Few people make it to age 50 without some grey hair. Some people begin to go grey as early as the teens, while others reach 50 with very few grey hairs. What makes the difference between going grey and keeping your natural hair color? Multiple factors influence how rapidly a person’s hair turns grey. Age, of course, is the primary determinant for how much grey you have, but there are many others. Here are five causes of grey ha you may not have known about.
Thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) can cause premature greying and accelerated greying. In the US, hypothyroidism affects around 4.6% of the population. It is more common in Caucasians, somewhat less common in those of Hispanic heritage, and far less common in those of African heritage. But here’s the good news: if thyroid disease is diagnosed, it can be treated effectively. Like most diseases, the sooner hypothyroidism is diagnosed, the more successful the treatment and the less likely the patient will suffer from associated problems like prematurely-grey hair.
Prolonged “Fight or Flight” Reaction
Our bodies naturally respond to a real or perceived threat with what is commonly known as the “fight or flight” reaction, which activates the immune system and the cardiovascular system. When such a reaction is prolonged, the body releases three important chemicals: adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol. Adrenaline accelerates the heart rate, slows digestion, and constricts blood vessels. Norepinephrine increases heart rate and affects the “focus” centers in the brain. Cortisol raises blood pressure and blood sugar and hardens arteries. Prolonged or repeated release of these chemicals ages us from the inside, and eventually those effects show on the outside, with less youthful skin, greying of the hair, and in some people, hair loss.
Your Genetic Makeup
You will probably start to go grey around the age when your parents did. Family history is a strong predictor of greying hair. Additionally, your more distant ancestors affect how soon your hair goes grey. Caucasians tend to start going grey at younger ages, while those with Asian and African ancestors tend to go grey at later ages. Also, men tend to start going grey at younger ages than women. You really can’t do anything about your genetic makeup or chronological age, so if your parents went grey in their 20s or early 30s, chances are you will too.
Deficiencies in B vitamins (particularly B12 and folic acid) have been associated with accelerated greying. Zinc deficiency is also associated with faster greying, as are low levels of magnesium. If your hair has not started to go grey yet, you’re smart to consume a healthy diet that provides a broad range of nutrients. If you have the typical busy Western lifestyle, however, eating right can be a challenge, and you might consider taking a vitamin supplement so that greying due to nutritional deficiencies can be forestalled.
Everyone knows that smoking is bad for the heart and lungs. The oxidative stress on the body caused by smoking also accelerates aging, and this includes aging of the hair. A study published in the UK in the late 1990s found that the incidence of grey hair before age 50 was 50% higher in smokers. If you smoke, you could be accelerating the rate at which your hair turns grey. Remember: there’s nothing wrong with using vanity as your motivation to quit smoking.
Some factors that contribute to hair turning grey are controllable and some are not. There are many good reasons to learn to manage stress better, consume a healthier diet, have regular medical checkups, and quit smoking, including the desire to postpone greying for as long as possible.
Today, you can also fight grey hair from the inside, with a product called GetAwayGrey. As we age, the body produces less of a substance called catalase, which breaks down hydrogen peroxide circulating in the body. GetAwayGrey helps boost catalase levels so that more hydrogen peroxide is broken down before it can bleach your hair. Fighting grey from the inside is a much simpler, more convenient way to address grey hair than using harsh chemical dyes every six weeks, and it’s far less expensive than visiting a good hair color specialist in a salon. GetAwayGrey fights grey naturally, from the inside out.