Five ways to measure your stress level with a hair analysis
A hair mineral analysis (HMA) is a screening test that measures the levels of twenty-one minerals and toxic metals present in a sample of hair. When it comes to stress assessment and then guiding the process to recovery this test is crucial. To really understand why this test is so critical to the process we need to go a little deeper into understanding how stress affects us.
Physical, emotional, and chemical stresses are the negative driving factors of chronic degenerative disease.
If you can measure or see a change in your body, then your chemistry has changed from normal to abnormal.
The chemistry changes we are going to look at and measure are magnesium, zinc, sodium and iron.
Magnesium is lost through the sweat and urine and this is increased by alcohol and coffee. Most importantly when you are under stress, you stress hormones like cortisol and adrenalin deplete magnesium.
Zinc is another heavy hitter when it comes to stress management. A hair mineral analysis is one of the better ways to assess this notoriously difficult to measure mineral. It helps with stress in several synergistic ways. Prolonged stress is well established factor that depletes zinc levels in the body. It has also been demonstrated that zinc deficiency increases plasma cortisol and some pro-inflammatory markers.
Sodium is known as the great solvent. A general example is adding salt to your swimming pool to try and avoid calcium from precipitating. It keeps calcium in solution. When sodium is low on a hair analysis you will often see calcium levels in the tissue being very high. Conversely, when under the acute stage of stress we see high levels of Na in the tissue and low levels of calcium (and magnesium). High sodium is a very clear indicator of acute stress.
Iron and Selenium
In this study plasma zinc, iron, copper, and selenium and selected blood proteins were measured in 66 men during a 5 day period of sustained physical and psychological stress called Hell Week. Here are the relevant results.
Iron decreased by 44%
Selenium by 12%
Zinc by 33%
When you perform a hair analysis test you take the 3cm of hair closest to the scalp. This represents three months of stress. Each cm is representative of one month of growth. This is good news for assessing chronic stress as we need an average over TIME. A blood test tells you what is happening now. A hair mineral test shows you what is happening over time.
Both are valuable. They are just telling you different things and this is why a blood test will often be normal but a hair analysis will show you the bigger picture.
We have been using hair analysis testing for over 10 years. A test can be purchased at Lifestyle Integration and it is all done online. No in person meetings are required so no matter where you live you can benefit from this unique form of assessment.
Want to know more or have some questions? Reach out!
Yours in Health,
Dr Todd Lizon (Chiropractor)
Córdova A, Navas FJ. Effect of training on zinc metabolism: changes in serum and sweat zinc concentrations in sportsmen. Ann Nutr Metab. 1998;42(5):274-82.
Chen WQ, Cheng YY, Zhao XL, Li ST, Hou Y, Hong Y. Effects of zinc on the induction of metallothionein isoforms in hippocampus in stress rats. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2006;231(9):1564-8.
Singh A, Smoak BL, Patterson KY, LeMay LG, Veillon C, Deuster PA. Biochemical indices of selected trace minerals in men: effect of stress. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Jan;53(1):126-31. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/53.1.126. PMID: 1984337.