Why does hair turn grey?

General Hair Loss

There are a couple of factors that causes a person’s hair to grey. The main reason a person’s hair turns grey, is simply because, as we age, the pigment cells in our hair follicles begin to diminish. Genetics ultimately determines the rate at which you will go grey, and at which you will begin to lose hair. Age may be the main cause of greying hair; however the greying of your hair can be prematurely onset through many other factors.

Stress can cause greying because of the psychological state it induces. There are certain hormones that determine the amount of melanin that gets deposited into the hair. These hormones are greatly impacted by your psychological state. So when you stress, it affects these hormones which causes a decline in production of melanin in your hair.

Melanin is a chemical that is produced by pigment cells just beneath the skin. Each and every single hair follicle contains melanocytes. These pigment cells produce eumelanin which is either black or dark brown of colour, and pheomelanin, which is a redder shade of brown. The melanocytes then send melanin to the cells causing the production of Keratin.

Keratin is the main protein that feeds your hair, whilst melanin is a pigment, granting colour. The production of this chemical is referred to as melanogenesis, and is stimulated by your DNA. Melanin is not only found in your hair, but also in your skin, in turn granting us the colour of our skin.

Stress can be greatly reduced through simple yet effective means such as meditation and exercise, in turn slowing the greying of your hair through the constant, healthy production of Melanin. Many tales have been told of hair turning grey due to a fright or shock. The greying of your hair caused by fright is a result of how stress affects your hormones, greying your hair faster than is natural.

There are many external factors which can also cause your hair to grey prematurely. Excessive exposure to the sun can damage your hair. The sun can lighten your hair but the true problem lies in the fact that the shafts of your hair follicles have no defence again the sun, causing extreme damage. The Sun produces UVA and UVB rays which also negatively affect your scalp. This damage can result in your hair greying quicker. Toxins and chemicals used in hair dye products can also damage the colour of your hair and onset early greying. Certain harmful chemicals used in poor quality hair care products damage the papilla, decreasing the quantity of melanin. There are many chemicals in use by cheaper, unsafe, hair care products that can both damage your hair and cause it to go grey quicker. Hydrogen peroxide is present in many hair dyes and is a great cause of premature grey hair. Products designed to bleach your hair will generally have a negative effect on the rate at which you begin going grey.

Other factors affecting the rate at which your hair turns grey include nutritional imbalance, poor blood circulation, and a lack of Vitamin B12, smoking, tooth whitening products, pollution, thyroid conditions and anaemia. Iron deficiency has been linked to both hair loss and the greying of hair, as is seen in people suffering from anaemia. Iron is essential to produce the proteins needed to feed your hair follicles, ensuring steady and healthy growth of your hair and the production of Melanin, holding your hair colour. Vitamin B12 is a great supplement to boost the production of Melanin. Studies undertaken in Sweden revealed that 64% of patients treated with Vitamin B12 supplements experienced the re-pigmentation of their hair, regaining their original colour. Smoking is a cause of many health related problems and the greying of hair is yet another negative affect of this habit. It has been shown that smokers are up to four times more likely to grey before their non-smoking counterparts. Despite the apparent lack of connection, even your toothpaste can make your hair turn grey quicker. Once again hydrogen peroxide is responsible for this degradation. Always ensure that your toothpaste does not contact hydrogen peroxide prior to purchase. Thyroid disorders, both under and overactive, disrupt the melanocytes in turn causing early greying of hair. Thyroid problems are not always easy to self-diagnose, however stress, altered T3 and T4 levels and depression are all signs of an underlying issue that can cause you to go grey early.

By living a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a nutritious diet high in iron, protection from the sun and correct evaluation of other possible health issues, you can often slow or even reverse the process of hair going grey. Melanin is directly proportional to the colour of your hair and as you may have noticed, most causes of greying hair are a result of the production or degradation of the Melanin and Melanin producing cells in your body.


Previous Post
Why do humans have hair?
Next Post
Body Hair and Hair Loss