Did you know that gray hair is related to ethnicity? On average, you will see gray-haired African Americans at age 40, gray-haired Asians in the late 30s, and white-skinned people showing signs of gray hair already in the mid-30s. Therefore, if you are gray-haired before what it should be is premature graying. The hair is naturally dyed by a pigment called melanin, which is released by special cells called melanocytes. As you get older, the hair shaft and hair follicles begin to wear out. Over time, the number of melanocytes decreases or ceases to function as effectively as before – and that is when you begin to see signs of “gray hair.” But premature graying can have several causes and risk factors.
5 Causes of premature graying
1. Genetic Trend:
The tendency to early graying may be encoded in your DNA. In a study of 6,000 Latin Americans, scientists recently identified the gene – IRF4. That is the same gene that is responsible for clear hair coloring in Europeans. Variations in this gene may unfavorably tip the proportion of melanin.
2. Lack of Certain Nutrients:
Nutritional deficiencies of vitamin B12, vitamin D3, copper and iron can color your hair. The lack could be due to the fact that you are not consuming enough of these nutrients through the diet (or the sun’s rays, in the case of vitamin D) or because you have an underlying condition that hinders their absorption – for example, the low level of Stomach acid decreases the absorption of B12.
“Smoking can cause you to age faster, causing hair to turn gray before age 30 and causing the skin to wrinkle”.
Although the exact mechanism is not yet understood, scientists believe it is due to oxidative stress caused by free radicals or nicotine releases of reactive oxygen species.
4. Damage Caused by Free Radicals:
Oxidative stress is an enemy to your melanocytes, whether caused by radiation, emotional or psychological stress, or inflammation in the body. All this generates free radicals. Even prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause stress on the hair. Oxymelanin is an oxidative photodegradation product that is generated due to exposure to sunlight, which causes stress on the tufts and hair shaft. Over time, as natural levels of antioxidants in the body decrease, hydrogen peroxide, a byproduct of metabolic reactions in the body, accumulates near the roots of the hair. Hydroxide peroxide is a bleaching agent. So eventually it leads to hair graying.
5. Certain Autoimmune and Genetic Disorders:
If you have celiac disease or kwashiorkor, this leads to protein loss, which then affects the melanocytes.
- Vitiligo, an autoimmune skin disorder.
- Hashimoto’s disease and Grave’s disease, autoimmune thyroid disorders that cause hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, respectively.
- Werner syndrome, also called adult progeria.
- Zinsser-Cole-Engman syndrome or congenital dyskeratosis, a hereditary syndrome that not only grays the hair, but also produces other signs of aging, such as osteoporosis and tooth loss.
4 Ways to Prevent Premature Graying of Hair:
Normal age-related graying is to be expected, and you really can’t escape it, although some lifestyle changes can help keep you from turning gray earlier than normal. Certain foods such as antioxidant-rich foods can also help decrease the rate of natural hair aging. However, what you could prevent are triggers for early graying that can be avoided, or other causes that can be controlled by treating the underlying disorders. Below are some of them.
1. Eat the Right Foods:
Feed your hair with the nutrients you need and may slow down the graying of the hair. In addition to avoiding the deficiency of certain nutrients, the graying of the hair can be delayed by giving it the “food” it needs to really thrive. It is known that vitamins A, C and E in particular help intervene with aging hair and prevent it from drying out, becoming brittle and gray before its time.
- Vitamin B12: Obtain an adequate amount of vitamin B12 making sure your diet contains eggs, shellfish, organ meat, poultry and milk. But also check if you have a low stomach acid level, which hinders the absorption of vitamin B12.
- Vitamin D:To increase vitamin D levels, in addition to getting enough exposure to sunlight to help your body produce the vitamin, you can consume fatty fish such as mackerel, tuna or salmon, or eat beef liver, egg yolks or cheese.
- Copper:Eat dark green leaves, potatoes, cocoa, yeast, black pepper, dried fruits, whole grains, shellfish, nuts, beans and organ meat.
- Iron:Have more green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, dried beans, eggs, lean red meat, liver, salmon, tuna, oysters and whole grains.
- The Vitamin Ais necessary for the production of fatty sebum, a natural hair conditioner that prevents it from drying and becoming brittle. It can be found in cod liver oil, eggs, orange / yellow fruits and vegetables such as carrots, as well as dark leafy vegetables and broccoli.
- The vitamin C, which helps the production of collagen needed for healthy growth of hair, is readily available in a variety of foods, including citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, red / green peppers, spinach, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, potatoes and more.
- The vitamin E protects hair from damage caused by the sun from the inside out and can be found in nuts, vegetable oils, seeds and green vegetables like spinach and broccoli.
- Antioxidants such as phenols, carotenoids and anthocyanins that can be found in foods and spices such as onions, garlic, turmeric, pomegranate, cranberries, spinach, broccoli and legumes help fight free radical damage. Age-related graying can also be delayed a bit by consuming these foods. Onions and garlic in particular can prevent graying. They contain sulfur compounds that strengthen the activity of natural antioxidants in the body and break down hydrogen peroxide. As we discussed earlier, hydrogen peroxide can discolor hair.
2. Protect Hair from Radiation:
If you are in a workplace where you may be exposed to radiation, use the appropriate protection. If your hair is suffering due to simple exposure to sunlight and damage related to UV radiation, then a hat or scarf to cover your hair so that it is not exposed directly can be a simple solution.
3. Stop Smoking:
Although smoking can increase your risk of becoming gray-haired early, you can reverse some of the damage before it is too late. As the researchers discovered, smokers who quit smoking were able to stop increasing the rate of aging over time and return to normal. This will also affect the graying, but it must be done before it is too late because the hair that becomes gray will remain that way.
4. Treat Hormonal Problems Naturally:
Ayurveda has a variety of remedies to treat hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid. By addressing this endocrine problem, you could also help you regain the balance of T3 and T4, the thyroid hormones that, among other things, modulate hair color.