Some men and women look great with gray hair. In fact, it’s been trendy for the last several years to have a full head of gray hair.
But what if you have just a few and feel like they just make you look old? Is it possible to delay the appearance of gray hair or even reverse it once it starts happening? Maybe… if you’re a mouse.
Research has shown that certain nutritional supplements can help hair that turned gray grow back in its original color. But so far there’s no evidence that it will work in humans. So, the best option is to delay getting gray hair in the first place.
Can You Delay Hair Graying?
Like many things about our hair, when it starts to turn gray is both a factor of age and a factor of genetics.
For most people, that means they start going gray at about 50 – but it can begin as early as your 30s if you are genetically predisposed to gray hair. And in some cultures, that can be devastating.
Researchers have found that in many Asian cultures premature graying can have psychosocial effects – ranging from decreased self-confidence to loss of job opportunities and poor social treatment. In essence, these cultures tend to associate gray hair with a loss of vitality and frailness which makes the gray-haired person less desirable as an employee.
In addressing these social issues, researchers sought to find the causes of premature graying.
While some of the factors are genetic, they also found links to diet. That is, people who lacked certain nutrients (or had lower levels of those nutrients) appeared to go gray sooner. Specifically, diets lower in Vitamin B12, biotin, and folic acid usually resulted in gray hair at a younger age.
In fact, malnutrition is definitely a factor in hair color change: “Malnourishment, both in the form of micronutrient deficiency as well as gross protein malnutrition, has been reported to induce a change in hair color from a darker to a lighter shade. This is amply demonstrated in cases with intermittent protein malnutrition, which leads to the “flag” sign of kwashiorkor (signe de la bandera) characterized by alternating white (abnormal) and dark bands along the individual hair shafts,” researchers said.
How Can I Prevent Gray Hair at an Early Age?
Eating well is one of the few things people can control about the quality and color of their hair.
Everyday Health suggests that vegetarians may be more prone to gray hair – as are people with thyroid disease. This is because Vitamin B12 is primarily found in meat, eggs, and milk. For people with thyroid disease, absorption of some nutrients is more difficult, leading to problems. For people who do not eat meat at all (or perhaps do not eat enough), nutritional supplements including multivitamins may be one way to delay the graying of hair.
Another crucial factor can be stress. A 2020 study found that things that stress the body or the hair follicle can lead to premature graying. That means protecting your hair from environmental stressors like pollution and smoking, as well as physical stressors like chronic illness.
Oddly, some advice is contradictory. While studies show the importance of vitamins best acquired through meat and seafood, some doctors recommend an anti-inflammatory diet – one high in vegetables and leafy greens and low in animal fat – as a means to help ward off gray hair.
Ultimately, many people resort to dyes as a means to keep gray hair at bay. And while that can deal with the appearance-related issues of gray hair, it will also cause a different form of stress on your body and hair follicles. Overuse of harsh chemicals on your hair can lead to hair loss.
RHRLI Can Help You Prevent Hair Damage and Hair Loss
If you’re concerned about thinning hair or how damage to your hair can affect your overall hair volume, RHRLI can evaluate and help. When it comes to your hair, we want to help you keep what you have and keep it looking great. Contact us today to discuss the best ways to keep your hair looking its best.