Can premature Greying be reversed
If aging or genetics is the only cause of hair graying, this natural process cannot be reversed.

The answer is actually quite convoluted; if aging or genetics is the only cause of hair graying, this natural process cannot be reversed. This is due to the pigment cells within the hair follicles (melanocytes) dying on their own. There is no way to bring them back.

However, if your graying hair is the direct result of a medical problem, there may be hope for restoring the natural pigment in your hair. Graying of the hair can occur at any age. Hair graying remains one of the most puzzling aspects of the aging process, but scientists are piecing together how our hair begins to turn gray.

  • Several studies have reported favorable results, but further study is needed.
  • The majority of research indicates that eating vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables and avoiding stress may aid with premature graying.
  • The majority of people notice their first gray hair in their 30s or late 20s, and studies report that this is when the process is most reversible.
  • People who are older and may already have a full head of gray hair are unlikely to benefit even if they reduce psychological stress in their lives.
  • Whether gray hair will be reversible depends on the underlying cause.

Coloring gray hair is one of the most prevalent techniques to treat it. Many hair coloring products are available in the market, and they can be used to change the pigment of your hair to its natural shade or a more glamorous hue if necessary.

Many hair oils are used to maintain the overall luster and strength of your hair's color, and they can be used in conjunction with hair coloring treatments.

7 factors that are liable for premature graying

Natural hair color is determined by the pigment melanin, which is produced in cells known as melanocytes. Melanogenesis is a process that is fueled by the enzyme tyrosinase. When hair begins to gray, tyrosinase activity slows, the number of active melanocytes decreases and there are fewer healthy pigment granules inside them.

  1. Aging:
    • Graying hair, like all other signs of aging, has been linked to free radicals. Hair follicles are particularly vulnerable to free radical damage.
    • Oxidative stress generated by the hair-making process inside the follicle is significant.
    • Researchers discovered that gray hair follicles exhibited very high levels of oxidative stress and clear signs of apoptosis (cell death) of the melanocytes that give us our hair color.
  2. Nutritional causes:
    • Lack of the following nutrients in the diet may cause graying of hair:
      • Calcium
      • Iron
      • Vitamin B12
      • Folate
      • Vitamin D3
  3. Environmental and behavioral:
    • Below are all the risk factors for premature gray hair:
      • Excessive physical activity
      • Excessive sunlight exposure
      • Air pollution
      • Smoking
      • Fasting frequently or eating a very low-calorie diet
      • Staying awake all night or having an irregular sleeping schedule
  4. Psychological:
    • These psychological risk factors may aggravate premature gray hair:
      • Anger
      • Fear
      • Grief
      • Stress
  5. Genetics:
    • If parents or close relatives have prematurely gray hair, the problem may be in the genes because premature graying is inherited as an autosomal dominant characteristic.
  6. Hormones:
  7. Chemicals:
    • The use of harsh coloring products, which include hydrogen peroxide and can bleach out the hair follicles and turn white when used excessively, may contribute to premature gray hair.

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Conditions associated with premature graying

A great majority of gray-haired adults experience age-related graying. Graying hair can, however, be an indication of a serious illness, especially if it appears at a young age.

Premature graying of hair can be caused by various health issues, including:

  • Neurofibromatosis or von Recklinghausen’s disease: This set of hereditary illnesses causes tumors to form along nerves and can result in improper bone and skin development.
  • Tuberous sclerosis: A rare, genetic disorder that results in benign tumors in numerous organs (including the brain, heart, kidneys, eyes, lungs, and skin) can sometimes cause gray hair as a symptom.
  • Thyroid disease: As discussed above, any hormonal imbalance may trigger graying of hair. Both hypo and hyperthyroid conditions can lead to graying of hair.
  • Vitiligo: Melanocytes (the cells at the base of hair follicles that produce color) are lost or damaged in this illness, possibly, because the immune system "misfires" and targets the scalp.
  • Alopecia areata: A condition in which patches of hair, particularly colored (nongray) hair, fall out suddenly. This might result in overnight graying because previously present gray or white hair becomes more visible. When hair growth begins, it may be white or gray at first, but colored hair may return later.

The primary reason for premature hair graying in a young population, according to studies, is hereditary. However, environmental factors, vitamin, and mineral deficiencies, and diseases have all been linked to this problem.

Treatment options for premature graying

Table. Premature graying causes and treatment options
Hair graying causes Hair graying treatment options
Genetic Hair colorants
Medical conditions such as vitiligo Hair colorants
Aging Hair colorants
Psychological and behavioral causes Calming therapies such as meditation with vitamin supplementation
Hormonal imbalances Hormone replacement therapy and supplements
Vitamin or nutritional deficiencies Vitamin replacement or supplements therapies with prescribed diet from a nutritionist
Side effects of medications Lower the dose or change the medication as per the doctor’s advice
Any other rare or serious conditions Treating underlying cause

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Which nutrients can prevent or reverse gray hair?

A few studies have reported that a proper mix of vitamins and minerals may be able to help halt or even reverse this process. This can only occur if nutrient deficiency, and not aging or genetics, has caused graying of hair.

Folic acid or folate:

  • This B vitamin is frequently utilized to promote hair growth and has an important function in hair color.
  • It aids in the repair of hair follicle cells and prevents hair loss; folate works to keep your strands from turning gray.

To reap the benefits, make sure you're receiving enough folate in your diet, which is found in:

  • Kale
  • Beets
  • Green peas
  • Brussels
  • Sprouts
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Poultry

Vitamin B5:

  • This micronutrient from the B vitamin family works well for hair.
  • At the scalp level, it is responsible for various functions such as growth, hydration, and inflammation relief. 
  • B5 is involved in melanin formation, which is why it helps prevent gray hair. It not only prevents gray hair but also restores natural hair color.

Vitamin B5 can be found in:

  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Eggs
  • Cauliflower
  • Leafy greens

Copper:

  • This mineral plays a crucial role in preventing hair from becoming gray too soon.
  • Copper aids in hair growth and strength, and when our levels fall, we might get brittle hair that turns gray quickly.

Copper is found in:

  • Leafy greens
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Pistachios
  • Dried apricots
  • Figs

Iron:

  • This mineral is essential for healthy hair in general. Because of the blood loss that occurs during menstruation, many women are iron deficient, making iron insufficiency the most frequent deficit in the world.
  • Low iron levels can harm your hair, causing everything from delayed growth to thinning, hair loss, and premature graying.

Food sources that are rich in iron include:

  • Spinach
  • Eggs
  • Peaches
  • Kale
  • Red meat
  • Beans
  • Liver

Calcium:

  • Calcium, in addition to being an important mineral in our bones, is an important component of our hair.
  • A study conducted on individuals younger than 30 years with prematurely gray hair reported a negative link between calcium and iron levels and gray hair.
  • Calcium (together with iron and copper) supplementation slowed and reversed the progression of premature gray hair.

Food sources that are rich in calcium include:

  • Kale
  • Parsley
  • Salmon
  • Dairy products
  • Walnuts
  • Cabbage

Zinc:

  • Zinc is another mineral that affects the entire hair-building process.
  • When zinc levels in the diet are low, hair development slows, and shedding, thinning, brittleness, and color loss begin.

Zinc-rich foods include:

  • Fish
  • Pork
  • Pumpkin seeds

Vitamin D:

  • Vitamin D, which kick-starts the growth phase of the hair cycle, is frequently found to be deficient in people with alopecia. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to premature gray hair.
  • Our body will produce its vitamin D if we get enough sunlight. However, for people who live in regions with less sunlight, this is insufficient, especially if they have medium to dark skin, which protects them from the sun. To avoid deficiency, it is critical to consume vitamin D through diet or supplements.

Best food sources of vitamin D include:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Dairy products
  • Oily fish such as mackerel or salmon
  • Eggs
  • Mushrooms
  • Yeast

Vitamin B12:

  • Vitamin B12 is required for protein synthesis and the formation of red blood cells, and it is regarded by scientists to have an important function in the hair follicle.
  • Studies report that vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiency can lead to premature gray hair.

Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in animal products such as:

  • Poultry
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Eggs

Methionine:

  • This is an essential amino (L-methionine) that is essential for keratin (the protein in hair) formation.
  • It prevents the emergence of gray hair by combating oxidative stress.

L-methionine and other important amino acids can be found in protein-rich foods such as:

  • Legumes
  • Pistachios
  • Peanuts
  • Dairy
  • Whole grains
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Chicken

Biotin:

  • Studies report that biotin supplements can make hair thicker and stronger. Research suggests that biotin deficiency may play a role in premature graying.

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Should you get nutrients from food or supplements?

In general, minerals and vitamins are easier for your body to absorb when they are found naturally in foods. That is why ensuring a good intake of some of the healthful, micronutrient-rich foods listed above is critical to slowing or reversing gray hair.

Nonetheless, many hair scientists and doctors advocate vitamins to treat graying hair. Before you start consuming supplements, you should be tested for deficiencies. Only a few nutrients have been regularly shown to prevent or reduce the onset of gray hair in supplement form.

It is not feasible to reverse white hair if the cause is genetic despite promises made online and by product marketers. Hair follicles can't create melanin on their own once they've lost it. Hair turns gray as melanin production slows and then turns white when melanin production is fully stopped.

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Medically Reviewed on 3/8/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

Quantitative mapping of human hair greying and reversal in relation to life stress: https://elifesciences.org/articles/67437

Premature Graying of Hair: Review with Updates: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6290285/

Human Hair Graying is Naturally Reversible and Linked to Stress: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.18.101964v1.full

Age-induced hair greying – the multiple effects of oxidative stress: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ics.12090