When we grow old, we expect our hair to turn gray and eventually white. This is common since at a certain age, our hair follicles stop producing melanin, which results in white hair.
According to research, our bodies produce a natural pigment called melanin. Melanin is regulated by a cell called melanocyte. These cells push the natural pigments into the keratin, which is a natural protein that makes up our hair, skin and nails. Melanocytes work for a specific time frame, which differs from person to person. Hair that has lost most of its natural pigment turns gray, and hair that has completely lost all its melanin is white hair.
White hair happens when these melanocytes stop functioning. This is caused by several factors:
Genetics play a big factor in the graying of our hair. By inheriting the chromosome from a parent who is genetically programmed to have white hair, then naturally, you will get white hair too.
Vitamin B Deficiency
Vitamin B deficiency may result in white hair at an early age. If you have poor nutrition and unbalanced diet, certain vitamin deficiencies can come across. When you lack vitamin B6 and B12, specifically, the percentage of you having gray hair is higher. Vitamin B6 is good for preventing hair loss and creating melanin while vitamin B12 is good for preventing gray hair.
Products like shampoo and hair colors that you use directly on your hair may lead to gray hair. Hair products that contain hydrogen peroxide help destroy your hair’s natural color, turning your hair to white.
David Fisher, Director of Melanoma Program and Chief of the Department of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School, noted that stress hormones could impact the survival or activity of melanocytes, but no clear link has been discovered between stress and gray hair yet.
Dr. Ralj Paus, a dermatologist from the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, uncovered that gray hair can be caused by free radicals (unstable molecules that damage cells), which stress hormones help produce.
Next week, December 2, 2013, we shall discuss how to prevent gray or white hair. – J.P.