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Researchers report successful measurement of vitamin D in human hair

Credit: CC0 Public Domain A new study by researchers from Trinity College Dublin and St James Hospital has reported for the first time that vitamin D can be measured in human hair. The paper has been published in the international, peer-reviewed journal of human nutrition, Nutrients . Vitamin D deficiency has reached epidemic proportions worldwide, with over 1 billion people estimated to be affected. Deficiency has been linked to bone health, but it can also be a risk factor for depression, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, diabetes and cancer. Currently, the best way to assess vitamin D is to measure the concentration of vitamin D in the blood. However, it can be painful, requires expertise and training along with hygienic conditions / equipment, so getting a sample is not always useful. In addition, blood results represent vitamin D status at a single point in time, which is problematic since vitamin D changes with the seasons. It is not uncommon for someone to be adequate in vitamin D in the summer and a very shortage of winter. This means that a single snapshot of vitamin D status cannot provide information on vitamin D year-round. The current study is the first in the world to publish that it is possible to extract and measure vitamin D in human hair. This is an important advance in assessing vitamin D status, possibly one of the biggest innovations in vitamin D measurement. Traditional blood analysis captures only a while in time; In contrast, the hair, which grows…

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A new study by researchers from Trinity College Dublin and St James Hospital has reported for the first time that vitamin D can be measured in human hair. The paper has been published in the international, peer-reviewed journal of human nutrition, Nutrients .

Vitamin D deficiency has reached epidemic proportions worldwide, with over 1

billion people estimated to be affected. Deficiency has been linked to bone health, but it can also be a risk factor for depression, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, diabetes and cancer. Currently, the best way to assess vitamin D is to measure the concentration of vitamin D in the blood. However, it can be painful, requires expertise and training along with hygienic conditions / equipment, so getting a sample is not always useful. In addition, blood results represent vitamin D status at a single point in time, which is problematic since vitamin D changes with the seasons. It is not uncommon for someone to be adequate in vitamin D in the summer and a very shortage of winter. This means that a single snapshot of vitamin D status cannot provide information on vitamin D year-round.

The current study is the first in the world to publish that it is possible to extract and measure vitamin D in human hair. This is an important advance in assessing vitamin D status, possibly one of the biggest innovations in vitamin D measurement. Traditional blood analysis captures only a while in time; In contrast, the hair, which grows to about 1 cm per month, reflects the vitamin D status for several months, which captures the major seasonal differences in vitamin D status.

The main author of the study, Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Trinity College Dublin, Lina Zgaga said:

“This study presents the first step towards the development of a new test to assess vitamin D status over time. that vitamin D is continuously put into the hair when it grows, more can sometimes be deposited when the vitamin D concentration in the blood is high and less when it is low, therefore the test based on the hair sample can give doctors a measure of vitamin D status over time – If the hair is long enough, this may even be over a few years!

“Further research is needed to determine the exact relationship between the vitamin D concentration in the blood and the hair over time. We also need to investigate various factors that can affect the vitamin D levels in the hair, the most obvious are hair color and thickness or the use of hair products as hair color. “

Nutrition Research Fellow, Trinity College Dublin and co-author Dr. Eamon Laird, added:

” Other applications may also include historical samples from archaeological sites. Hair (along with teeth) are some of the longest-lasting biological materials after death and it may therefore be possible for the first time to assess the vitamin D status of historical populations – Elizabethan, Viking, Celtic, Roman, Chinese, Egyptian. Similarly, hair samples can also be used to assess long-term vitamin D status in animals with agricultural applications. The vitamin D status of ancient species can be measured in view of the well-preserved and abundant amounts of, for example, mammoth or ancient ice age hairs that are often found from the heating perforated rock and in museum samples. “

Chief Biochemist from the Biochemistry Department in St James Hospital and co-author Dr. Martin Healy said:

” The presence of vitamin D in hair can be interpreted as a personal record of a person’s vitamin D status. Having knowledge of an individual’s long-term vitamin D status through analysis of hair samples can enable better strategies to maintain stable and adequate vitamin D concentrations over a long period of time. “

” The finding that vitamin D can be measured in hair samples potentially opens a new approach to epidemiological studies involving vitamin to bone and non-bone medical conditions associated with its deficiency. “


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More information :
Lina Zgaga et al., 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Measurement in Human Hair: Results from a Proof of Concept study, nutrients (2019). DOI: 10.3390 / nu11020423


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Trinity College Dublin

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Scientists report successful measurement of vitamin D in human hair (2019, February 22)
February 23, 2019
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