London: Researchers have discovered that vitamin D can now be measured with human hair, paving the way for a better diagnosis of vitamin deficiency. With more than one billion people affected, vitamin D deficiency, a risk factor for depression, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, diabetes and cancer, has reached epidemic proportions around the world.
While the traditional blood test captures the levels at a single point in time, in contrast, the hair, which grows approximately one centimeter per month, could reflect the state of vitamin D for several months, capturing the large seasonal differences in the levels.
“The study presents the idea that vitamin D is continuously deposited in the hair as it grows, more could be deposited at times when the concentration of vitamin D in the blood is high and less when it is low,” said the lead author , Lina Zgaga, Associate Professor at Trinity College, Dublin.
“Therefore, a test based on the hair sample could give doctors a measure of the state of vitamin D over time, if the hair is long enough, even this could last for a few years,” Zgaga added. . The findings were published in the journal Nutrientes. However, more research is needed to establish the exact relationship between the concentration of vitamin D in the blood and in the hair over time.
There is also a need to investigate different factors that could affect vitamin D levels in hair, the most obvious being the color and thickness of hair, or the use of hair products such as hair dye, said Zgaga.
The discovery could also have other applications, since hair (along with teeth) are some of the most durable biological materials surviving after death and, therefore, it might be possible to assess the vitamin D status of historical populations. : Elizabethans, Vikings, Celts, Romans, ancient Chinese, Egyptians, researchers said.