, it can indicate a high potassium level, even though there is an overall deficiency of this mineral. Also, about a month following an acute exposure of lead, elevated serum levels of this metal may be undetectable due to the body removing the lead from the serum as a protective measure and depositing it into such tissues as the liver, bones, and hair. And finally, a blood test might indicate sufficient calcium levels in the blood even though calcium levels in the bones are so depleted that severe osteoporosis can develop. This is because the body constantly tries to create a balanced environment by compensating for a mineral deficiency in one area by "stealing" it from another.

 So urine and blood tests are like snapshots whereas a hair analysis gives the whole story. Both the nutritional status and how efficiently the body is working can be assessed with this test.

Discovering what the body needs and when it needs it is a valuable tool in creating health. The Hair Analysis Report helps to determine these needs and develop an individualized nutritional program.

A general supplement regimen does not work for everyone. What serves as good nutrition for one person may not be good for the other. Also, certain vitamins and minerals might negate the beneficial effects of others. For example, too much zinc may cause an imbalance in vitamin D. Too little D may cause poor calcium absorption and too much D can cause a deficiency in magnesium. Too much vitamin C may result in a copper deficiency, which in turn could cause a build- up of iron. And too much iron may play a role in arthritis, high blood pressure, and headaches. So sometimes too much of a nutrient can be just as bad as too little. The wrong type of nutrients or the incorrect amount could result in an overall biochemical imbalance.

It is important to test for minerals since trace minerals play an important role in countless metabolic functions.
  • Magnesium is required for muscle relaxation as well as protein and fat synthesis. Signs of deficiencies include weakness, heart irregularities, muscle cramps, fatigue, insomnia and anxiety.
  • The electrolytes potassium and sodium help with the transportation of nutrients into the cell and play important roles in nerve transmissions and muscle contractions.
  • Selenium works as a vital antioxidant and may help reduce heavy metal toxicity. It also may help decrease the risk of cancer by supporting DNA repair. 
  • Boron is considered important for healthy joints and bones. It also may help the body absorb calcium and protect against calcium loss.
  • Zinc is critical to immune function and helps with many hormone activities including the storage and secretion of insulin. A deficiency may result in skin changes, hair loss, slow wound healing, acne, reduced appetite, and recurrent infections.
  • Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body and plays an important role in the structure of every cell in the body. A deficiency may cause fragile bones, joint stiffness, and weakness

Both mineral and vitamin requirements can be determined from the mineral test because of the interaction between the two. Minerals activate enzymes and vitamins are synergistic to minerals as coenzymes. It is very rare that a mineral disturbance develops without a disturbance in the synergistic vitamin(s). It is also uncommon for a disturbance in the utilization of a vitamin to occur without affecting a synergistic mineral(s). For example, boron and iron influence the use of vitamin B12, vitamin B2 affects calcium and magnesium balance, vitamin B1 improves sodium retention,  and vitamin A enhances the utilization of zinc. Therefore, evaluating mineral status provides good clues of vitamin status and requirements. Continuous research at Trace Elements recognizes many synergistic and antagonistic interrelationships between minerals and vitamins.

Many factors can cause a mineral imbalance including:

       A diet consisting of refined, processed foods filled with additives or foods grown in nutrient-poor soil.

       Physical, emotional, or hidden physiological stress.

       Prescription and over-the-counter medications including diuretics, antacids, and aspirin.

       Toxic metals from pollutants including cadmium in cigarette smoke, lead in hair dyes, aluminum
       in antiperspirants, mercury from dental amalgams, and copper and aluminum from cookware.

       Incorrect or improper amounts of nutritional supplements.

       A genetic predisposition toward certain mineral imbalances, deficiencies and excesses.

Trace Elements, Inc. is an independent testing laboratory that specializes in hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA). Since its inception in 1984, the company has served thousands of health professionals of all specialties in over 46 countries. 
The laboratory instruments and equipment are state-of-the-art in industry, and rigorous, comprehensive quality control and quality assurance programs are maintained, ensuring continuous compliance with CLIA guidelines for overall good laboratory practices.

 By maintaining an emphasis on a wholistic approach to health-care treatment, Trace Elements is unique in recognizing the adverse impact of both over-nutrition as well as under-nutrition. They recognize the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic responses to metababolic dysfunctions and stress the importance of optimum nutrition with a metabolic balancing approach.

Hair tissue mineral analysis is supported by a large body of literature in a variety of respected national and international scientific publications. Each year, federally licensed clinical laboratories perform over 150,000 hair mineral assays for health care professionals in the United States.

                                                      Sample HTMA Reports

Information on this web-page is retrieved from
 Trace Elements, Inc.. Commonly Asked Questions about Hair Mineral Analysis.

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