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Nutritional Elements

Minerals are essential to health. They are the building blocks of life. Your body cannot make substances like proteins, hormones, antibodies, digestive juices and acids without them. Each nutritional mineral is essential for health and incorporated into molecules and compounds needed to keep our body functioning. A Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis will test for the following nutritional elements:


Sodium is an electrolyte, regulated mainly by the kidneys. It has a direct influence on potassium balance and is required for adequate adrenal function, along with potassium and lithium. It is involved in the absorption of chloride, amino acids, glucose and water. It also participates in blood pressure maintenance.


Calcium is mainly stored in the bones and teeth. Not only structural, it also acts as a calcium reservoir. Calcium triggers heart muscle contraction, is a cell messenger, influences cell diffusion and differentiation, blood clotting, nerve conduction, skeletal muscle contraction, kidney function (is an important electrolyte) and pancreatic function (insulin is only released when adequate calcium is present).


More than half of the body’s Magnesium is found in bones and the remainder is in the soft tissue (highest is skeletal muscle). It is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. It is a cofactor for more than 300 metabolic reactions. These include DNA and RNA synthesis, cellular metabolism, enzymatic reactions, cell signalling, muscle relaxation, nervous system regulation, cell membrane and chromosome production, memory and blood sugar regulation.


Potassium is an electrolyte, regulated by kidneys and also influenced by the adrenals. It is involved in water balance, muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission and cardiovascular health.


Zinc is an important antioxidant. It is a major catalyst in enzymatic reactions. Over 3000 proteins in humans have zinc binding sites. Zinc is essential for healthy immune function, reproductive function and normal growth and development. It is also a major mineral for hormonal production. It is a major copper antagonist.


Phosphorus is a major component of bone and cell membranes. Importantly, DNA and RNA are phosphate molecules. It is involved in acid/alkali balance regulation, oxygenation of tissue by haemoglobin, bone health and in metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. It is an essential component of energy production and exchange (ATP). It is a key mineral in determining metabolic type.


Copper is an essential nutrient. It is required in regulating gene expression, in energy production, iron metabolism, neurotransmission, melanin formation and in the formation of connective tissue. It is required for a healthy nervous system, bones, joints, skin, blood vessels, mood regulation, and myelin sheath formation. It is also beneficial for some forms of arthritis. Copper has a strong antagonistic effect on zinc.


Iron is important for energy production, DNA synthesis and repair, oxygen transport in blood and muscles, mitochondrial function, fatty acid metabolism, healthy thyroid function and the maintenance of a healthy immune system. Vitamin C greatly improves its absorption in the body.


Manganese is involved in energy production, protein metabolism, bone development, nerve formation and muscle and joint health. It is also involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids, cholesterol and glucose and the production of superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant enzyme. It promotes wound healing, and is needed for the formation of cartilage and collagen.


Chromium is a component of Glucose Tolerance Factor and is involved in glucose metabolism, cholesterol metabolism, and insulin sensitisation. High levels in hair tissue often indicate a requirement for chromium as high levels in the hair can indicate an inability to properly metabolise it.


Selenium is a potent antioxidant. As selenoproteins, it is required for a number of enzymes. These are involved in glutathione peroxidase, thyroid health, liver health and male fertility.


Cobalt is involved in forming amino acids and proteins in nerve cells and neurotransmitter synthesis. It is involved in the synthesis of DNA, the production of red blood cells and nerve function. Cobalt is a component of cyanocobalamin (B12).


Molybdenum is involved in sulphur amino acid metabolism (in particular sulphites), uric acid production and the metabolism of drugs and toxins. It is involved in tooth enamel production and immune system maintenance (particularly allergies). It assists zinc in the detoxification of copper.


Sulphur is a constituent of collagen, bones and teeth. Sulphur is involved in bile acid production, digestion and absorption. Sulphur-bearing amino acids are important in liver detoxification and insulin sensitisation.

Toxic Elements

Toxic Elements do not belong in the body as they have no known biological function. These will impact the absorption, retention, utilization and metabolic function of nutritional elements. These elements are antagonistic to nutritional elements and will displace them.


What is it? Uranium is a common naturally occurring and radioactive substance. It is a normal part of rocks, soil, air and water and it occurs in nature in the form of minerals.

Where is it found? Uranium can be found in the air, in drinking water and is naturally present in nearly all rocks and soils. For most people, food and drinking water are the main sources of uranium exposure. It can be found in potatoes, parsnips, turnips and sweet potatoes. The amount in these foods is directly related to the amount of uranium in the soil in which they are grown. People who work with materials and products that contain uranium may be exposed at work and those who live near uranium mining, processing, and manufacturing facilities could be exposed to more uranium than the general population.

Symptoms are Uranium exposure Uranium’s main target is the kidneys. Kidney damage has been seen in humans and animals after inhaling or ingesting uranium compounds.


What is it? Arsenic is a naturally occurring element. It is usually found in the environment combined with other elements such as oxygen, chlorine and sulfur andis called inorganic arsenic. Arsenic combined with carbon and hydrogen is referred to as organic arsenic.

Where is it found? Arsenic occurs naturally in soil and minerals and may enter theair, water and land from wind-blown dust and may get into water from runoff and leaching. However it is rare to find toxic amounts of arsenic in nature. Seafood is thepredominant dietary source of arsenic, following by rice, mushrooms and poultry. However this is mostly in the form of an inorganic arsenic that is much less harmful and ingestion only poses a problem if a dangerous amount of arsenic enters the body.

Symptoms of arsenic exposure drowsiness, headaches, confusion, severe diarrhea.


What is it? Beryllium is found in the earth’s crust and mostly in igneous (volcanic) rock. Most of the world’s beryllium is mined and extracted in the United States and Russia. Beryllium is also found in gems such as the emerald and aquamarine.

Where it is found? Beryllium is used as an alloying agent in producing beryllium copper, which is extensively used for springs, electrical contacts, spot-welding electrodes, and non-sparking tools. It is used in mobile phones and is applied as a structural material for high speed aircraft, missiles, spacecraft, and communication satellites.

Symptoms of Beryllium exposure Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, joint pain, cough, fever.


What it is? Mercury is a naturally occurring element found in rock in the earth’s crust, including deposits of coal.

Where is it found? Mercury becomes a problem for the environment when it is released from rock and ends up in the atmosphere and in water. This can happen naturally. Human activities, however, are responsible for much of the mercury that is released into the environment. The burning of coal, oil and wood as fuel can cause mercury to become airborne. Once in the air mercury eventually settles into bodies of water or onto land where it can be washed into water. Microorganisms in water can change it into methylmercury, where it builds up in fish and shellfish.

Symptoms of Mercury exposure Mercury may have a toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes. Mercury vapours can cause neurological and behavioral disorders such as tremors, emotional instability, insomnia, memory loss, neuromuscular changes and headaches. It can also harm the kidneys and thyroid.


What it is?
Cadmium is a silver-white metal that is found in the earth’s crust. It is a by-product of mining and processing minerals such as copper, lead and zinc. It has a biological half-life of 10-30 years.

Where is it found?
Cadmium is found in some foods and is emitted by using fossil fuels such as coal and oil, smoking cigarettes, and burning waste. It is used in batteries, plastics, craft glazes, jewellery and metal coatings. It is found in some potatoes, mushrooms, shellfish, kidney meats, grain cereals and vegetables.

Symptoms of Cadmium exposure
Cadmium can cause gastric inflammation, skin damage, loss of smell, memory and attention deficits; and neurogenitive disorders. Breathing high levels of Cadmium can cause coughing, chest pain, throat and nose irritation and may lead to pulmonary fibrosis and renal problems. Eating foods or drinking water with very high cadmium levels may irritate the stomach and cause vomiting and diarrhea. Long-term low exposure can cause fragile bones that break easily, and negatively affect growth. Exposure can cause oxidative stress, alterations in DNA methylation, cell proliferation and differentiation and may lead to cancer. Cadmium antagonises zinc.


What it is? Lead is a naturally occurring metal found in the earth’s crust. It is used in industry and in the past was added to petrol and household paints.

Where is it found? Lead can be found in many places due to human activity through burning fossil fuels, mining and manufacturing. It can still be found in lead-based paint used in older homes, contaminated soil, household dust, drinking water pumped through leaded pipes, lead crystal, lead-glazed pottery, airplane fuel, some old toys, old coins, medals and some inexpensive jewellery.

Symptoms of Lead exposure high blood pressure, joint and muscle pain, difficulties with memory or concentration, headache, abdominal pain, mood disorders, reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm, miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth in pregnant women.


What it is? Although aluminium is the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust, it is never found free in nature. All of the earth’s aluminium has combined with other elements to form compounds. It is bound up as aluminium silicate in clay, minerals, rocks, and gemstones.

Where is it found? Household applications are common in cookware, deodorants (as aluminium salts), medicines such as buffered aspirin, and antacids. Aerospace, aviation, automobiles, construction and the food and beverage industries all make use of aluminium.

Symptoms of Aluminium exposure confusion, muscle weakness, bone pain, deformities and fractures; seizures, speech problems, slow growth in children.


What it is? Antimony is sometimes found in pure form but most antimony occurs inthe form of more than 100 different minerals. The most important of these is stibnite.

Where is it found? Antimony is mainly used to form alloys which are used for castings, bearings, metal sheeting and piping, pewter, solder and lead storage batteries. Antimony oxide is added to plastics and textiles to reduce flammability. It is also used as an enamel for plastics, metals and glass and is added to paints and ceramics.

Symptoms of Antimony exposure can cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and ulcers.

Additional Elements

Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis also tests for 14 additional elements. Research suggests they are involved in digestive function, mood, kidney health, insulin sensitivity, skin health, antibacterial function and the metabolism of other minerals. Although there is less research for these elements, high levels still indicate potential toxicity and may interfere with nutritional elements and so act like toxic elements. And many additional elements are found in the manufacturing industry or in certain trades.


Platinum is used in fine jewellery, surgical tools, electrical wires and other industrial uses. Not many health effects are known from the metal form.


Nickel is found in jewellery, chocolate, fats and cigarettes. Large amounts may be carcinogenic or cause birth defects.


Lithium acts as an electrolyte in the body and in HTMA will often follow sodium and potassium. It is used as a medicine for mood stabilization.


Germanium is used in industrial manufacturing and is found alongside zinc, copper and lead ores. It is mildly stimulatory in the body and has an immune enhancing and antioxidant role. Excess amounts may impact kidney function.


Rubidium has a similarity to potassium and is mildly stimulatory. The best sources of rubidium are raw brazil nuts, bean sprouts, spinach, rhubarb, cashes and asparagus. Rubidium will take the place of potassium in the sodium-potassium pump and is excreted via the urine.


Bismuth is used in industrial manufacturing and is found along with lead, silver, gold and cobalt ores. It is also used in cosmetics and some medications. Excess bismuth can contribute to skin irritations or breathing issues.


Barium is used in industrial manufacturing and in some medical procedures (x-ray of digestive system). It is antagonistic to calcium and has similar properties to lead and cadmium.


Vanadium is naturally found as component of crude oil, coal, shale and tar. It is used in ceramics, electronics, textile dyes, fertilisers, synthetic rubber and welding alloys. It may have insulin and immune enhancing effects. Excess may cause mitrochondrial dysfunction and cellular toxicity. It is antagonistic to chromium, vitamin C, haemoglobin synthesis and sulphur-bearing amino acids.


Major sources of Tin are found in canned foods, environmental pollution, bronze, solders, cosmetics and toothpaste. Tin is used for heavy machinery, musical instruments, pottery glaze, plate glass and dye making; perfume and soap making, plastics (as a stabiliser), pewter and dental fillings. It is antagonistic to iron, calcium, copper, zinc and vitamin E.


Strontium’s physical and chemical properties are similar to calcium and approximately 99% of strontium in the body is found in the bones. It can replace calcium in many processes. Strontium compounds are used in the production of ceramics, pyrotechnics, paint pigments, fluorescent lights and some medicines. Excess in children can interfere with bone growth, particularly if the diet is low in calcium and protein. Strontium exposure can be via air, food, water, soil or dust; and acute, high dose exposure to strontium adversely affects the lungs. Strontium can also exist as radioactive isotopes and exposure to radioactive strontium may cause anaemia, abnormal bleeding and immune problems.


Titanium is usually used as a white pigment in paints, fabrics, inks, sunscreens, lipsticks and toothpastes. It is also used in mobile phones, artificial hips, knees and plates for bone setting; pacemakers and dental implants. Newest research suggests that Titanium oxide nanoparticles may injure the liver and cause gut inflammation. Excess exposure can cause chest tightness and pain, coughing and breathing problems.


Tungsten is used in industrial and medical devices. It is used for cutting and grinding tools, ceramic pigments, fire resistant coatings and fade resistant dyes, x-ray screens, filaments of old light bulbs, mobile phones, metal working, and in the mining and petroleum industries. Research suggests it may be associated with stroke prevalence in younger people and that it accumulates in the soft tissue and bone.


Thallium is a toxic metal that can have serious effects on the brain and nervous system. Thallium exposure can also have psychological effects. It can lead to behavioural changes, mood swings, and cognitive impairments.


Zirconium is present naturally in streambeds and ocean beaches but is not common in food or groundwater. It is found in paints, surgical implants, prosthetics, knives, scissors, golf irons, dental veneers, heat resistant lining for a furnace, cosmetics, antiperspirants, food packaging, costume jewellery and ceramics. Excess zirconium may be an eye, skin or respiratory irritant.