Changes in Trace Element Concentrations in Hair of Growing Children

Head hair concentrations of zinc, copper, manganese, and iron from a total of 418 subjects (154 male and 264 female) aged between 6 mo and 20 yr were measured mainly with flameless atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Only zinc analysis of a part of the female samples (n = 140) were analyzed with inductively coupled plasma–atomic emission spectrometry. The two analytical methods showed close agreement.

The mean concentration of copper and manganese were significantly higher in male subjects than in female subjects. The trace element concentrations in hair varied with the subject’s age. Zinc concentration in hair decreased from 6 mo to 14 yr in the male subjects and decreased from 6 mo to 12 yr in the female subjects. Then, the concentrations increased gradually to 20 yr in the both sexes. Age dependent variations of copper and manganese concentrations in hair showed similar trends to those of zinc. The results of this study suggest that a higher concentration in the diet of these trace elements may be required for growing children, especially in the period of adolescence.

Takashi Sakai, Masanobu Wariishi, and Keitaro Nishiyama (Biological Trace Element Research, Vol. 77, 2000)