Gray Hair – Causes and Prevention

Our bodies undergo many different changes as we age, from wrinkles to gray hair. Nowadays, there are a number of anti-aging products on the market for your skin, but what about your hair? Do you simply succumb to the inevitability that as you age, your hair will turn gray or white? While there are currently no known ways to turn your gray hair back to its original color, there are a number of ways to help prevent premature graying of your hair.  This is good news for people who are concerned about going gray in the near future. For the rest of us who have already gone gray, we can either use hair dye or embrace the change in our appearance.

grey hair

Causes of Gray Hair

Although when we will go gray is often determined by genetics, there are a number of factors that can contribute to premature graying. We’ll spend some time addressing these factors below, but feel it’s important to address what actually happens in your body to cause the appearance of gray hair. Tiny particles in our hair follicles called melanocytes are responsible for our hair’s coloring. As we age, our hair follicles gradually stop producing pigment. Another contributing cause to gray hair is the natural build of hydrogen peroxide in our hair follicles. Unfortunately, these are natural phenomenon, and nothing can be done to help promote the production or melanocytes or the reduction of hydrogen peroxide production in our hair. However, there are a number of additional determining factors that are scientifically proven to cause premature graying.

There are a number of other issues associated with premature gray hair in adults, and taking preventative measures may stave off the appearance of grays. For example, there is strong scientific evidence that smoking cigarettes is a large contributing factor in premature grayness. Smoking is also the primary cause of a number of other health-related problems, and is best to avoid for the sake of your body and your hair.

One less common issue that is also proven to cause graying hair is a deficiency of the B-12 vitamin. B-12 deficiency happens for a number of reasons, some of which require medical intervention. Sometimes something as simple as changing your diet and taking a vitamin B-12 supplement can be the difference in whether you start seeing grays appear when you look in the mirror. Vitamin B-12 is typically found in meats, eggs, and milk products, so integrating more of these foods into your diet may help as well.

Sometimes there are medical reasons associated with a vitamin B-12 deficiency. This problem can manifest itself if your stomach is not properly absorbing the vitamin, despite taking supplements and maintaining a balanced diet. Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes intolerance to wheat and other grain products, is a known cause for vitamin B-12 deficiency. Other issues of the small or large intestine, such as tapeworms, a bacterial imbalance, or Crohn’s disease can also cause malabsorption.

If you suspect you may be suffering from any of these issues, it is best to consult your doctor to discuss treatment options as the symptoms may worsen over time.

There are several other medical issues associated with premature grayness. People who suffer from vitiligo, a disease which affects melatonin production, can experience the early onset of gray hair as well as patches of lighter skin on their bodies. Vitiligo patches on the skin can be treated through UVA/UVB phototherapy, but there is currently no known treatment for the loss of hair pigmentation that may be caused by this condition.

Conditions of the thyroid are also common causes of the appearance of gray hair in adults. Hypothyroidism, which causes a deficiency of the thyroid hormone, and hyperthyroidism, which causes the body to produce too much of the thyroid hormone, are both linked to premature graying. Autoimmune conditions of the thyroid, such as Grave’s disease and Hashimoto’s disease, are also contributing factors.

Prevention of Gray Hair

Some people believe that alternative medicine could provide some solutions to the issue of going gray early. For example, in traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that there are links between healthy hair and healthy blood and kidneys. If your hair goes gray early, it may signify an underlying issue. Some foods believed to promote kidney and blood health are wheat grass, nettles, black sesame seeds, and blackstrap molasses. However, it is important to remember that eating too much of any of these foods can cause adverse effects on your body. Contrary to the belief that the B-12 vitamin is linked to gray hair, traditional Chinese medicine says that you should try to avoid meat and dairy products to help prevent grays.

While genetics is a huge contributing factor in when each of us will go gray, there are also a number of other factors associated with premature grayness. While preventative measures may help stave off the appearance of grays, sometimes the change is just inevitable. So what can be done if you already have a head full of gray hair? Unfortunately, your options are fairly limited. Having gone gray at the age of 22, I opt to dye my hair on my own every 4-6 weeks. There are a number of natural hair dye products out on the market now that provide wonderful gray coverage without all of the chemicals that may be harmful to your hair’s health. You can also consult a professional if you’d prefer to have your hair color matched in a salon, or have highlights added to minimize the look of grays.

If you already have a significant amount of gray hair, the other option is to just embrace the change! Gray hair is a great look for many people, and coupling the color with a funky haircut conveys a sense of edginess and youthfulness. Rocking your new gray hair is easy, and much less expensive than visiting a salon or buying a box of hair color to cover it up each month!

This is a Guest Article by Timothy Jenkins from If you are also interested to write for HealthResource4u, Please check our guest posting guidelines

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