Premature Greying of Hair

Discover the underlying causes, embrace healthy habits, and reclaim your premature grey hair by following simple steps.

By URLife Team
24 May 2023

Healthy hair is associated with being  youthful and can be an indicator of overall well-being. Having a great mane doesn’t just improve your appearance, but it makes you more confident too. However, that can be ruined the minute you start spotting grey hair. Whether we like it or not, grey hair is a part of the natural process of ageing. According to a 2020 study in Skin Appendage Disorder, 23 per cent of people have 50 per cent of grey hair by the age of 50.


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According to a 2018 study issued in the International Journal of Trichology, hair pigmentation is one of the most unique features in humans ranging from black, brown, blonde to red. The colour of human hair is due to pigment melanin produced by melanocytes . Melanin determines the colour of our hair, skin, and eyes. As we age, the melanocytes in our hair follicles may gradually decrease in number or become less active, resulting in a reduced production of melanin. This can lead to a loss of colour in the hair and the appearance of grey or white hair.


Related story: How To Tame Frizzy Hair


However, premature grey hair has become one of the most talked-about topics today . “Premature greying” is when  hair starts to turn white way before expected. Greying of hair is regarded as the sign of old age and it can cause embarrassment and low self-esteem in many.


It is completely normal for hair to change its texture and colour as one ages, also known as canities or achromotrichia. So, why does this happen?


Related story: Why Your Hair Is Falling Out And What Can You Do About It


Causes of Premature Greying of Hair

Premature grey hair is generally a cosmetic concern, however it may also be due to   underlying health problems. The exact reasons behind why hair follicles lose pigment with age are not fully understood.  Premature grey hair may be influenced by various factors, including medical conditions, genetics, hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies, and lifestyle factors genetics, and certain medical conditions. 


1. Genetics

The age at which your hair begins to turn grey is largely determined by your genetics. If your parents or close relatives experienced premature greying, there is a higher likelihood that you may also experience it.


2. Oxidative stress

Extreme emotional or physical stress can potentially accelerate the greying process. Oxidative stress can disrupt the normal functioning of melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing melanin. Oxidative stress happens when there is a contrast between free radicals (which can damage cells) and antioxidants (that prevent or delay some cell damage). This disruption can result in a decreased production of melanin and premature greying.


3. Autoimmune disease

As per a 2018 study issued in the PLoS Biology, an autoimmune disease can cause premature white hair as the body's immune system attacks its own cells. In the case of alopecia and vitiligo, the immune system can attack hair and cause loss of pigment.


4. Thyroid disorder

Early greying has also been identified as a consequence of both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. The imbalance in thyroid hormone can disrupt the new hair growth, makes hair follicles brittle, thin and may even lack in pigmentation.


5. Nutritional deficiency

Deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin B12, vitamin D, copper, and iron, can contribute to premature greying. These nutrients are essential for the production and maintenance of melanin.


Related story: Suffering From Hair Loss? You Could Be Missing These Nutrients


6. Lifestyle factors

Poor lifestyle habits, such as a lack of sleep, improper diet, and chronic exposure to environmental pollutants, can contribute to premature greying of hair.


7. Chemicals in hair products

Excessive use of harsh hair products, such as hair dyes, bleaches, and harsh styling products, can damage the hair follicles and disrupt melanin production. This can potentially lead to premature greying.


Related story: How To Reverse Grey Hair? For Starters, Stop Stressing


Ways to Reverse Grey Hair

While it's not possible to reverse grey hair completely, self-care   may help prevent premature greying and promote healthy hair. 


Here are some suggestions:

1. Consume a balanced diet

A well-rounded diet  includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. A nutrient-rich diet provides essential vitamins and minerals for hair health.
Include antioxidant-rich foods: Eat foods high in antioxidants, such as berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens, and colourful vegetables. Antioxidants help protect hair follicles from oxidative stress, which may contribute to premature greying.


2. Add vitamin B12 in your diet

Ensure adequate intake of vitamin B12, which is found in animal products like fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy. Vitamin B12 deficiency may be associated with premature greying.


3. Go for iron-rich foods

Include iron sources in your diet, such as lean meats, seafood, legumes, dark leafy greens, and fortified cereals. Iron deficiency has been linked to hair loss and may contribute to premature greying.


Related story: 5 Supplements To Stop Your Hair From Falling


4. Increase omega-3 fatty food intake

Incorporate foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds. These healthy fats help support scalp health and promote hair strength.


5. Take vitamin D naturally

Ensure adequate vitamin D levels through moderate sun exposure or by consuming vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and fortified cereals. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with premature greying.


6. Protect your hair from UV radiation

Prolonged exposure to the sun's UV radiation can damage hair follicles and accelerate the greying process. When spending time outdoors, protect your hair by wearing a hat, a scarf or using hair products that contain UV filters.


7. Avoid smoking

Smoking has been linked to premature greying. Quitting smoking or avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke may help maintain the natural colour of your hair.


8. Opt for a gentle hair care routine

Treat your hair gently to minimise breakage and damage. Avoid excessive heat styling, over-washing hair, harsh chemical treatments, and tight hairstyles that pull on the hair. Opt for mild, sulphate-free shampoos and conditioners that are suitable for your hair type. Also, try DIY-two ingredient hair mask for healthy and shiny hair instructed by Ms. Upasana Kamineni Konidela. 


9. Lead a healthy lifestyle

Maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, stress management techniques (such as meditation or yoga), and adequate sleep. These factors contribute to overall well-being, which may have a positive impact on hair health.


Consult a Trichologist (hair specialist)


If you are experiencing a sudden onset of grey hair at a young age, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist through UR.Life. A dermatologist will conduct a thorough evaluation after going through your  medical history, and possibly order additional tests or screenings to identify any underlying factors contributing to your condition. They can evaluate your specific case and provide appropriate guidance and treatment options.


Need all your wellness solutions in one place? A whole new world awaits just a click away.


With the UR.Life Corporate Wellness programme, we help you to invest in your well-being through seamless interventions and targeted medical treatments. Our holistic wellness approach caters to all aspects of your well-being. We ensure that you are able to bring your whole self to work.

With our medical professionals by your side, routine health check-ups will never be an issue. Advanced laboratory technologies back UR.Life’s Occupational Health Centers (OHC), and with highly qualified experts/technicians, we’re committed to delivering trusted and quality recommendations, modifications and advice to you.

Click here to learn more about the UR.Life Corporate Wellness programme and unlock better health.




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