22 January 2010

What's wrong with hair zinc analysis?

Hair used for nutritional status of a mineral can be flawed because of exogenous contamination--from water, dust, cosmetics, shampoos, etc--and because of endogenous, nonnutritional factors such as hair growth rate, color, sex, pregnancy and age.

However, I do find it quite interesting that hair analysis could indicate a history of nutrition. Historical measurements would be otherwise difficult to get, but hair grows lsowly and so hair can reflect levels of zinc and other elements over time. Plus, it's an easy test since hair is easy to get.

Better non-invasive indicators of zinc deficiency are Bryce-Smith taste and sweat analysis. Loss of taste is one of the first symptoms of a deficiency because zinc is needed for an enzyme, gustin, present in saliva that modulates sense of taste. And sweat analysis may be even more sensitive as an index than blood biomarkers.

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