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HMA - Why Hair Mineral Analysis?

By: George M. Tamari, Ph.D.

These are the questions most frequently asked by health care professionals:
    Why should I incorporate hair mineral analysis in my practice?
    What is the difference between hair mineral analysis and blood analysis?
    How frequently should hair analysis be done?

Understanding the reason for doing a hair mineral analysis is very crucial: 

When patients visit an allopathic clinic, certain basic information is requested to establish a baseline of the patient's health situation. In other words, procedures are initiated to investigate any pathological symptoms present. These procedures include history, physical examination, blood and urine analysis, and X-ray or other contrast examination. 

In a health care practice based on a different philosophy than allopathy, the search is for further information leading to the detection of cause(s) of symptoms and treating the cause not treating the symptom! Investigating the intracellular or mitochondrial homeostasis of minerals and trace elements versus the presence and level of toxic metals offers basic but critical information about dynamic of metabolism.

There are a few options available for studying the body's mineral status:
    Blood analysis
    Urine analysis
    Liver biopsy
    Tooth analysis
    Hair mineral analysis

Blood and urine minerals represent extra-cellular levels of minerals. Liver biopsy can provide good information, but it is obviously too invasive. Tooth analysis is a reliable source of information, but it is not readily available for analytical purposes. According to many scientific studies, the analysis of untreated hair tissue is the preferred method of choice for different reasons.

Hair tissue mineral analysis can detect:
    Deficiencies of minerals
    Excesses of minerals
    The presence of toxic element(s)
   Reveal the presence of metabolic disturbances such as Lactic Acid Induced Metabolic Acidosis - LIMA and Nutrition Induced Metabolic Acidosis - NIMA.

In the following paragraphs I will discuss the importance of LIMA and the unique advantage hair tissue mineral analysis (HMA) has for detecting its presence at a very early stage.

LIMA is caused by the production of lactic acid. It is produced when different stress factors, such as direct deficiency of essential mineral(s), or vitamins required for energy production (Kreb's Cycle); or indirect deficiencies from emotional/psychological distress. The end product, instead of the expected CO2 and H2O, will be lactic acid which is the result of fermentation. It is important to note that instead of the expected 100% energy produced by oxidative phosphorylation, energy gained by fermentation provides only 21% from the same calorie intake. This energy deficit has far-reaching consequences in many anabolic and catabolic activities. This energy deficit will especially be expressed as impairment in cognitive and immunological function of the body. Additionally, the deficiencies of vitamin(s) and /or mineral(s) can cause dysfunction in the cellular respiration in different tissues. This can express itself in different pathologies and can be associated not only with mitochondrial cytopathies and neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's, but also aging is accelerated

Increased levels of lactic acid (lactic acidosis) lowers the intracellular pH. In order to neutralize this acidity, calcium (Ca) is drawn from the blood. The blood is well buffered to keep the calcium level between 9-11 mg%. When the blood's Ca level sinks below 9 mg%, the parathyroid gland (PG) is activated to produce parathyroid hormone (PTH). PTH will transfer Ca from bones and teeth to the soft tissues and mitochondria, and stabilize

the blood Ca as a result. If this process continues, it will cause hyperactivity of the PG and more Ca (and later magnesium) will be transferred to the mitochondria. As the blood level of Ca is stabilized very efficiently, blood levels of Ca will not reflect the increased Ca transit from bones and teeth. Only lactic acid analysis of the blood may reveal the reason behind the increased PG activity. This metabolic activity will be reflected in HMA by elevated levels of both calcium and magnesium.

The important and crucial first step is in recognizing LIMA as one of the factors causing the impairment in energy production. In the literature we can find studies on LIMA caused by deficiency of one vitamin eg thiamine, or one mineral eg iron, causing severe symptoms of lactic acidosis; which was corrected after supplementing the missing vitamin or mineral. These examples draw attention to the fact that any disturbance in the Krebs's Cycle (deficiency of nutritional minerals or presence of toxic element(s) causing a deficiency of nutritional minerals) can lead to lactic acidosis.

Symptoms of lactic acidosis are: shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, pain in the gut. At later stages it can lead to generalized loss of energy, hyperventilation, enlarged liver, arrhythmia , and eventually even organ failure.

NIMA, or Nutritionally Induced Metabolic Acidosis, is the result of consuming food producing acid ash. Protein, rich in sulphur and phosphorus (sulphuric and phosphoric acid); soft drinks, rich in phosphoric acid; canned foods, buffered by phosphate buffer all contribute to the production of acidic end products. The body's defence mechanism will react in a similar manner to LIMA by attempting to neutralize the metabolic acidosis by transferring Ca and Mg to the mitochondria. Again, due to the efficient buffering system, blood levels will not reflect the presence of NIMA, but HMA will display elevated levels of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.

The serious metabolic consequence of increased activity of the PG, in both LIMA and NIMA, is accelerated bone loss. If untreated, this will lead to osteoporosis and dental carries. The increased levels of calcium and magnesium deposited in the mitochondria will interfere with the normal function of the cell.

Neutralization of the acidic state of the metabolism is the first step to alleviate the symptom of acidosis, and to correct the underlying origin of the symptom(s). This can be achieved by supplementing calcium and magnesium (citrate form recommended in a 1:2 ratio) and containing vitamin D. Magnesium is antagonistic to calcium and it may help to remove excess calcium from the cells. At the same time, magnesium triggers the thyroid gland to produce calcitonin which assists in the re-deposition of calcium into the skeletal structure. The correction of any deficiencies in vitamins and/or minerals is essential. Absorption and digestive problems have to be dealt with.

In case of NIMA, change in dietary habits is essential. The diet should be rich in vegetables and fruits (alkaline diet), lowering the protein intake, and avoiding soft drinks. Three months, after implementing the dietary/lifestyle changes, a repeat HMA should be done in order to monitor the mineral levels and change the supplementation program accordingly.

No less important than the appropriate nutritional/dietary intervention in the search for and elimination or reduction of stress factors causing or contributing to LIMA. No less important than the appropriate nutritional/dietary intervention in the search for and elimination or reduction of stress factors causing or contributing to LIMA.

Disclaimer: The information found in this site should be used to educate, and not as a basis for diagnosis or treatment. Consult a knowledgeable healthcare professional before applying any of this information.

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