DESCRIPTION OF METHODOLOGY:
The concentration of the trace elements can be determined both in body fluids and tissues. Trace element concentration in the blood often does not give a complete picture of the content of these elements in the body. This is due to the fact that the composition of plasma in large measure depends on homeostatic mechanisms and the final concentration is the result of balancing of their concentrations by various homeostatic mechanisms. The concentration of elements in the blood largely depends on the actual diet.
Current methods to determine the concentration of trace elements are characterized by extremely high sensitivity. These are: atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS), spectrometry using inductive coupled plasma (ICAP), or the method of neutron activation analysis (NAA). These methods allowed the detection of over 30 trace elements present in hair
Many pathological conditions of the organism are closely related to changes in the concentrations of trace elements in tissues. It has been shown that the best method of determining the amount of trace elements in the body is to examine their concentration in hair and nails. It is a fully alternative method in relation to blood and urine analysis. The hair and nails are outside the surface of the skin. They are excluded from metabolic processes. The nails are less suitable material in comparison to hairs due to difficulties to completely remove exogenous contaminants. Hair, in contrast, is an inert, stable tissue that does not undergo a biological change. The keratin outer sheath of hair fully prevents both the loss of internal components and the inlet of external contaminants to the inside. This ensures the stability of the chemical composition. In contrast to nails, contaminants from the outside can be easily removed, thus making it possible to obtain a very good reproducibility of the analytical results.
The samples of hair are collected non-invasively. They can be sent without changing the chemical composition. Especially valuable is the analysis of toxic trace elements in the hair.
The analysis of concentrations of trace elements in the hair is the best method of evaluating the mineral condition of the body.
The tissue of the hair is made up of a protein containing a lot of cysteine. This amino acid due to the presence of a thiol group (SH) has properties that chelate elements of the transition groups. As a result, the concentration of trace elements in the hair is about fifty times higher than the concentration in the blood and urine.
Many research centres in the world carry out work on assessing the correlation between the concentration of trace elements in the hair and the amount of these elements in the body, both in the case of physiological balance as in pathological disorders.
The mechanisms of metabolism involve minerals that play an important role in life due to the physico-chemical participation in biochemical structures. The transformation of inorganic compounds, especially metal cations (macro and micronutrients) is related to enzymatic reactions of the body. The metabolism of macro and microelements is regulated by organic components. It plays a crucial role in metabolic processes. It depends on the efficiency of the endocrine system and the nervous system.
The analysis of macro- and microelements in the hair gives a precise description of the metabolic condition of the body. The mineral composition of the body largely depends on external factors. Depending on the type of food, physical activity, and the degree of contamination of the environment, the mineralisation (deposition of mineral matter), demineralisation (depletion in minerals) or transmineralisation processes (regrouping of minerals in the body) take place in the body. The elements released as a result of metabolism can be used again for new tasks in metabolism.
Physiological life processes do not depend only on the composition and concentration of particular elements, but also on their proportion in the system. For individual areas of the body there is a strictly defined ion balance, which is maintained at a constant level. On the basis of the proportion between certain elements the metabolic activity and regularity of physiological processes can be evaluated. Among trace elements, there are synergistic and antagonistic relationships directly affecting the metabolism of the body. To maintain appropriate relations between the different elements is in many cases more important than their normal levels.