Sunday, 6 January 2013

Seeing secrets held by hair

If you watch crime shows on television, such as CSI or Forensic Files, you know that your hair can reveal a lot about your body. Hair analysis is the Environmental Protection Agency’s test of choice for determining exposure to toxic metals and levels of trace minerals because the mineral content in your hair accurately reflects the amount of that mineral in your entire body.

These days, hair is regularly tested to determine levels of minerals, metals, and other substances, including vitamins and even poisons. Most chiropractors and homeopathic physicians offer hair testing or other similar tests, and more conventional doctors are discovering the benefits of hair testing. If your doctor doesn’t do this type of testing, he or she should be able to recommend a lab or clinic that does. Hair analysis can differ from lab to lab, raising questions about the accuracy of the results. If you choose to have your hair tested to determine whether you need supplements, and if so, which ones, be sure to have the test done by a reputable lab.

Several body functions can be affected by heavy metals and minerals, including hormone function, blood sugar control, and other metabolic pathways. Common metals that can interfere with metabolism, vitamin and mineral balances, and organ function at high levels include the following:

✓ Lead:

High levels of lead can cause severe problems with nerve function, reproduction, and kidney function. Lead poisoning once was fairly common because of the prevalence of lead in paint, although that’s less of a concern today. Still, lead levels need to be monitored and considered in health evaluations. Furthermore, levels that were once considered safe are now often associated with symptoms of lead poisoning.

✓ Mercury:

Mercury can accumulate in your body and cause problems with your liver, gastrointestinal tract, and central nervous system. The most common way to ingest potentially harmful levels of mercury is through eating fish from mercury-contaminated waters.

✓ Aluminum: 

Dietary aluminum is very common, but mostly in such small quantities that it’s irrelevant. However, people who have kidney disease or other conditions that prevent their bodies from excreting aluminum can accumulate high levels of this metal and develop symptoms. Some
of these symptoms mimic those of Alzheimer’s disease, such as memory loss and mental confusion. Some urban water supplies have higher amounts of aluminum; check with your local water company to see whether your water has high aluminum levels. Aluminum is also a common addition to antacids, so you should take them sparingly.

✓ Cadmium:

This metal is mostly found in industrial work areas. It is highly toxic and has led to disease and death in welders. Some paints also contain cadmium. Hair analysis is a good option, even if you’re feeling fine. If you discover imbalances in your nutrient levels before you have symptoms, you can adjust your diet (and perhaps use — or stop using — supplements) to correct them.

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