In a new study, researchers found vitamin D can be measured in human hair.
It is the first in the world to publish that it is possible to extract and measure vitamin D in human air.
The finding could help detect vitamin D deficiency more effectively.
The research was conducted by a team from Trinity College Dublin and St James’s Hospital.
Previous studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is a serious health condition worldwide.
More than 1 billion people estimated to be affected by it.
People with vitamin D deficiency may suffer from bone disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and depression.
Currently, the best way to measure vitamin D levels in the body is the blood test.
This method is painful and requires expertise and special training.
In addition, it requires hygienic conditions and equipment and is not easy to be performed.
Another disadvantage of a blood test for vitamin D is that it only shows the vitamin D levels at a single time point.
But vitamin D levels could change across seasons. In the summertime, it is easy to get enough vitamin D; while in winter time, it is harder to get enough vitamin D.
In the current study, the team aimed to develop a better way to measure vitamin D levels in the body.
They found that vitamin D is deposited continuously in the hair as it grows.
Human hair grows at approximately 1cm per month. It could reflect vitamin D levels over months to capture the seasonal differences in vitamin D levels.
The findings suggest that a test based on the human hair sample may help provide a measure of vitamin D status over time.
Moreover, if hair is long enough, it may provide vitamin D level information over a few years.
The team plans to examine the link between the vitamin D levels in the blood and in the hair over time. In addition, they will test what factors influence vitamin D in human hair.
They also suggest that using hair and tooth samples, it is possible to test the vitamin D levels in historical populations, such as ancient Chinese, Viking, Egyptian, Celtic, Elizabethans, and Roman.
The lead author of the study is Associate Professor in Epidemiology, Trinity College Dublin, Lina Zgaga.
The study is published in Nutrients, an international, peer-reviewed journal of human nutrition.
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Further reading: Nutrients.