Hair is essentially an excretory tissue rather than a functional tissue. Therefore, hair analysis provides important data that can be used in conjunction with symptoms and other laboratory values. It is an inexpensive and valuable screen for physiological excess, deficiency or maldistribution of elements. As protein is synthesised in the hair follicle, elements are permanently incorporated into the hair and represent a temporal record of element metabolism and toxic exposure. The levels of nutritional elements such as magnesium, zinc, copper, selenium and chromium correlate with levels in organs and other tissues whereas toxic elements may be 200-300 times more highly concentrated in hair than in blood and urine. Hair is generally the tissue of choice for detection of recent exposure to toxic elements such as arsenic, aluminium, cadmium, lead, antimony and mercury. This test may be useful for assessing toxic element exposure, excessive fish consumption, alopecia, depression, fatigue, malabsorption, hypertension, impaired glucose tolerance, kidney function, impotence, reduced testosterone, vision problems and Parkinson’s like symptoms.
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