One of my good friends likes to say his hair is not going gray… it’s just running out of paint.
But scientifically speaking, he’s really not that far off!
As we age, our hair actually runs out of the pigment melanin, the same cell that gives skin its color. Each hair follicle has a finite amount of melanin cells. As they run out, the hair slowly turns gray, then finally white when there is no pigment left at all.
But you’d think by now we’d have discovered a more effective way to keep hair color than getting it chemically treated a few times a year. While there’s no one-size-fits-all, clinically-proven regimen, there are many theories and studies that have shown promise for prevention of premature graying, further graying, and even gray hair reversal.
I’m not sure it’s possible to prevent gray hair forever, but diagnosing one of the following causes of one or more of these natural tricks and treatments could help keep your locks in high definition color for longer.
3 Major Risk Factors for Premature Graying
Smoking has been known to increase the rate of graying hair. One study published in the Indian Dermatology Online Journal showed that smokers were a whopping 2.5 times more likely to experience premature hair graying (graying before age 30) than non-smokers. If you haven’t quit smoking yet, it’s definitely time!
Vitamin B Deficiency
The hair care company Pantene Pro-V knew their stuff when they formulated their shampoos and conditioners. Vitamin B deficiency, especially pantothenic acid (B5) and B12, can cause low melanin production. This deficiency can also lead to pernicious anemia. Anemics may also suffer from premature hair graying.
Untreated Thyroid Condition
Low thyroid hormone – or hypothyroidism – can also cause premature hair graying, according to Dr. Lawrence Wood, head of the Thyroid Foundation of America.
9 Natural Treatments for Gray Hair
Treating your gray hair may be as easy as quitting a cigarette habit, taking a vitamin B complex, or getting tested for anemia and hypothyroidism. (If you suspect you’re anemic or hypothyroid, you should get tested regardless of gray hair!)
There are also several natural options for maintaining or restoring hair color, including…
- Henna extract, which treats gray hair naturally by combining your hair’s proteins with its reddish-tinted molecules. It’s like hair color without the harsh chemicals, hefty salon bill, or huge time commitment.
- Amla fruit extract has 30 times more vitamin C than an orange. It fights free radical damage on your hair’s color cells (melanocytes), allowing them to continue producing color for longer.
- Red hibiscus extract has been said to fight grays at the root – while promoting faster hair growth.
- Kudzu extract was recently shown to reduce formation of new gray hairs over a six-month period. There were no adverse effects reported.
You can also get double the bang for your buck by using your daily supplements for treating unwanted grays.
- Vitamin C fights oxidative stress in your body, which can help increase melanin and overall hair production. It also boosts collagen production (more on that in a moment).
- Vitamin B12 is a critical building block for healthy, colored hair. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause gray hair even in children, according to Stanford Med’s Dr. Alan Green.
- Vitamin D helps grow healthy hair – and there are tons of anecdotal evidence to support it can actually reverse gray hair.
- Vitamin K2, or menaquinone, is a fat-soluble vitamin. Studies show 90% of the western world is deficient in K2. Low K2 causes kidney stress, with the result often appearing in facial wrinkling and decreased health and color of hair.
- Collagen makes up 25% of the protein in our bodies. Though it’s commonly ascribed to healthy skin and nails, hair follicles require plenty of collagen to produce thick, healthy hairs – and plenty of pigment to maintain their natural color.
It’s tricky to find a good quality supplement with these vitamins and collagen.
Strangely enough, I recently realized the Healthy Back Institute’s Super Joint Supportâ„¢ supplement has them all. Now, it was formulated to support healthy joints, while reducing stiffness and pain in the process.
Now you can get double the bang for your buck… enjoying healthier, less painful and more limber joints while keeping gray hair at bay. It’s a two-for-one punch, all in one capsule!
It could take up to six months to notice a difference in your hair when taking supplements. But you’ll notice a near instant decrease in stiffness and pain in your joints – a nice bonus while waiting for your hair to catch up!
Zayed AA. Smokers’ hair: Does smoking cause premature hair graying? Indian Dermatology Online Journal. 2013 Apr;4(2):90-2.
Jo SJ. Efficacy and Safety of Pueraria lobata Extract in Gray Hair Prevention: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Annals of Dermatology. 2013 May;25(2):218-22.