The Mystery Behind Your Graying Hair

Every adult has at one point pondered why their hair is turning gray. While we expect this to take place as we pass the forty year old mark, those who are experiencing the premature emergence in their thirties or earlier are even more puzzled. Today it is possible to find a 45 year old man with a full head of his natural color hair while a 30 year old has gone mysteriously gray. There is a scientific reason why this type of disparity occurs.

Each one of your strands of hair can be divided into two parts. One is the root which has been anchored just below the skin of your scalp. The second part is the shaft, which grows out from the scalp, starting at the root. The hair follicle is a part of the root, surrounding it and controlling the unique characteristics of your hair, including the color.

The interior of the follicle contains cells which are producing the pigment melanin. It is here that the color of your hair is determined. Melanin is also at work in the determination of the color of your skin. Melanin exists in two distinct types. The first is phaeomelanin, which is responsible for lighter colors such as blonde hair. The darker colors are produced by the eumelanin. When you blend these two in certain proportions you end up with the unique color of your hair.

Melanocyte cells have the job of producing melanin. These cells are slowly dying off as you are getting older. This will cause a natural decrease in the amount of melanin and an increase in the number of gray hairs found on your head. There are over 100,000 individual hairs on your head, each with its own independent follicle. This leads to the process of your graying hair to typically take up to ten years to complete.

The main determining factor for when you will begin to see gray hair is genetics. It is known that the age at which your parent’s hair began to change color is a good indicator of when yours will.

mystery behind gray hair

José Mourinho with his short gray hair; Credit: Wikipedia

Diet is also a deciding factor for when gray hair will begin to appear. A diet that is rich in natural foods packed with vitamins and minerals can possibly work towards stalling the onset of gray hair. Like all of your body’s cells, melanocytes are dependent on nutrients to stay healthy.

Those that are subjected to a diet that is complete with high amounts of vitamins like iron and vitamin B will have a higher life expectancy. Those who get their majority of calories from junk foods and high sugar sodas can expect to gray sooner than those whose diet is a healthy one.

Cigarette smoking is also believed to affect the age at which gray hair makes its first appearance. Smoking reduces the oxygen levels in the blood, starving cells like melanocytes of this essential element. Other unhealthy habits such as a high intake of alcohol and caffeine can also contribute to premature gray hair.

Problems with the thyroid and anemia will also cause a rapid change in the color of your hair. Cancer patients often suffer from an early onset of gray as the methods used to treat the disease often kill healthy melanocyte cells.

The bottom line is that the growth of gray hair is a biological process that you can do little to prevent. Covering it up with dyes is one way to hide it, but as time goes on it will always make a reappearance. If you want to treat your hair naturally, then READ THIS ARTICLE.

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