The hair on your head is not all the same color. The color of the hair shaft (the part you can see) is determined by two things: the amount of melanin (a pigment that gives hair its color) and the amount of eumelanin (black or brown) versus pheomelanin (red).
Tiny sacs called melanosomes contain eumelanin, which accounts for most brown and black hair. A lack of melanosomes creates blond hair. When melanosomes are plentiful, they look black.
The rate at which melanin is produced in hair follicles determines how fast it grows. In general, the more melanin a person has, the darker their hair will be. This explains why some people get premature grey hair, while others retain their original shade until they're quite old.
There's no denying that more and more Indians are going grey fast. It's become a fact of life for most of us, isn't it? And we've all read about the link between getting old and going grey. Grey hair, although a sign of being an adult and getting older, can then also be an embarrassing thing or rather a source of major concern. After all, wouldn't you be worried if you are starting to get grey hair especially in your very young age?
What causes grey hair?
We've all heard the saying 'you're as old as you feel', but what if your hair started going grey from it? There are many physical and environmental factors which could cause premature greying of hair, but do you know how many of these apply to you? Here is a breakdown of some of the reasons for grey hair.
- Toxins in Your Body
Did you know that your hair can absorb different kinds of chemicals and toxins from your body? Studies have shown that the average person has many toxic substances in their bodies. When you expose your hair to these toxins, they can gradually cause damage that leads to grey or white hair.
- Toxins from the Environment
Greying hair can be caused by exposure to toxins in the environment. These include cigarette smoke, car exhaust and other harmful gases. Of course, if you smoke or hang out near a lot of traffic fumes, this is probably already a well-known cause for greying hair.
Even though there are environmental factors that can lead to greying hair, heredity is still one of the biggest contributing factors to greying hair. If both or either of your parents had grey or white hair before they turned 30, then you have a much higher chance than others of having grey or white hair early on as well. This is because there is an increased amount of pigment-producing cells in people who have grey/white hair at an early age.
- Nutritional deficiencies
A lack of protein and other essential nutrients can lead to grey hair. Iron, zinc, folate and vitamin B12 are all important for healthy hair, and deficiencies in these nutrients can result in a loss of color.
Constant stress can cause grey hairs to appear at an early age, as the body uses the hair follicles as a release valve for excess hormones such as DHT (a derivative of testosterone).
- Poor circulation
Changes in blood flow to the scalp may cause premature greying in some people.
Certain medications, including those used to treat Parkinson's disease, hypertension and hyperthyroidism, can cause premature greying or much more rapid greying than would normally occur.
No matter what people say, grey hair isn’t cool. The problem is, things that cause grey hair aren’t usually cool either making it pretty hard to do anything about it. You need to address the root cause of the problem to deal with it effectively.
Thankfully there are some great ways to prevent it.
- Reduce stress
As we age, we produce more of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol restricts the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles. It also affects the production of melanin by hair cells (melanin is responsible for giving hair its colour), resulting in grey hair. You can reduce your stress levels with meditation, yoga, breathing exercises or any other activity that helps you relax.
- Take supplement
A deficiency in folic acid can cause grey hair; it's found in leafy green vegetables, broccoli, asparagus and whole grains. An excess of vitamin B6 can also lead to grey hair; it's found in liver, fish and whole grains. Try taking these supplements daily to see if your grey strands start disappearing!
- Eat foods rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants destroy free radicals that damage cells and DNA to help prevent cancer as well as premature aging. Foods rich in antioxidants include blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries and red grapes.
- Exercise regularly
Exercise improves your circulation which in turn helps stop the roots of your hair from turning grey.
Keeping fit will help you maintain your weight and keep your stress levels down both of which can contribute to grey hair
- Do not smoke
Smoking is one of the most common causes of premature grey hair as nicotine, a chemical found in cigarettes, reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your hair follicles, reducing the production of melanin which gives hair its color
- Limit exposure to sunlight
This is another common cause for premature greying of hair, so try to avoid direct sunlight and wear a hat or use sunscreen on your head.
So there you have it, our top ways to prevent greying hair. Many causes of grey hair are genetic and can’t be changed. However, there is a lot that you can do to make the most of your natural hair color and slow down the greying process so that your hair looks healthy and doesn’t turn grey too quickly.