August 03, 2021
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It is normal for hair color to change, as people age. But white hair can appear at almost any time in life. Even teenagers and people in their 20s may notice strands of white hair.
The human body has millions of hair follicles or small sacs lining the skin. The follicles generate hair and color or pigment cells that contain melanin. Over time, hair follicles lose pigment cells, resulting in white hair color.
Let’s look at some common causes of prematurely white hair, along with ways to slow the graying process down or prevent it, in some instances.
CAUSES OF WHITE HAIR
There can be many causes besides age that result in a person’s hair turning white.
Any deficiencies of vitamin B6, B12, biotin, vitamin D, or vitamin E can contribute to premature graying.
One 2015 report in the journal Development notes various deficiency studies on vitamin D3, vitamin B12, and copper and their connection to graying hair. It finds nutritional deficiencies affect pigmentation, suggesting color can return with vitamin supplementation.
A 2016 study reported in the International Journal of Trichology looked to factors related to premature graying in young Indians under 25 years of age. It found low levels of serum ferritin, which stores iron in the body, vitamin B12, and the good cholesterol HDL-C were common in participants with premature hair graying.
Premature graying of a person’s hair is largely connected to genetics, according to a 2013 report in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology.
Race and ethnicity play roles, as well. Premature graying in white people can start as early as 20 years old, while a person can be as young as 25 years old among Asians, and 30 years in African-Americans populations, according to the same 2013 study.
While graying is mostly genetic, oxidative stress in the body may play a part when the process happens prematurely.
Oxidative stress causes imbalances when antioxidants are not enough to counteract the damaging effects of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage cells, contributing to aging and disease.
Too much oxidative stress can promote the development of diseases, including the skin-pigment condition vitiligo. Vitiligo may also turn the hair white due to melanin cell death or the loss of cell function.
Certain medical conditions
Some medical conditions, including autoimmune diseases, may increase a person’s risk for graying early. In fact, research published in 2008 showed a connection between hair abnormalities and thyroid dysfunction.
White hair is also common in alopecia areata, an autoimmune skin condition that causes hair loss on the scalp, face and other parts of the body. When the hair grows back, it tends to be white due to melanin deficiency.
One study from New York University, reported in Nature Medicine, finds that the cells responsible for hair color can be depleted when the body is under stress.
Other studies indicate that while stress may play a part, it is only a small part of a bigger picture where disease and other factors contribute.
A study from 2013 reported in the Italian Dermatology Online Journal, shows that smokers are 2 1/2 times more likely to start graying before age 30 as non-smokers.
A 2015 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology also demonstrated that smoking is linked to premature white hair in young men.
Chemical hair dyes and hair products
Chemical hair dyes and hair products, even shampoos, can contribute to premature hair graying. Many of these products contain harmful ingredients that decrease melanin.
Hydrogen peroxide, which is in many hair dyes, is one such harmful chemical. Excessive use of products that bleach hair will also eventually cause it to turn white.
PREVENTION AND REVERSING PREMATURE WHITE HAIR
If genetics or aging is the cause, nothing can prevent or reverse the process. However, treating graying hair could allow color pigmentation to return if the loss is due to a medical condition.
When diet and vitamin deficiencies are the cause of prematurely white hair, correcting these may reverse the problem or stop it from worsening.
Eating more antioxidants
A person’s diet plays a part in preventing white hair. A diet rich in antioxidants can reduce oxidative stress.
Antioxidant-rich foods include:
Anyone who has white hair resulting from a vitamin deficiency should consume more foods loaded with those vitamins.
For example, seafood, eggs, and meats are good sources of vitamin B12, and milk, salmon, and cheese are excellent sources of vitamin D.
Vitamin supplements that are available over the counter can also correct deficiencies.
Smoking has adverse effects on the body and contributes to white hair. And researchers have found a link between the habit and loss of hair pigmentation.
There are plenty of hair dyes on the market that cover white hair, but many of these contribute to premature graying and may cause allergic and adverse reactions.
Natural remedies offer an alternative to slow down hair-whitening without harming the body or causing further hair pigment damage.
With the right diagnosis and treatments, white hair progression can be stopped and reversed in some instances. A balanced diet and good hair care can also help. In some cases, however, the process is irreversible. Regular use of natural remedies may slow down and possibly reverse white hair. But everyone’s hair eventually starts to turn white, and the individual has to decide whether they are comfortable with the white or if they prefer to try and hold back what is a natural aging process.
Source: MEDICAL NEWS TODAY
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Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body. Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons. The uneven number allows them to easily react with other molecules. Free radicals can cause large chain chemical reactions in your body because they react so easily with other molecules. These
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