Zinc and Hair Testing

Zinc and Hair Testing

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Zinc is an essential element that is required in many very important biological processes. Zinc however can be toxic if exposure is excessive. It is actually very uncommon to have high hair Zinc, which could indicative a zinc overload. This could come from contaminated water high in zinc through galvanized pipes, welding or gross, chronic over-supplementation in excess of 100 mg/day.

Other sources of Zinc include exposure from the  manufacturing of brass, bronze, white paint, and pesticide production.

The symptoms of zinc excess include:

  • gastrointestinal disorders
  • decreased heme synthesis (copper deficiency)
  • tachycardia,
  • blurred vision
  • hypothermia.

Blood tests for zinc status can be used and include whole blood or packed red blood cell elements analysis, urine amino acid analysis, and serum ceruloplasmin, which will be low with a zinc induced copper deficiency.

Research has shown that zinc and hair testing levels are found to be low in the plasma and hair of zinc-deficient adolescent males. This results in retarded growth and delayed sexual maturation. It was reported that these conditions responded well to zinc supplementation.

Zinc Markers In Hair Testing

  • A result of high hair Zinc (Zn) may be indicative of low zinc in cells, and functional zinc deficiency.
  • Zinc can be displaced from proteins such as intracellular metallothionein or by other metals including cadmium, lead, copper, and mercury.
  • This results in elevated hair Zinc.
  • Zinc may also be high in hair as a result of the use of zinc containing anti-dandruff shampoo. Rough or dry, flaky skin is a symptom of zinc deficiency. Zinc deficient clients may want to use an anti-dandruff shampoo.
  • Zinc that is high in a hair test requires further testing to assess true tissue levels of zinc status.