It’s widely believed that intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair. In actuality, no factual evidence shows a correlation between metals, such as copper and zinc, in the hair and intelligence. However, the truth it does show is much more interesting.
Zinc and Copper in Hair
The origin of this myth probably came from the association with certain hair colors and intelligence. Perhaps the widespread belief in this myth is the root of the “dumb blonde” stereotype. Research has found that individuals with darker hair color have higher concentrations of zinc and copper in their hair than those with lighter colored hair. This is according to studies:
- Determination of copper and zinc levels in human hair: influence of sex, age, and hair pigmentation, conducted by the Department of Science Pharmaceuticals at the University of Padova, Italy
- The influence of hair color on the concentration of zinc and copper in boys’ hair, documented by Dorea JG, Pereira SE. J Nutr. 1983 Nov;113(11):2375-81
Before those of you with dark brown and black hair begin jumping for joy in your new found IQ status, read on. The scientific findings behind abnormal concentrations of these minerals gets much darker.
Detecting Trace Elements
First, let’s look at how they detect these trace elements in your hair. Since 1858, science has been using strands of hair to find traces of toxins in the body. Those toxins do not simply disappear once you urinate. Instead, they are held in the blood stream and ultimately captured as a kind of record in your hair.
Now for the dark truth.
Zinc, Copper, and Mental Disorders?
The study Commentary on Nutritional Treatment of Mental Disorders, conducted by Willam Walsh, Ph.D., Senior Scientist at Walsh Research Institute, tested individuals with mental health issues. These studies included subjects with paranoid schizophrenia and ADHD. They were found to have much higher concentrations of copper in their blood stream, which was subsequently identified in strands of their hair. Patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s were also found to have higher traces of zinc in their blood stream.
The reason behind the abnormal concentrations is hypothesized to be related to genetic traits and low amino acid composition; however, a firm determination of the cause has not been published.