People start going gray to different degrees and at different ages – it may occur slowly over many years or rapidly in life.
Melanin is responsible for determining hair and skin color and is present in the skin to varying degrees.
Its production depends upon appropriate nutrition and protein supplements. In most cases, a melanin deficiency is the leading cause of hair whitening.
Genetic & Autoimmune Disorders
If you have kwashiorkor (a form of severe protein malnutrition characterized by edema) or celiac disease, it leads to protein loss, affecting the melanocytes.
Note – kwashiorkor is most common in countries where there is a lack of food. If kwashiorkor does occur in the US, it can be a sign of an underlying condition, like HIV, as well as a sign of neglect, abuse, or fad diets.
Moreover, gray hair is common in alopecia areata (also known as spot baldness), an autoimmune skin condition that causes hair loss on the face, scalp, and other parts of the human body.
Vitamin D & B12 Deficiency
Vitamin D is occasionally called the “sunshine vitamin” since it is manufactured in your skin in response to sunlight. It is estimated that 1 billion people are deficient in vitamin D.
It has multiple roles in the body, helping to:
- influence the expression of genes involved in cancer development;
- maintain the health of teeth and bones;
- support cardiovascular health and lung function;
- aid diabetes management and regulate insulin levels;
- support the health of the brain, immune system, and nervous system.
Low blood levels of vitamin D have been associated with the following:
- severe asthma in children;
- cognitive impairment in older adults;
- increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
In addition, if your levels of vitamin D are deficient for a sustained period, you could be increasing your chances of going grey younger.
Vitamin B12, also referred to as cobalamin, is an essential vitamin which your body requires but cannot produce.
Vitamin B12 does a lot of things for the body. For instance, it helps make your DNA and your red blood cells. In addition, adequate vitamin B12 levels are vital to a healthy pregnancy.
- vision loss;
- problems walking;
- muscle weakness;
- nerve problems such as – tingling or numbness;
- shortness of breath;
- excessive intestinal gas;
- loss of appetite;
- heart palpitations;
- pale skin;
- a smooth tongue.
Also, there is a link between vitamin B12 deficiency and premature gray hair.
Tip – use of alcohol or nicotine can deplete vitamin B12 levels.
Smoking is not just bad for your overall health, but it negatively impacts the aging process. Also, it increases your chances of going grey.
Note – while the exact mechanism is not understood, researchers believe it is due to the free radicals’ oxidative stress.
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The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland in the neck, consisting of 2 lobes connected by an isthmus. The thyroid helps control many bodily functions, like metabolism.
An underactive or overactive thyroid can cause the body to produce less melanin.
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Excessive intake of chocolates, soda, candies, fried food (like French fries or onion rings), hamburgers, hot dogs, burritos, potato chips, and other junk foods induces a few health disorders that hamper the body’s capacity to produce melanin.
Race plays a role in the graying timeline, too.
For example, African-Americans tend to be 40 when graying begins, while whites usually notice gray strands around age 35.
Certain disorders such as – vitiligo (a disease that causes the loss of skin color in blotches), neurofibromatosis (a group of 3 conditions in which tumors grow in the nervous system), tuberous sclerosis (a genetic disorder affecting cellular proliferation, differentiation, and migration early in development), and Waardenburg syndrome (a genetic disorder which affects hair, skin, and eye pigmentation) may induce the loss of hair pigmentation.
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The harsh chemicals in the conditioner and shampoos are known to affect the production of the pigment negatively. Plus, they cause hair falls too.
For instance, hydrogen peroxide (a mild antiseptic commonly used on the skin to prevent infection of scrapes, minor cuts, and burns) is one such harmful chemical.
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The consequences of chronic stress may include:
- high blood pressure;
- change in appetite;
- sleep problems.
Also, chronic stress can cause the depletion of stem cells from the base of hair follicles in mice, according to a 2013 New York University study issued in Nature Medicine.
Note – you can reduce your stress by:
- meditation – meditation involves sitting in a relaxed position and focusing your mind on one though; sitting quietly for twenty minutes a day can really help with reducing your stress level;
- exercise – any physical activity increases the brain’s serotonin levels that combat the stress hormone cortisol;
- avoid using caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, binge eating, junk food, and other drugs as your main means for coping with stress;
- eating fresh fruits and veggies is really important;
- be grateful – developing an attitude of gratitude is a way of thinking positive, hence, reducing stress.
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Spiritual Meaning of Grey Hair
When the hair starts going grey, it also changes its structure.
It has been noticed that as long as a man’s hair doesn’t become grey, the man lives his own life. But as soon as the white hair starts to appear, the man begins to resonate with other people.
In other words, he lives not only his own life, but he is constantly resonating with others, living his life as well as the lives of the people he resonates with. Such a man becomes part of an informational network.
Images credit – Shutterstock
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