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Why you need to get your minerals tested...

“You can trace every sickness, every disease and every ailment to a mineral deficiency.” - Dr Linus Pauling

The HTMA (Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis) test is a great tool for assessing your mineral levels and balances. It tests more than 35 essential minerals, as well as toxic heavy metals, and over 25 important mineral ratios.

After oxygen and water, minerals which are essential for human life: calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium, plus trace minerals, such as copper, iron, selenium, and chromium to name a few (minerals needed on smaller amounts). Each mineral works synergistically together and antagonistically (and interact with other vitamins) for the proper functioning of cells, tissues, and organs.

Blood testings can be useful, but they tell us what is going on in the blood, not the cells, and in that moment in time. Hence, blood tests are not always accurate for all minerals. It is a useful measure for iron as iron as about 70% of the body's iron is found in the red blood cells of your blood. Plus, blood levels are kept very tightly regulated; when certain minerals get too high, they get excreted through urine or sweat or stool, or if it is too low, the body retains it further, so our body compensates in various ways. In contrast, the HTMA test gives us insights over the past 3 months! Looking at what's been happening in your body over 90 days is much more valuable and insightful.

Before hair grows out of the scalp, the hair is exposed to various fluids like blood, lymph, and intracellular fluids. During this time, it absorbs elements present in its environment, especially minerals and toxins. As the hair shaft hardens, these elements become trapped inside it, forming a record of the body's internal metabolic environment. By analysing the composition of the hair, we can gain insights into energy levels and stress patterns within the body over the past 3 months. While it cannot diagnose specific conditions, hair analysis can indicate potential pathways towards a disease state. It helps individuals understand their symptoms and provides a holistic approach to addressing deficiencies and toxicities.

HTMA when properly interpreted, can also shed light on the relationship between minerals and vitamins. Minerals and vitamins are interdependent, and minerals are necessary for the production and functioning of vitamins. Therefore, an imbalance in minerals can potentially lead to an imbalance in associated vitamins, either through synergistic (enhancing each other’s functions) or antagonistic (push each other out of balance and/or impair absorption) interactions. This is where the HTMA comes in really handy - it can assess for potential vitamin AND hormonal imbalances by considering their connection with minerals, providing a comprehensive understanding of the body's nutrient status.

Minerals are complex but we don’t need to know every single intricacy to support our minerals. In fact, we can make immense progress with our health by just knowing their basic functions, why we need them, why they matter, and how best to support them through nutrition, lifestyle changes, and targeted supplements.

So, why do minerals matter so much for our health and hormonal balance?

Minerals have many functions; one of their main functions is that they act as co-factors of enzymes (proteins that facilitate biochemical reactions in the body). We have enzymes that carry out all reactions in the body, such as magnesium is used for an enzyme called ATPase, which has a critical role in energy metabolism within cells. Another example is potassium, for its vital role in insulin release and action, and aiding glucose uptake by cells, hence good blood sugar balance.

We need these minerals to turn on the specific enzymes to enable the bodily processes. If we don’t have enough, the processes slow down or falter. Initially, the body will try its best to compensate for the lack of mineral(s) which overtime may result in period pain, acne, hair thinning, gut issues, fatigue, or other nagging symptoms that get worse and/or don’t alleviate.

Eventually your body will continue to decline. Hence, these symptoms have been building up over a very long time because the body has been compensating and trying to make things work with whatever raw materials it has. It might be long periods of poor nutrition, you might be going through a difficult time at work or in your relationships, moving homes, or feeling depleted after a difficult pregnancy - whatever it is, the deficiencies and compensation will eventually catch up to you. A simple way to mitigate that stress and to increase stress resilience is to support minerals. The body can only compensate for so long and your symptoms are your body asking for help!

It is easy to focus too much on the symptoms themselves and missing the bigger picture. Or jump straight to hormone testing, thyroid testing and/or gut testing (which are incredibly useful and have their place), but perhaps we are skipping a step by overlooking minerals first and a huge part of the root cause of our health issues.

For example, debilitating PMS symptoms are often due to oestrogen dominance and low progesterone. We can take certain herbs to lower oestrogen and supplement with a bio-identical progesterone, but it doesn’t truly address why these things are happening in the first place. What might have caused oestrogen levels to be high and accumulate? Why is progesterone on the lower end?

Taking a few steps back to look at the bigger picture is the most ideal way to achieve long-term health. Assessing minerals and heavy metals, if any minerals out of balance, and looking at ratios through doing a HTMA test, is foundational for health. Essentially, mineral testing tells us WHY such hormones are high or low. It also gives us insight into thyroid function, blood sugar balance, ovulation, gut health, liver detoxification, and much more, i.e., beyond just a few herbs or supplements to lower oestrogen or boost progesterone.

Ultimately, it is important to remember: the body will compensate (which eventually becomes a stressor in itself). If we don’t have enough minerals, some minerals can be taken from teeth and bones, or tissues. As mentioned earlier, any excess can get stored, for example zinc is stored in various tissues throughout the body, with the highest concentrations found in the muscles, bones, prostate gland, and skin. The liver also acts as a storage site for zinc. These storage reserves help maintain zinc levels in the body during periods of inadequate dietary intake.

Zinc deficiency can show up as cognitive and mood disturbances (including difficulties with learning, memory and attention, and increased irritability or depression), eye and vision problems (impaired night vision, poor adaption to changes in light), hair loss or thinning or brittleness, decreased sense of taste, skin problems (dry skin, dermatitis), delayed growth and development in early childhood (including delayed sexual maturation and impaired bone development) and impaired immunity.

If you're thinking about getting some basic support and insight into your health, the HTMA is the best way to get started. Sometimes we might need further testing, such as looking at hormones through the DUTCH test or assessing the gut microbiome through stool testing, or genetic markers with a methylation report. But having a HTMA test and understanding a person’s mineral balance and status provides an excellent starting point.

How is the sample taken?

Hair mineral testing is easy and painless. A sample of hair of around 100mg / 1 heaped teaspoon and that is 1.5 inches long, is cut from the back middle or bottom of the head, close to the scalp. Once the sample is posted out, results are sent within a week. Watch here.

What to be mindful of before doing a HTMA test?

Here are some tips to be mindful of before doing a HTMA test to receive accurate results:

  • Hair colouring: you have to wait 8 weeks; don’t cut it from a part that is coloured.

  • Avoid medicated shampoo and/or conditioners - may contain zinc or selenium to combat dandruff.

  • If you are someone that takes magnesium salt / Epsom salt baths regularly, avoid hair getting wet in the water.

  • Wash hair with distilled or filtered water for best results.

How often should you do a HTMA test?

It depends. Most people can do mineral testing once a year, or even once every 2 years. If you are someone that is dealing with a chronic condition, such as endometriosis, PCOS, IBS, or hypothyroidism, you will benefit from testing every 6-8 months as these are undoubtedly rooted in mineral deficiency states.

If you are looking to conceive and want to improve your health before getting pregnant, mineral testing 6-9 months before trying to conceive is ideal.

Book a HTMA consultation with me (COMING SOON).

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