Gray hair nowadays is a trend. People pay lots of money in the hair salon to obtain that granny hair. But what about those who get gray hair naturally and at a young age.
This is not a serious condition, but it can affect your self-esteem. Some say it is a sign of wisdom.
It is different for every individual, and it seems that it runs in families. Some people try to mask this and use different methods for that, while some just accept it. But is gray hair inevitable and is it genetic?
For years people thought that is only genetic. But is that the case? The new studies say different.
Hair Growth and Its Process of Pigmentation
In order to understand the process of gray hair, you need to know the way your hair grows and obtains its color. The human hair goes through 3 cycles.
The first one is known as anagen, i.e., the growth phase; the second one is catagen, i.e., the resting phase and the last and third one is known as telogen, i.e., the dormant phase.
The hair follicle produces pigment to color your hair, and this happens in the first phase, i.e., anagen when your hair grows.
In fact, every hair at the beginning is white, and then it obtains its color by melanin which is a natural pigment. Melanocytes are the cells that actually produce melanin, and they transfer it to each hair follicle, and it colors every strand of hair.
And as time passes by and our candles on the birthday cake increasein number at the same time the activity of the melanocytes cells slows and stops which causes less pigment in our hair.
Along with genetics, other factors can speed the graying process such as environmental pollutants and hormones. And with every decade after you turn 30, the chances of getting gray hair increases from 10 to 20 %.
Discovered Gene That is Connected to Graying Hair
The exact reason for melanin to reduce and our hair to turn gray is maybe this gene. In fact, an international team of researchers found the gene that is connected to gray hair.
In this study, there is genome-wide association scan with around 6.000 Latin American to find genes that are linked to facial hair, features of scalp hair such as eyebrow thickness, graying, unibrow or monobrow, balding and beard thickness.
This gene was previously linked to blonde hair in Europeans. But apparently it is also linked to gray hair, and this gene is accounted for 30 % of the participants in this study.
The remaining 70 % are probably related to factors like stress, age, environment and more. These researchers plan to find a way to manipulate the genetic pathway somehow and in that way prevent the gray hair.
But for that, we are just going to wait and see.
When Does Gray Hair Appear?
Prematurely gray stands for those people that turn gray in their 20s. Ethnicity also has a role here. In fact, the Caucasians experience prematurely gray hair more often in comparison to African-Americans.
Also, you have probably heard about people that turn gray overnight. This is called canities subita. Most people believe that the only reason for this to happen is a high amount of stress. But for that, no one is 100 % sure.
What Can Cause Premature Graying of Hair
Nowadays scientists believe that this condition is linked to lifestyle factors and environmental pollution. According to the director of Premier Dermatology from San Francisco, dermatologist Dr.Marie Jhin there are 6 different factors:
- Medical Condition
Some medical conditions can contribute to gray hair. Those conditions are pituitary gland problems or thyroid disease. Or certain problems with hair follicles can trigger particular condition such as alopecia when the hair falls.
Also, vitiligo can cause certain patches of skin to change color. Dr. Marie Jhin says that autoimmune is when your cells attack your body. In case your body attacks your hair cells, you may turn gray.
- Vitamin Deficiency
This is related to premature gray hair – to be more precise vitamin B12 deficiency. Also, particular problems increase the risk of Crohn’s disease your body is not able to absorb it, taking birth control or other medications, or having had a gastric bypass surgery.
Smokers are not aware that their habit can contribute to premature gray hair. There is a link between premature graying, aging and also smoking.
- Lack of the Sunshine Vitamin
Yes, lack of sun can lead to premature gray hair. That is like that because your hair follicles contain vitamin D in them and without this vitamin, your hair starts to lose color.
But bear in mind, that it is important to get sunlight on your skin and not your hair. Because your skin is the one that absorbs vitamin D.
Dr. Maria Jihn believes that these factors contribute more to your hair color than the genes. But, in case you notice premature gray hair, and that is not something usual in your family, you should consult your doctor just be safe.
- Hydrogen Peroxide
The hydrogen peroxide is known as a tool that bleaches the hair. However, many people do not know that the hair cells also produce hydrogen peroxide.
As you get older, the amount of hydrogen peroxide increases and that is when researchers believe that your hair beings to turn gray.
- Oxidative Stress
Contrary to popular belief, there is still no sure evidence that stress can cause gray hair. There is an only possible link.
One study from New York University researched mice and concluded that stress could deplete stem cells from the hair follicles, but still, there is nothing precise that shows that stress can affect the color of your hair.
Oxidative stress is the state when the free radicals (from stress, pollution, poor diet, etc.) outnumber the antioxidant defenses ( those from healthy diet). And the result from all that is gray hair.
According to research people with prematurely gray hair have lower levels of antioxidants and higher levels of pro-oxidants in comparison to those people with normal hair.
Premature Gray Hair – Indicator of Health Issues?
By now you have probably understood that premature gray hair happens primarily because of your genes. Which means if someone from your family turned gray at an early age there is a high chance you will go through the same thing.
However, there are some speculations that premature gray hair can be an indicator of particular health issues. For example, it is believed that is associated with obesity, and it is thought to be a risk marker for osteopenia.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism published research which shows that people with premature gray hair were actually 4.4. times likely to experience osteopenia in comperison to those people that do not experience premature graying.
According to researchers the connection between low bone mass and premature graying could be linked to genes that have control over the peak bone mass or certain factors that regulate the bone and its turnover.
Vitiligo, thyroid disorders, and anemia are also connected to premature graying and with an increased risk of CAD, i.e., coronary artery disease in smokers who are young.
Food Affects Your Premature Graying of Hair
Catalase is a powerful, antioxidant enzyme that is found in animal and plant cells and breaks down the hydrogen peroxide. That is why scientists think it can help slow or maybe stop the gray hair from developing.
We already mentioned that the hydrogen peroxide increases as time passes by. By consuming foods that high in catalase we will introduce the fighting enzyme into our bodies and that will lead to the gradual return of hair pigmentation through a natural and safe process.
Foods that are high in catalase are cabbage, garlic, kale, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, and potatoes.
Hair Color Minerals – Zinc and Copper
We know that melanin gives pigmentation to the hair. Copper is crucial for melanin and its production. Walnuts are abundant in copper, in fact, one cup has 93 % of DRI, i.e., Dietary Reference Intake.
It is believed that walnuts can increase blood flow to your scalp and head and that is how your hair will grow more rapidly.
One study found that low levels of copper can make you go gray faster. Foods abundant in copper are spinach, sesame seeds, asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, and cashews.
Researchers made a study that measures the amounts of iron, copper, and zinc in the blood of 66 participants that were under 20 years old.
These participants had premature graying of hair, and the researchers found that their concentrations of copper were far lower in comparison to people in the same age who did not have gray hair.
According to experts zinc can help retain your original color of hair. There is zinc in shrimp and prawns. And it is important how you are going to consume it.
For example, 3 ounces of a raw version of prawn and shrimp contains 9 % of DRI, and the cooked version has 6 % of the DRI. You can also find zinc in sesame and pumpkin seeds. Always opt for wild-caught shrimp.
Scientists and Potential Remedies for Gray Hair
Researchers believe that they are very close to finding a potential remedy for gray hair. The scientists from Langone Medical Centar at New York University isolated the Wnt protein.
This protein coordinates the pigmentation of the melanocytes and another type of stem cell that acts as a guide of how the hair follicles develop. The researchers inhibited Wnt protein in black mice, and after that, they turned gray.
Researchers believe that maybe the combination of this protein and hair care products may help. Also, researchers found that UVB activated compound known as PC-KUS can help reverse the build up of hydrogen peroxide and in that way treat gray hair.
This treatment also can help restore skin color in people that have vitiligo. The search for some type of remedy for gray hair says that this is a condition that needs solving.
3 Natural Home Remedies
- Onion Juice
It is said that onion juice is an excellent natural remedy for premature graying and thinning hair. The onion juice actually promotes the production of catalase.
How to Prepare and Use
Blend onion and strain the mixture from the juice. Take the juice and put it on the scalp. You need to massage your scalp and leave it like that for half an hour.
After that wash your hair as you normally do. In order to obtain results, you need to do this on a daily basis for a couple of weeks.
- Black Tea
Black tea is known to help darken your hair and contribute for that wanted glow.
How to Prepare and Use
In a pot, put a cup of water and boil 2 tsp. of black tea and 1 tsp. of salt. Remove it from the stove for a couple of minutes and let it cool.
Use this mixture to rinse your hair. Do this couple of times. The last time you do that, leave it from 15 to 20 minutes. Wash the hair only with cold water, avoid shampoo.
In order to obtain results do this twice per week. Another alternative for darker hair is to add ground coffee in your store-bought conditioner.
- Sage and Rosemary
These herbs darken your hair naturally.
How to Prepare
In 2 cups water boil half of cup of dried rosemary and half a cup of sage. Leave it for a couple of hours. Make sure to strain the solution.
You can use this mixture as a hair rinse after you finish shampooing. Let it stay on your hair for 15 to 20 minutes and then wash your hair. To obtain results, you need to this every week.
You are now aware that the biggest role in premature graying of hair have the genes. However, that does not mean that other factors do not contribute to gray hair.
Now you are aware that you can treat your hair and know what you have to do and have influence on the color of your hair.