Heredity is just one of several potential causes for prematurely gray hair. In cases where early graying hair is not related to genes, there are remedies for premature gray hair that can halt its progression. Clinical studies using mice have seen success in reversing gray hair due to nutritional deficiencies. Choosing the right remedy for premature gray hair will depend upon its root cause. Making an appointment with a health care professional for a complete physical is a smart first step in finding that root cause, as underlying health problems can be discovered, like a nutritional deficiency or hormonal imbalance.
One of the easiest causes of premature gray hair to address is daily diet. Deficiencies in specific vitamins and minerals may cause hair to turn gray. Diets lacking in biotin and folic acid, part of the B vitamin complex, can be a direct cause of gray hair, as noted in information from the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Copper deficiency, according to Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute, has also been found to cause premature graying, as can a lack of selenium. A broad range of other nutrients have an indirect influence, affecting the production of hormones and acting to destroy free radicals. Choosing a diet made up of nutrient rich foods, with plenty of vitamin and mineral packed foods, including leafy deep green vegetables, dark orange vegetables and fruits, berries, nuts, and lean proteins, and avoiding processed foods and convenience foods can bring gray to a halt.
There are cases in which changing the diet may not be enough. Some medical conditions interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, as do some prescription medications. Furthermore, foods grown in soil that has suffered mineral depletion may not be able to provide all that the body needs. In these circumstances, it may not be possible to obtain all the necessary nutrients from diet alone, which can contribute to premature graying of the hair, making supplements necessary. However, because too much of some nutrients, including B vitamins, copper, and selenium, can be as detrimental to the health, if not more so, than too little, it is a good idea to plan supplementation with the assistance of a professional nutritionist, after a detailed discussion with the primary health care provider.
Exercise can help to stimulate the hormone action needed to produce the melanin that gives hair its pigmentation, as well as promote the circulation that delivers oxygen and nutrients to the scalp. Furthermore, while researchers have not yet found a direct link between stress and gray hair, there is clinical evidence of an indirect relationship, according to a Scientific American article citing recent research. The indirect relationship between stress and gray hair relates to the damage that stress does to the body, including affecting nutrient absorption, appetite, and energy levels. There is, however, solid evidence that exercise helps to relieve the symptoms of stress. Exercise also helps people to sleep more soundly and good sleep aids in the production of hormones that can affect hair color, as well.
- Scientific American: Fact or Fiction, Stress Causes Gray Hair?
- The New York Times: Unlocking the Secrets of Gray Hair
- US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health: B Vitamins
- National Institute of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets
- The Mayo Clinic, Stress Management: Rev Up Your Routine to Reduce Stress