What causes grey hair? Can it be prevented or treated?
One of the results of a lockdown during the current COVID-19 pandemic was that all hair parlours were closed down and those of us, why rely on their hair being dyed by professional hair stylists, were confronted with their grey hair again.
Which made me want to uncover the various reasons why people get grey hair (in my case it was mostly B12-deficiency and stress) and whether grey hair can be prevented and/or treated.
Hair gets its colour from a type of pigment called melanin. The formation of melanin begins in the fetus. Hair gets two types of pigments: the dark pigments are called eumelanin, and light pigments are called pheomelanin. These two types of melanin pigments blend together to form different types of hair colour. Again, these pigments are positioned properly in the hair follicles. So, when hair starts growing, these pigments are absorbed in the hair to give it a particular colour.Hair colouration is a systematized process. So, if there is a slight difference in the bodily system, the hair loses its colour which is then called as grey hair. Over the decades, the researchers are working hard to find a real solution for grey hair. Unfortunately, there is no specific remedy yet come out that can provide the ultimate solution against grey hair. On the other hand, people must have a clear understanding on why they get grey hair. It will help them to find out the reasons specific to grey hair. Here are some of the causes of grey hair:
- aging: due to hormonal changes, people get grey hair and hair loss while aging. It is natural for every person on the earth.
- lifestyle: it is another primary cause of grey hair, particularly among the younger generations. Due to higher stress, insomnia, tension, unhealthy eating, etc. people these days are lacking certain vitamins. This leads to early growth of grey hair.
- lack of pigments: growth of hair and hair pigmentation are two different things. Many people may have noticed that their hair is growing normally, but its greying early or growing without pigmentation. This happens due to deficiency of one or more vitamins and other nutrients.
Besides, there may be numerous other reasons behind this common problem like heredity, side-effects of medicines, diseases, pollution, and many such adversities.
The ABCDE of vitamins (and minerals) in hair health
Greying of hair takes place due to lack of pigmentation, which in turn signifies lack of proper functioning of the systems or organs that are responsible for pigmentation. Supplementing the body with proper vitamins can stop grey hair permanently.
Vitamin AVitamin A indirectly helps in ending early greying of hair. If the hair follicles are weakening, the growth of hair is severely disturbed. Formation of hair lingers, hair splits quite often, and some follicles are so weakened that the hairs are not formed from those follicles. All these conditions may also cause grey hair, which can be efficiently rectified with the help of vitamin A supplement.
Pantothenic Acid (B5)Pantothenic Acid plays a role in the development of hair colour. Maintaining proper levels of pantothenic acid can strengthen your hair follicles and their cells. This vitamin contributes to the nourishment of hair follicles, helping them to function properly and promote the growth of your hair. Adding pantothenic acid to the diet in the form of a supplement may reverse greying and/or prevent healthy hair from turning grey.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine/P5P)It is an extremely important water-soluble vitamin for healthy growth of hair follicles. Vitamin B6 helps in proper blood circulation, promoting cell repair, and increasing immunity of the body. Thus, users of this vitamin can notice a decrease in grey hair and healthy growth of hair on regular use of this vitamin.
Folate/folic acid (Vitamin B9)Deficiency of folic acid is associated with symptoms like slower growing hair as well as hair turning grey. This is mainly because folate metabolizes and create new proteins (including keratin and melanin). Deficiency of folic acid is more common among individuals who have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Correct supplement of Folic Acid is at least 400 Mcg.
Vitamin B12Everyone needs sufficient quantities of vitamin B12 to maintain healthy hair growth, and lessening greying of hair. This vitamin strengthens hair follicles and help to maintain a steady supply of pigments responsible for hair colour. People, who mostly eat vegetables or are completely vegetarian sometimes lack this vitamin, as it is mostly found in the most common non-vegetable food items like meat and fish. Dietary supplements can be taken to fulfill the deficiency of this vitamin to help reverse grey hair.
BiotinBiotin (or vitamine H) is important to hair health. Biotin deficiencies are often associated with premature grey hair. Biotin deficiencies can cause hair loss as well as thin, brittle and splitting hairs.
Although biotin deficiencies are rare, it is possible that low levels of biotin in the body might result in hair loss and greying of hair. Some of the functions ofbiotin in the body is the production of amino acids and cellular growth. Studies have shown supplementing with biotin can help to reverse grey hair to its natural colour.
PABAIt is thought that PABA can provide more noticeable results in terms of restoring hair colour when greying of hair was caused by deficiency of Vitamin B. Also, it is worthwhile to mention that it can provide better results when used in combination with folate, pantothenic acid (B5) and inositol.
Vitamin CThis vitamin is quite popular due to its wide-ranging functions, including antioxidation. It helps to normalize cell functions that are often disrupted due to free radicals. Formation of pigments and absorption of those pigments are often destabilized due to unhindered deposition of toxic products. Vitamin C is capable to reverse the problem of grey hair.
Vitamin DThis vitamin helps to strengthen hair, and increase the life span of hair. As hair gets more strength, pigments important for hair colour, i.e. eumelanin, and pheomelanin remain embedded in it strongly leading to less grey hair. Sun ray is the most authentic source of vitamin D; however, some supplements can also be taken to increase this vitamin in the body.
Vitamin EThe positive effects of vitamin E on the skin and hair are known to the experts for more than half a century. Vitamin E helps in cleaning toxic chemicals, repairing hair and hair follicles, and forming sufficient quantities of pigments. Thus, vitamin E supplementation is too important for reversing grey hair. This vitamin is fat soluble, so drinking sufficient quantities of water is necessary to wash out extra quantities of this vitamin from the body.
CopperCopper deficiency is a leading cause of grey hair according to key studies. Copper is an essential ingredient in the production of melanin. Fortunately only 1mg is needed to bring up copper levels to a normal range.
ZincGetting enough zinc in your diet is crucial. Zinc deficiencies are suspect of causing premature grey hair in at least one study. Correct supplementation is 10 mg of zinc. Most good zinc supplements are combined with copper.
Other supplements that can help prevent or reverse grey hair
CatalaseRecent scientific studies have shown that having low levels of Catalase in the body can cause hair to turn grey. Hydrogen peroxide cannot be processed when Catalase levels are low, causing an excess. The excess hydrogen peroxide bleaches the hair from the inside out, causing it to turn white or grey. Barley grass can be a supplemental source of catalase.
Nettle RootNettle root has multiple benefits to reverse grey hair and is one of the oldest treatments to combat hair loss. Not only does it combat dandruff and build immunity, it also helps to alleviate symptoms of urinary tract infection (UTI).
Saw PalmettoPalmetto berries were used by Native Americans to reverse hair loss and remedy bladder infections. A study showed palmetto as also being effective to treat enlarged prostate in men.
Glutathione-boosting supplements for grey hair
Although catalase production that breaks down hydrogen peroxide in the body slows with age, it's not the only enzyme that can do the job. Glutathione — produced by the liver — is considered to be a master antioxidant for the body. Glutathion production slows with age though.
Outside glutathione supplements, another rich source of glutathione is (grass-fed) whey protein.
Yet more natural remedies?
AutophagyCells use the process to rid themselves of damaged proteins and organelles, and stimulate growth hormones at the same time to complete the cellular renovation. Autophagy can help decrease inflammation in the body, and reduce levels of hair-bleaching hydrogen peroxide.
Fasting or intermittent fasting is one of the best ways to turn on 'autophagy'.
The level of glucagon that stimulates the process goes down every time you eat and insulin takes over. Just like a see-saw, when you fast and insulin levels go down, glucagon increases and starts the autophagy process. Don't overdo fasting — getting plenty of good nutrition is key to providing your body with what it needs to build healthy, more youthful cells.
Onion juiceOnion, being rich in the catalase enzyme, is used as a topical remedy for grey hair since ages. A buildup of hydrogen peroxide in the hair follicles and in the scalp can result in hair thinning and premature grey hair.
Using the juice of onion can be used to remove hydrogen peroxide buildup, help in providing nourishment to regenerate the hair follicles and also help in reversing gray hair naturally.
In order to use onion juice to reverse premature graying of hair, apply the juice of onions to your scalp regularly and massage it lightly and then leave it on the scalp for 30 minutes to 60 minutes and then wash it off.
Black teaBlack tea can also help you in reversing grey hair naturally. It actually stains your hair and thus darkens it and also adds shine to your hair. For using this as a remedy, you require 2 teaspoon of black tea leaves and a cup of water. You need to boil black tea leaves in water and allow it steep for 2 minutes and then set the solution to cool, after which you can apply it to your hair and allow it to stand for at least 30 minutes before you rinse your hair. Make sure not to use shampoo.
Coconut oilCoconut oil can be used for treating a lot of hair-related problems, such as greying of hair, balding, dandruff and lice. This works great because of the presence of capric and caprylic acids in the oil that has antioxidant properties and acts as disinfectants. In addition, the low molecular weight of coconut oil allows for easy penetration of the hair shaft.
For using this as a remedy, just apply a small amount of the coconut oil directly onto your hair or mix it into your shampoo and leave it for 30 minutes.
ConclusionSo, we now know that grey hair can be reversed naturally if you manage appropriate diet, which helps in improving hair health, avoid diet which are harmful for hair health and take the essential remedies for reversing greying of hair naturally.
Above all, it must be noted that keeping stress free or avoiding excess of stress can help in reversing grey hair caused due to stress over time.