One might say that I have a slight obsession with the Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis, otherwise known as HTMA. This functional test has become one of my favorites - for all my clients. It offers insight into digestive health, thyroid function, adrenal health, inflammation, heavy metal toxicity, mineral imbalances, immune function, and more. Not only is HTMA affordable, and provides incredibly valuable insight, but it’s also accurate.
Now I will say, this is one of the more complex tests I have studied to interpret as a Nutritional Therapist. I have waited to launch this option to the public for over two years, as I have taken three intensive trainings to ensure I understand the intricacies this test has to offer. Truly, understanding HTMA is like solving a puzzle. All the pieces affect each other, and they can’t be evaluated without looking at the whole.
It’s important to understand that the HTMA is not a diagnostic test. In fact, I do not do any diagnosis or treatment in my practice. Instead, I use functional testing alongside health assessments, symptom presentation, and often other labs to help see trends, put puzzle pieces together, and uncover opportunities to more deeply support each person’s unique body.
Want to know more about why I am so obsessed with this test, read on!
What is a HTMA?
HTMA is a screening test that uses soft tissue mineral biopsies (from hair) to provide a reading of the intracellular mineral levels and heavy metal deposition in the hair.
Hair is body tissue in which minerals get deposited in very specific patterns. This ultimately, when properly interpreted from a skilled practitioner, provides us with a blueprint for your unique body’s biochemistry. The hair tells your nutritional history has proven to be an effective way to glimpse how your body is responding to your environment (nutrition, toxicant, stress, metabolic processes and more).
Okay, sounds neat, but you may be asking why minerals matter?
Importance of Minerals
Minerals are the 'spark plugs' in the chemistry of life. They work synergistically with vitamins and other co-factors that allow all biochemical reactions to take place. They need to be consumed from our diet and sadly due to over farming - our soil often is lacking in minerals, thus our food is low in its minerals content. At the root of many of our imbalances - lie low mineral consumption, absorption or biounavailablity.
Nutrient mineral levels and their relationships to other nutrients (ratios) determine how well your cells function and impact physical and cognitive performance. This means we never view minerals in isolation. For example, taking one mineral as a supplement can greatly impact the balance of an opposing mineral. Take zinc for example. You may have heard on social media all the benefits of taking zinc during times of illness, well what you probably didn't hear zinc reduces copper.
Alrighty, so what's the big deal with that?
Copper is needed for all energy production in the body and it works along side iron. Both copper and iron (recycling) are the key to getting out of fatigue and restoring homeostasis to your energy production. The number one symptom I hear from my clients' is fatigue. Fatigue has reached an all time high over the past three years and I believe balancing your mineral holds the key to allowing you to shift.
How minerals play a role in the body systems Let's take a look at a few of our body systems that many of us struggle with and see how minerals play a significant role.
Adrenals: Sodium and potassium are fuel for our adrenals and depleted from chronic stress.. Magnesium is needed by the adrenals and has a high burn rate during times of stress. Both mercury and unregulated copper can add stress to the adrenals. Think stamina, stress, blood sugar and sleep.
Digestion: Zinc, sodium and cobalt are needed by the parietal cells to secrete stomach acids and also needed in the production of bile. If your stomach acid and bile are low, then you risk limiting digestion and assimilation of nutrients from your diet. Additionally, when phosphorus is out of balance that can indicate inadequate protein intake or that your body isn't breaking down protein well. Protein provides the build blocks of life. Think building/repairing, nutrient assimilation and detoxification.
Thyroid: The balance between calcium and potassium, can give insight to the intracellular activity of the nutrients needed for thyroid health. Iodine is required for the production of thyroid hormones and takes up thyroid through the sodium-iodide-symporter along with magnesium. Selenium, copper, zinc and iron all play a role in T4 to T3 conversion. Think metabolism/energy, hormone balance, and brain fog.
Liver: We need our liver functioning at its optimal level due to the amount of everyday toxicants we are exposed to. For example, a high cobalt on your test is a sign your liver is stressed, high iron can also be a stressor to the liver, as well as, high levels of heavy metals. Sulfur is an important element when it comes to detoxification capacity and we also get a glimpse at this mineral and how it relates to your liver through a HTMA. Think detoxification, hormones, digestion, blood sugar, energy and sleep issues.
Sex Hormones: Zinc stimulates the pituitary to release FSH and LH. Zinc is needed for progesterone and testosterone. Additionally, zinc and copper need to be in balance for estrogen and progesterone ratio. Magnesium is needed to make progesterone and estrogen, as well as, supporting estrogen excretion through the bile. Think pms, estrogen dominance, irregular cycles. and mood.
Honestly, I could go on, but I think you get the idea of why I am so excited to be able to offer the HTMA as a screening tool!
General signs and symptoms of mineral depletion
low energy / fatigue
water retention / puffiness
digestive issues / low stomach acid
poor stress resistance
poor sleep quality
always fighting a cold
take the mineral quiz
What can cause a mineral imbalance? Many of our everyday choices can contribute to mineral imbalances such as stress, our food choices and low levels of minerals found in soil depletion, toxicants in the environment, lack of sleep, our drinking supply, certain medications and supplements, vital and bacterial infections and more. These imbalances can be at the root of our feeling 'unwell' and 'lack of energy'.
What does a HTMA test reveal?
Mineral Deficiencies and Imbalances
Heavy Metal Toxicity
Metabolic Rate (fast or slow oxidation)
Optimal Macronutrient Ratios (for your oxidation type)
Nervous System Imbalances
Mental Health Issues
Blood Sugar Imbalances
Who can benefit?
Everyone can benefit, that's another cool thing about this screening tool. It's non-invasive, and can be done at home with only a teaspoon level of hair. I have used the HTMA with the following clients and each has had great success in bringing their main health challenges back into balance by following the nutritional guidelines and lifestyle adjustments their receive in their Roadmap to Health.
Children: Minerals are essential for growth and development. Balancing the minerals has shown to support the child's behavior challenges, learning difficulties, concentration and sleep. Children respond very well to nutritional support when it comes to balancing their minerals and gentle removal of toxic metals.
Burnt out moms: Let's face it moms get worked. Pregnancy in and of itself is a stress on the body that can drain our minerals. If you breast-fed, then your body may be even more depleted. The lack of sleep, running around and hardly ever having down time can really drain our minerals and need to be rebuilt and balanced. Supporting moms minerals ultimately benefits the whole family as you have more energy and feel freer to participate more fully in the parenting role.
Mood dysregulation: Minerals are the precursors to our neurotransmitter formation. For example zinc and magnesium are needed for 5htp to convert to serotonin and they are also needed for GABA. High levels (toxic) metals have been mimic certain psychiatric disorders. Balancing the mineral through nutrition has been shown to greatly support mood dysreulation in our clients (children and adults.)
Fatigue: A hair tissue mineral analysis can reveal insights into low energy. Addressing mineral imbalances and detoxifying heavy metals can considerably improve and balance energy. We like to couple those looking to balance energy with some additional bloodwork. The combination gives us a clear picture of how your energy system is functioning and ways to shift the needle for you. Bloodwork, click, here.
General health conditions: Mineral imbalances and toxic elements can aggravate many health conditions such as, POTS, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, thyroid imbalances, high blood pressure, blood sugar imbalances, osteoporosis and migraines to name a few.
So, what do we do with this information?
We gather your questionnaires, food journals and HTMA results and provide you with a detailed RoadMap To Health. This includes guidance for eating for your metabolic type by way of optimizing your macronutrients and building your body's mineral profile. Supplement recommendations for encouraging appropriate movement in the mineral levels and ratios. We suggest lifestyle adjustments for your particular metabolic type that will provide a healthy environment for your body to balance and heal.
This is a maximum 3-4 month plan with a retest round the 4 month mark. We never want to continue on a given protocol beyond the recommended time frame because changes can occur that can indicate changes need to be made in the protocol. Neglecting to do this could push a person out of balance in the other direction, which is the opposite of what we’re trying to accomplish.
How do you work?
By now I am sure you can see why I am so excited to add HTMA to my practice. While, the test itself reveals much data, we work in priorities with each client. We meet each client where they are at and offer nutritional support and lifestyle adjustments to bring the body back into homeostasis.
We always prefer to work with clients one-on-one, as we find most need longer term support, accountability and coaching. However, we also found many want the ability to run individual functional test(s) and gain generalized insight from a qualified practitioner, thus is why we also offer many of our functional test via an A La Cart option.
If you are ready to deep dive and find out what a HTMA can reveal for your health, then we have an amazing offer for you. For a very limited time, we are offering our ReBoot: Hair Tissue and Mineral Analysis at a discounted rate. Check out what you get in this package.
At-home test kit (hair sample)
HTMA Nutritional Questionnaire & Food Journal
Report & results
Personalized 3-month road map to balanced health
Suggestive supportive lifestyle adjustments
Suggestive supplements (offered at a discount)
30min Consultation to review your results.
Grab yours today or learn more here.
How is your mineral status? Take our mineral quiz here.
We look forward to supporting you along your health journey!
Watts, DL. Nutrient Interrelationships Minerals — Vitamins — Endocrines. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. Vol. 5, No. 1, 1990. http://www.orthomolecular.org/library/jom/1990/pdf/1990-v05n01-p011.pdf
Watts, DL: Trace Elements and Neuropsychological Problems as Reflected in Tissue Mineral Analysis (TMA) Patterns. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, 1990; Vol. 5, No. 3: 159-166. http://www.orthomolecular.org/library/jom/1990/pdf/1990-v05n03-p159.pdf
Casdorph, H.R. and Walker, M., Toxic Metal Syndrome, Avery Publishing, New York, 1995.
Pfeiffer, C & Mailloux, R: Excess Copper as a Factor in Human Diseases. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, 1987; 2, no. 3: 171-182. http://orthomolecular.org/library/jom/1987/pdf/1987-v02n03-p171.pdf
Environmental Protection Agency. Toxic Trace Metals in Human and Mammalian Hair and Nails, EPA-600 4.79-049, August 1979, US Environmental Protection Agency, Research and Development.
Walsh, William, Ph.D. Biochemical Treatment of Mental Illness and Behavior Disorders. Health Research Institute, Minnesota Brain Bio Association November 17, 1997 http://www.hriptc.org/BioTreatment.html
Assarlan, GS, Oberleas, D, Effect of washing procedures on trace element content of hair. Clin Chem., 1977;23(9):1771-1772.
Seidel, S. et al., Assessment of Commercial Laboratories Performing Hair Mineral Analysis, JAMA, 285(1) Jan 3:67-72. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=193418
For a complete list of books and studies on Hair mineral Analysis, see http://nutritionalbalancing.org/center/htma/science/articles/htma-references.php