Some Trace Elements Detectable In Horse Hair, Not Blood

A new study from the University of Kentucky sought to determine if the trace elements present in a horse’s mane changed as the horse aged. The study also sought to determine the relationship between whole blood trace element content and mane hair trace elements.

Mane hair and blood samples were taken from 59 horses between the ages of 2 months and 26 years old, all housed on the same farm. Both hair and blood samples were analyzed for 11 trace elements.

Researchers found that concentrations of trace elements in mane hair were higher than that of blood; specifically, chromium, lead and manganese were detectable in hair, but below detection levels in blood. Researchers said this suggests that mane hair may be able to be used to investigate suspected exposure to excessive levels of heavy metals or trace minerals that are hard to detect in blood.

There was a weak correlation between age and mane hair content of selenium, copper and arsenic. Whole blood samples showed correlations between age and iron, selenium and zinc. Researchers found no trace element correlation between mane hair and blood.

The scientists also found that mane hair that was contaminated from the environment (like hair that had dirt on it), can bias the analysis outcome. Standard washing procedures and the way data is reported is important, they note.

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