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Home / Lady Speak

Is it the hormones or genes causing your premature graying?

 Some ladies start graying in the mid and late 30s (Image: Shutterstock)

Hair obtains its colour from melanin from tiny sacs known as hair follicles. These follicles have been established to deplete the pigment over time resulting in gray or white hair.

We expect to gray just as we expect wrinkles as we get older. Science documents that Caucasians begin to gray by around mid to late 30s, Asians at early 40s and Africans begin to gray at around mid 40s. However, graying is considered premature if it develops earlier.

Why would hair grey prematurely?

1.  Vitamins and hormones

A vitamin B-12 deficiency results in skin and hair alterations. Additionally, a problem in the functions of the pituitary or thyroid gland can lead to graying. Lifestyle choices such as smoking have been linked to reduce the body’s levels of Vitamin B12.

The good news is that vitamin deficiency and a problematic thyroid can be detected and treated, making such a cause reversible. Supplementing your diet with vitamin B rich foods may keep premature graying at bay.

2.  Genes

If you happen to see gray strands earlier than your peers, chances are that a close relative(s) developed gray hair early. This predetermined factor means that you are “programmed” to gray early; which leaves you with no choice but to accept your graying mane.

3. Autoimmune diseases

Such conditions cause the body’s immune system to attack its own cells. Dr Mukuhi Ng’ang’a highlights two conditions that could contribute to premature graying; vitiligo and alopecia areata. “In vitiligo, the immune system attacks melanin producing cells in the body.

This leads to development of white patches on skin and premature graying of hair. In alopecia areata, there is unpredictable hair loss and when the hair grows back, you may find that you have developed new gray patches.”

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