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What Causes White Hair at a Young Age?

author image Cynthia Myers
Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University.
What Causes White Hair at a Young Age?
What Causes White Hair at a Young Age? Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Most people's hair turns grey or white as they age, as the hair follicles cease to produce melanin, the pigment that gives hair its color. But some people start seeing their first white hairs before they're even out of their thirties. Having white hair at a young age can make you stand out from the crowd, but in a few cases it may signal a more serious problem.


If your mother or father's hair turned white at an early age, you may be genetically programmed for premature graying. Your genes determine when production of melanin stops, and your DNA may destine you to platinum hair at an early age.

Vitamin Deficiency

Premature graying could be a sign of a vitamin deficiency, especially a lack of Vitamin B. If you eat a balanced diet and don't suffer from malnutrition, you may have pernicious anemia. In this form of anemia, your body is unable to absorb Vitamin B-12 from the bloodstream. Consult your doctor. If you test positive for pernicious anemia, you can have regular injections of B-12 to counteract the deficiency.

Thyroid Disorder

If your thyroid fails to produce enough thyroid hormone, you suffer from hypothyroidism. One side effect of hypothyroidism may be prematurely graying hair, according to the University of Michigan Health System. A blood test can diagnose hypothyroidism and you can take medication to make up for the hormone your body doesn't produce naturally.


When Dr. J. G. Mosley studied patients in the Leigh Infirmary in Lancashire, England in 1996, he noticed a correlation between the patient's smoking history and the onset of graying hair or hair loss. Though Dr. Mosley could not prove that smoking caused gray hair, he did note that the smokers in his survey turned gray at an earlier age.

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