Have you ever wondered why hair turns gray as you age? As we age, some of the inescapable signs are graying and thinning hair, which we are going to discuss in this piece. But why does this happen? Why don’t our tissues renew continually?
Here's a look at what causes hair to turn gray and some of the factors that affect graying.
Genetics determine the age at which you will get your first strand of gray hair. But the rate at which the graying moves forward is under our control. There are a lot of physical and chemical activities that are known to increase graying. These activities will be revealed as we proceed.
Fast forward, human hair contains follicles that have pigment cells to make melanin. Melanin is what gives the hair its color. As we age. These cells begin to disappear. This is how it happens, every hair follicle contains pigment cells called melanocytes which specify the color of the hair. The pigment is generated along the hairline, and there are two main forms of the pigment called eumelanin and pheomelanin.
Eumelanin - Produce black or dark brown hair in people.
And Phenomelanin which produces reddish-yellow hair.
The cells in our hair bulb develop a tiny bit of hydrogen peroxide, which is a metabolic by-product, and this byproduct is broken down by an enzyme called catalase into water and oxygen. But as we age, there are decreasing levels of catalase, and this allows the build-up of hydrogen peroxide in the hair bulb, which damages and destroys the melanocytes. However, when you first start to gray, the melanocytes are still present, but they become less active. Less pigment is deposited into the hair so it appears lighter.
As graying progress, the melanocytes die off until there aren't any cells left to produce the color.
While this is a normal and unavoidable part of the aging process and is not in itself associated with disease, some autoimmune diseases can cause premature graying. However, some people start going gray in their 20s and are perfectly healthy. and this is due to a gene called interferon regulatory factor 4, which is important in regulating and producing melanin in the hair.
Many factors contribute to graying besides age. They are as follows.
Oxidative stress is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body that can lead to tissue and cell deterioration. oxidative stress in the body may play a part when the graying process happens prematurely.
Oxidative stress results in imbalances when antioxidants are not sufficient to neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals. Free radicals are hazardous molecules that damage cells, contributing to diseases affecting skin-pigment conditions which may also turn the hair gray due to melanin cell disfunction.
Knowingly, premature graying is associated with genetics largely. A generation has a higher chance of developing gray hair early when both parents develop theirs in their 20s.
Insufficient vitamins such as Vitamin D, E, B-6, and B-12 and even biotin can lead to premature graying because nutritional deficiencies affect pigmentation. And it's a common participant with premature hair graying.
Autoimmune diseases can be a person’s chance of graying prematurely. An example is hair anomalies and thyroid dysfunction.
Smokers gray early than the general humankind due to the oxidative damage that smoke causes and how it implicates the pigment-producing cells in the hair.
According to research, stress is known to cause early gray hair. The cells responsible for hair color can be worn out when the body is under stress.
Chemical hair dyes contribute to premature hair graying. Many of these products contain harmful ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide that decreases melanin.
Graying is a natural process no one can escape. But we have so many ways to stop the development of premature graying.
Our lifestyle has a great effect on us when it comes to developing gray hair. The environment and nutrition are some lifestyles that may also be credited for graying, especially premature graying. Stress, smoking, and an unbalanced diet are several examples of why we may start experiencing premature graying. How do we stop this lifestyle? You may ask.
First things first, Smoking has adverse effects on the body and contributes to gray hair. Putting a stop to it could seriously push back the age you start graying.
A person’s diet plays a part in preventing grey hair. Food rich in antioxidants can lessen oxidative stress. So, make sure you get a good balance of vitamins and minerals in your diet. This is due to the micronutrients playing many essential roles in cellular metabolism and deficiencies which are associated with grey hair.
Specific health conditions can affect your hair as said earlier, encouraging premature greying. So getting a regular check-up on diseases like thyroid situations, nutrient deficiencies, and other diseases can help lessen the rapid growth of gray hair prematurely.
Curry leaves slow down premature greying and retain black hair color when combined with hair oil and applied to the scalp.
Ridge gourd is one of the most helpful ingredients in the prevention of greying. It helps restore the pigments and strengthens the roots of the hair.
In summary, normal hair gets its color from a pigment called melanin. Melanin is produced by melanocyte cells. These cells are found in the deepest layer of the skin, just above the hair the bottom part of the hair follicle called the papilla. Also, we talked about the two types of melanin-Eumelanin and pheomelanin.
Eumelanin is a dark pigment that is accountable for brown and black hair. In another hand, Pheomelanin is a reddish pigment that results in golden hair types. Golden hair occurs when melanocytes generate low levels of eumelanin.
In conclusion, gray hair is a beautiful fad in aged people. It is a crown of splendor and something to embrace as a person.
1. Grey Hair: Here’s Why Some People Go, Grey, Before Others" Retrieved from https://atlasbiomed.com/blog/grey-hair-causes/
2. "Going Gray: 15 Facts About Why, How, Genetics, and Hair Care" https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/gray-hair-facts
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