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J Anim Sci. 1987 Dec;65(6):1753-8.

Hair analysis as an indicator of mineral status of livestock.

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Dept. of Dairy Sci., University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706.


Despite several inherent characteristics that would appear to make hair a useful biopsy tissue, many problems make interpretation of data derived from hair analysis difficult. Endogenous minerals are incorporated into hair by several routes. Most attention on hair mineral incorporation has focused on element uptake within the hair follicle. Minerals incorporated within the follicle are presumably chemically or physically associated with cortical cells of the hair shaft and reflect mineral status at the time that the hair filament was synthesized. Because hair follicles in most species regularly go through cycles of intense metabolic activity and quiescence, mineral incorporation through the follicle is not a continual process. Mineral deposition onto hair does not cease when the follicle is not producing a hair fiber. The hair shaft is continuously exposed to several elements through contact with secretions from sebaceous, apocrine and eccrine glands. Significant quantities of major and trace elements of endogenous origin are adsorbed onto the hair surface via these secretions, especially when hair growth is not occurring or is very slow. For several elements significant correlations exist between mineral concentrations in hair and mineral intake. These correlations, however, are usually quite low. Non-dietary factors such as sex, age, hair color, sire, body location and contamination affect mineral levels in hair. Dietary intake of calcium, phosphorus and iron are also known to affect uptake of other elements in hair. Because many factors cause variation in mineral content in hair, hair analyses are not precise indicators of mineral status. Hair mineral analyses may be useful, however, when combined with other indicators of mineral status to provide a more precise assessment of mineral status in livestock.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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