One day you wake up, ready to face the day. You start brushing your hair and – scream! Do you have your first white or gray hairs and you’re not even 30 years old yet? Let’s dig why that happens!
Is Turning Hair White Normal?
Graying hair is part of the natural passage of time for both men and women and usually starts around age 35. As people get old, the cells that produce melanin (the pigment that gives hair its color) stop working as they used to, making your hair lose its color.
You can’t avoid it – sooner or later, all of us will have white hair. However, women tend to be bothered by this phenomenon, especially when it happens early.
Genetics can be blamed for it since it does directly cause it. But what if no one in your family went white hair early? There are other 3 reasons why your hair might be losing its pigmentation before you turn 30. Do you want to know why your hair is turning white too early? Here are the three key reasons for that.
Understanding the problem
The scientific explanation for hair turning white before age 30 is that some people have an alteration on the IRF4 gene, which regulates melanin production.
This issue is clinically called canities. It is caused by the slowing activity of the enzyme tyrosinase. That causes the aging of melanocytes, which produce two types of melanin: pheomelanin (of red and blonde hair) and eumelanin (of brown and black hair).
How can you tell if you have cavities? Just check the age range of natural greying, which should occur according to the lowering of tyrosinase in your body. According to studies, you suffer from canities if you are greying before these ages:
- CAUCASIAN: 35 to 45 years old.
- ASIAN: 45 to 55 years old.
- AFRICAN: After 55 years old.
Why Does Your Hair Turning White?
1. Vitamin B12 deficiency
A study done by Indian scientists in 2023 showed that the deficiency of vitamin B12 (also called cobalamin) might be connected to early greying of the hair.
The data backing this information isn’t yet concrete, but it suggests there is a relation between the lack of B12 and the loss of pigment on the hair. The proliferation of hair follicle cells depends on DNA synthesis, which depends on vitamin B12. This vitamin also helps with hair growth.
That is why it’s important to include in your diet B12-rich foods, such as:
- Cooked liver;
- Cooked salmon;
- Steamed shellfish;
- Cooked chicken liver;
- Cooked oysters;
- Cooked herring;
- Cooked heart;
- Grilled trout;
- Peanut butter;
- Soy-based products.
Just like with our skin, cigarette consumption also causes the early aging of the hair. The influence of tobacco on hair greying is still being studied, but scientists believe it is connected to the formation of free radicals. These radicals damage cells that produce melanin, which gives hair its color.
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If you suspect that your stressful daily life is also linked to your new grey hairs, you are right! Some scientists defend this reason and others disagree, but the scientific community has generally found proof of that.
For example, a 2013 study by New York University showed that mice in stressful situations had a significant increase in white hairs.
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That would be the result of melanin-producing cells leaving their original location (at the base of the hair follicle), and there were no substitutes to produce the substance that gives color to the hair. This movement would be caused by stress hormones, such as adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).
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However, it has also been proven that the individual needs a genetic predisposition to have early gray hairs caused by stress. This means that the main reason for graying hair before age 35 is still family heritage.
4. Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is when antioxidants are not enough to counteract free radicals causing damaging effects. When there is too much oxidative stress, it can promote vitiligo, which can turn hair white.
Eating foods with antioxidants can help combat free radicals. All berries are a great source of antioxidants.
5. Iron Deficiency
Some studies show iron deficiency can contribute to hair turning white. Check with your health practitioner to test your iron levels and potential supplements that could resolve the issue.
6. Chemical Hair Dyes and Products
Using hair dyes, particularly those that contain hydrogen peroxide, or bleaching hair excessively will eventually cause hair to turn white due to the decrease in melanin.
7. Low Levels of Copper
Low copper levels can also lead to premature graying. You can increase your intake of copper by eating foods such as lentils, almonds, dark chocolate, and spirulina.
Natural Remedies for White Hair
Natural remedies to slow down hair-whitening include using herbs soaked in oil and applying them to the scalp, such as:
- Curry leaves: Curry leaves help to retain dark hair color.
- Bhringraj: Bhringraj leaves are available in oil form and are known to darken hair.
- Indian gooseberry or amla: Amla can be found in powder form and mixed with coconut oil. It is recognized for promoting pigmentation due to being rich in antioxidants and anti-aging properties.
- Black tea: Steeping a few bags in boiling water, cooling, and adding to clean wet hair can also cover some white hairs. It can also be mixed with conditioner, left in the hair for at least an hour, and then rinsed out.
Another helpful hair mixture is almond oil and lemon juice at a ratio of 2:3. Massage the mixture into the scalp and let sit for about 30 minutes before rinsing off.
Almond oil is highly beneficial for hair due to its vitamin E content. In addition, it prevents graying and nourishes the roots. Lemon juice promotes healthy growth and adds volume and gloss.
A final suggestion for a hair treatment combines onion juice, lemon juice, and olive oil. Mix two teaspoons of onion juice, one teaspoon of lemon juice, and one teaspoon of olive oil. This mixture helps darken the hair and promotes growth. Massage the mixture onto the scalp, let it sit for 30 minutes, and wash out.
No, if whitening is due to genetics, you can not prevent it. Possibly, if your hair is turning white because of other reasons such as stress, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, or smoking. If so, there are various remedies you can try.
Yes. Including almonds in your diet can help stop premature graying due to being rich in copper, protein, and vitamin E.
Yes, all types of stress – mental, emotional, physiological- can cause the hair to turn white.
No, if genetics is the cause of whitening and the hair follicles have lost melanin. Possibly, if there are nutritional deficiencies or underlying health conditions that you can treat.
For example, studies show how nutritional deficiencies affect pigmentation. These studies suggest that color can return with vitamin supplementation.
You want to look for food rich in antioxidants, B6, B12, biotin, vitamin D, vitamin E, copper, and serum ferritin (iron).
● Antioxidants: Fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and olive oil are great foods for antioxidants.
● Biotin: Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi will increase your biotin and B vitamins intake.
● B vitamins: Chicken and lentils are rich sources. Eggs, seafood, and meats have good B12.
● Iron and copper: Liver, in particular, is rich in iron, protein, B12, and copper.
● Vitamin D: You can find vitamin D in cheese, milk, and salmon.
● Vitamin E: Avocados, spinach, and sunflower seeds provide vitamin E.