Lithium, Potassium and the Hair Minerals Test

The test Dr. Amy likes to see first is the Hair Elements Analysis. She has dubbed it the ‘Hair Minerals Test’ and uses the acronym HMT for it.

Here is what she says about it in her online book Feel Good Biochemistry that can be accessed at

“I look at a HMT the same way you would view counting the rings on the cross section of a tree to know how old the tree is. While fecal and urine testing give you up to the moment data, the amount of a mineral excreted on the day you collected the sample, the HMT gives you an historical sense of which areas of mineral balance to focus on. An example of the centrality and the value of the HMT data I have been accumulating over the past decade is my finding that low lithium is a key feature for adults as well as children with a range of health issues.

“Lithium plays a role in B12 transport into the cell. B12 functions at a very critical juncture in the process of making methyl groups, as well as in a range of other functions in your body. You want to be certain that you have adequate lithium in your body prior to adding high doses of B12 because of the interaction of lithium with B12 transport. If you add B12 and other supplements that activate what I call the long route around the methylation cycle, the route that uses Methionine Synthase (MTR) and Methionine Synthase Reductase (MTRR), prior to being sure that you have enough lithium in your body, then you run the risk of further depleting your lithium levels, which can cause symptoms like inattention and other consequences.

“It is also important that potassium be in balance and well supported when adding lithium. Addressing both minerals at the same time is useful, as low levels of both lithium and potassium can induce aggressive and anti-social behavior. Energy supplements can also impact lithium levels, as well as a number of other minerals besides potassium. If there is not sufficient energy being generated by the mitochondria in your cells, this can cause low lithium, low potassium, and problems maintaining adequate levels of sodium, calcium and other minerals. Mitochondrial support can be helpful when this happens.

“The HMT also gives you a sense of the balance between calcium and magnesium, as well as zinc and copper. Ideally magnesium should be higher than calcium, because calcium works with glutamate to cause over excitation of nerves. Excess copper relative to zinc can be a factor in attention problems. Appropriate copper and zinc levels are also important for neurotransmitter balance, since copper is a cofactor for the enzymes that break down dopamine and serotonin.

“The HMT is also useful in determining molybdenum balance. Molybdenum and B12 work together with the enzyme sulfite oxidase to detoxify sulfate from your body. Sulfur levels on the HMT can be seen as a secondary measure of your need for molybdenum and B12 transport. If the sulfur on your HMT is high, you want to be sure that your body has adequate levels of molybdenum and B12.

“Those who are SHMT +, or who have significant bacterial imbalances, should limit iron supplementation, or use nutrients to help balance iron if the levels are high on a HMT or Urine Toxic Metals and Essential Elements Test. Iron can increase bacterial virulence, and it increases the activity of the SHMT pathway, so ideally, serum iron levels should be checked. Consider also checking Ferritin, Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC), % Saturation, and your Reticulocyte Count for a complete reading on iron if you are concerned about your iron levels.

“The HMT gives you useful information on additional essential minerals, as well as a sense of the level of toxic metal excretion from your body. When you know what toxins are being excreted, you can supplement with compounds that may help escort them from your body. Different ‘escorts’ are applicable for different toxic metals. Aluminum requires different escorts from mercury or nickel. I suggest running a HMT at least twice a year, and for those individuals who are MTR +, or who show very low lithium levels on a HMT, then running a HMT every 3 to 4 months to be certain that essential elements stay in balance is a good idea.

“Finally, when there is a high level of excretion of many essential minerals at the same time, meaning if you are seeing black lines to the right for multiple essential minerals, this can be a sign that more mitochondrial support is needed. In this case, running a Metabolic Analysis Profile to look at energetic markers, as well as adding additional mitochondrial support, can be considered. Extremely low potassium and lithium, in the absence of an MTR + status, may also be a sign that more mitochondrial support is needed.”

It is up to YOU to learn more about treating your chronic illness successfully…

You need to know about the role of optimizing both methyl group production and your capacity for methylation.

This is your opportunity.

My Tuesday evening calls are ongoing. They happen every week. There is no charge to come to the call. It is free forum where you can ask your questions. It’s a great way to clear up confusion, overcome the obstacles you may be having, and get on the path to wellness.

The time: Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time

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Join us to inform yourself so that you can be proactive about your health!

So excellent! I literally learn something on every single call and I get clarification on things that have been lingering on my mind…

You are giving people a huge gift by empowering them…It’s about helping the patient become their own healer by taking them to a higher level of consciousness…

Thank you so much Dr. Mullan. Thank you so, so much for everything you do.

Wow! I have to tell you, this was such an uplifting call. It’s so nice to hear good news especially about a child. Anxiety, OCD and a host of other mental/psychiatric symptoms have been a huge hurdle for me. So to hear this story of all those awful symptoms totally going away is such a bright light for me!!!!

This is brilliant. I hope a lot of people not doing methylation work will see this. I wish I’d seen this before I started doing daily injections of B12 and folic acid and ended up in a crisis. Maybe had I known to have the genetic methylation stuff going, the IV therapies I did that really helped would not have been so traumatic…


Nancy Mullan MD

Author, lecturer, clinician,
Dr. Nancy Mullan is best known for her natural treatment of chronic illness, including Autism Spectrum Disorders, Lyme and MTHFR+.

2829 Burbank Blvd., Suite 202, Burbank CA 91505
T: (818) 954-9267 – F: (818) 954-0620


About Nancy Mullan, MD

Some people call Dr. Nancy Mullan the MTHFR genetic medicine expert. Dr. Mullan works with people who are struggling with chronic disease or other significant illness, who are willing to use diet and genetics-based nutritional supplementation, and who want to increase wellbeing and energy, enhance immunity, lift mood, fine-tune genetic function, and get their lives back. Dr. Mullan has studied at a number of exceptional institutions: the University of Pennsylvania, Tufts University School of Medicine, and the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics. She excels at integrating the results of biochemical and genetic testing into sustained clinical improvement for you. She has succeeded with patients who confounded the specialists at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, Stanford, and many well-known integrative medical doctors. When recommending her, her patients say, “This is the woman you need to talk to. She really knows how to handle tough clinical problems.” Dr. Mullan's specialty areas are MTHFR+, methylation genetics, and genetics-based nutritional supplementation. Within this context, she most often works with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lyme Disease, Psychiatric Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Women’s Health Issues, Thyroid Disorder, Gastrointestinal Disorder, and Heavy Metal Toxicity.
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