Abstract: Equine Hair Mineral Analysis: Fact or Fiction?

Sarah Ralston, VMD, PhD, DACVN
Professor Emeritus
Department of Animal Science
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

The use of hair mineral analyses by commercial supplement companies has been going on for decades with no scientific proof of the validity of their claims. Controlled studies have shown little to no correlation with the mineral content of horse hair to their mineral intake (less than 30% of the variation seen explained by the mineral content of the ration in one study). Hair analysis of other substances such as fatty acids and drug residues does appear to have some basis in fact, but as far as the claims of detecting metabolic and other health disorders there is no scientific evidence the author could find to validate these claims. The fact the virtually all of the companies also manufacture and recommend supplements that also have no scientific proof of efficacy for the conditions “identified” by the analyses makes this even more concerning. Some of the ingredients in the supplements can even be toxic or cause positive drug tests in performance horses. This talk will give what is currently known and point out some of the supplement ingredients you should really avoid if you choose to do a hair mineral analysis.