HTMA - Frequently Asked Questions

Living Matters Nutrition Aypril Porter, NTP, RWP Olympia, WA Hair Mineral Analysis HTMA

Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) is a tool that helps us to understand what minerals are available for use in the body.

Though often used to screen for heavy metal exposure, HTMA offers a lot more, such as:

  • Insight on the body's nutrient needs.

  • If your cells are able to receive the hormones, like insulin, thyroid, etc. into them.

  • Which foods will best support your metabolic rate.

  • Supplements that may be beneficial to your current status.


These are some of the most common questions I am asked about hair mineral testing (HTMA).

Have Other Questions? Email Me


How do I get started?

The first step is to schedule a Discovery Session, where you will receive the hair test kit. You'll complete a 3-day food journal, health history, disclaimer, and Nutrition Questionnaire. After results come in, we will meet for an 80-minute appointment to review the test.

What if I color my hair?

Colored hair is not the most ideal. Chemically treated hair can be used if washed at least 10 times and its been at least 4 weeks since coloring. Virgin (non-treated -color or perm) is optimal for testing.

How much hair do you need?

Collection only uses the first 1-1.5 inches of hair growth closest to the scalp. Volume is hard to visualize as finer hair will require more than coarser hair. Samples are measured by weight. The lab needs only about 125mg of hair to run the test.

What do I have to do to get better?

Each person and healing journey is unique. No two people will be exactly the same. But, some factors are the same for everyone.

A nutrient-dense whole food diet.

Proper digestion.

Managing blood sugar fluctuations.

Supporting endocrine and adrenal health.

Maintaining proper mineral and fatty acid balance

Open detoxification pathways.

Addressing stress, emotional concerns, and spiritual needs.

How long will it take?

You should be prepared to commit to at least 3-6 months of intense healing.

The real answer is, it takes years to rebuild the body. So when someone asks me, “How long do I need to see you?”, My answer is, “How long do you want to be healthy?” We're exposed to stress and toxins every day, requiring us to take action to keep our health.

The first year of testing is regular-every 2-4 months depending on your situation. After that, every 6-12 months is typical.

I'm not sick. I don't have a diagnosis, why would I want to do a hair test?

HTMA is beneficial in helping people to feel better, but it’s also helpful to keep your body on the healthy track.

Do you take supplements for health “insurance,” but wonder they're the right ones for you?

Too much of the wrong vitamins can cause harm. Did you know that vitamin D increases calcium absorption in the gut? For those who don't have the cofactors of calcium regulation, this can be detrimental. It can lead to bone spurs, gallstones, kidney stones, and even hardening of the arteries. -Reference Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox by Kate Rheaume-Bleue.

How is hair testing different than a blood test?

A blood test is a picture from a moment in time. It reflects what is going on in the body right now, at this very minute. If you feel stressed, or get upset before having labs drawn, it can change the results. Two blood draws on the same day can produce different results, because the body is always adjusting.

A hair test is different because it's an average of the last 3 months of what is going on at a cellular level in the body.

It asks the questions:

Are your hormones effective at a cellular level?

Do you have enough minerals to support detoxification?

Do you have a proper balance of Calcium to Magnesium?

Is your digestion strong?

Is there an imbalance due to supplementation or deficiencies?

How is stress impacting your health?

Trends in the hair can alert us to future problems if not addressed.

Feeding your body the nutrients it needs to do what it does best, balance!

How often do I need to retest?

Testing should be done every 3-4 months for a slow oxidizer and about every 2 months for a fast or mixed oxidizer. Patterns can shift faster for a fast or mixed oxidizer. We reassess and revise your nutrient needs and dietary plan at every retest.

Fast oxidation vs. Slow oxidation?

The HTMA tells us whether you are a fast, slow, or mixed oxidizer. It tells us how efficient are you at using your food for fuel for your body. Fast oxidizers need more fats and proteins to provide them enough fuel because they burn through it much faster. Slow oxidizers feel better with lighter fats and leaner meats. Both need nutrient dense vegetables.

Why do I even need supplements?

The sad truth is, it is just impossible to meet our nutritional needs from food alone now. The soils are so depleted, to get the iron that was available in one cup of spinach in 1945, you would have to consume 65 cups today!

Unfortunately, without working to correct our nutritional deficiencies, we would all suffer from malnutrition. Our bodies are literally starving. This is why disease is so rampant. Combine lack of nutrition with the toxic overload we are exposed to on a daily basis, in our food supply, water, environmental, hygiene and cleaning products, is it really any wonder why health is declining?

Can't I just chelate the metals out?

Can you? Yes, of course, you could, and in some cases, this is needed. However, this can be a harsh process if your body is not prepared. It can increase fatigue and other symptoms if you don’t have good mineral ratios and levels.

The idea behind nutritional mineral balancing is that we give the body what it needs to be able to release the metals and minerals it doesn’t need when it’s ready to, rather than forcing them out. This is a much more gentle process. Think of it as more of a marathon than a sprint.

We are always exposed to more toxins, so the ideal scenario is to be alway releasing these toxins as well. Doing this when the body is ready to, it’s a much more gentle process, and people feel better and better, while on a program.

How can I have too much of a mineral or metal? I don't have any exposure to these things.

If you live on this planet, you’re exposed to toxins, every day. We can’t get away from it. Automotive fumes, batteries, copper water pipes, chlorine in drinking water, soaps, lotions, fabric softeners, make up, etc., chemical toxins are everywhere. We can’t completely eliminate those things. We can limit our exposure quite a bit though with some conscious effort.

We can monitor our minerals and make sure we are supplying the body with what it needs to be able to detox these toxic exposures with HTMA.

When looking at an HTMA, it’s a good sign to see metals increase on re-testing, showing that the body is eliminating them.

When we see no metals being eliminated on an initial test, then we know that that person is not eliminating their toxins well and their body needs support to be able to do that efficiently.

We want to detox naturally, rather than forcefully.

Why wouldn't I have enough minerals in my body?




Chronic illnesses




Isolated mineral or vitamin supplements for extended use without testing

Compromised digestion

Blood sugar dysregulation

Beyond that, our soils don’t have the minerals that they once had. Even organic farming can be lacking in essential minerals. This is why we can all benefit from HTMA.

Our lives are busy, stressed, rushed, and often we eat things out of convenience.

Digestion is foundational. If we don't digest our food well, we can eat the most beautiful, organic, whole food diet and yet our bodies are still starving for the nutrients they need.

There’s an old saying that says “you are what you eat,” but it’s been better revised to “you are what you can digest that you eat.”

What minerals/metals do you test for?

The HTMA test shows your levels of:


Looking at each of these minerals on its own gives us a certain level of information, but when we look at the ratios between specific minerals and as a whole, we can get even more information about how they work to support specific systems in the body.

Those systems can include your adrenals, thyroid, digestion, hormones, cardiovascular system, blood sugar regulation, and general overall vitality and life force.