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  • Janelle Hunt

What Our Hair Can Tell Us About Our Nutrition

I’ve recently been nerding out on the importance that minerals play in functional nutrition, as they are the drivers for every task in our body. I was so excited when I found out there was a hair test that I could take to give me some information about my mineral status from the past three months. I have since taken a deeper dive and received training on how to test and interpret one’s mineral status through a lab called HTMA or Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis. Our body processes minerals and lays them down in our tissues, such as our hair follicles. Our hair grows about a ½ an inch a month so by testing a 1 tsp hair sample from the 1 ½ inches of hair closest to our scalp, we are able to look at how our body has been processing and using minerals for the past three months.


By analyzing the individual minerals and mineral ratios found in our hair, we can get a picture of how our body has been coping with stress in the recent past. It can indicate if we’re under an acute stress response or in a burnout state of stress. It gives us clues as to how the various systems in our body are working and possible underlying explanations for such concerns with our mood, hormonal issues, fatigue, gut issues such as bloating, gas and constipation, and recurring symptoms that don’t seem to be changing with other treatment modalities.


Though an HTMA tests many minerals, the key minerals we look at are calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. Here are just a few roles these minerals provide for our body to function efficiently.


Calcium – It’s important for helping our pancreas make insulin, allows our blood to clot, produces muscle contractions, regulates our beating heart, plays a role in bone health, and releases hormones.


Magnesium - It supports systems that help with the use of insulin, sleep, anxiety, muscle relaxation, vitamin D absorption, PMS, constipation, headaches, and irritability.


Sodium – It plays a role in the production of stomach acid to digest our food, contracting and relaxing muscles, balancing water and minerals, and conducting nerve impulses.


Potassium – It’s important for allowing our cells to be more sensitive to thyroid hormones, which influences our energy level, as well as moves nutrients into cells and waste out of our cells.


The HTMA can also indicate excessive exposure to heavy metals. This gives us data on whether our liver is working at full capacity or needs a little TLC. Our liver naturally cleanses our body of heavy metals on a daily basis, so there should be some heavy metals showing up on the HTMA, but excessive amounts can indicate recent over exposure.


After analyzing a client’s HTMA, I can use this information to have a conversation about nutrition and lifestyle changes and possibly supplements that can help replete the body of minerals it may be lacking. It’s one more tool that I now have to take a look at one’s holistic nutrition status.



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