What Causes Gray Hair?

Gray hair is not just a sign of old age. It can occur at any stage in life. But for most people, gray hair is generally a result of natural aging.

It has more to do with the body not being able to process enough pigment that gives hair its color. But aside from natural aging, gray hair can also be caused by a number of factors.

Gray hair is the result of the hair strands not getting enough of the chemical melanin which is responsible for giving color to hair. This chemical is produced by specialized cells found within each hair follicle.

There are different types of melanin that give hair their different colors. Eumelanin gives the hair a brown or black color. Pheomelanin gives the hair a yellow or red color. The type of melanin that a person will have is determined by genes.

The body has no central source from which it can produce melanin. There is no gland assigned to produce this hair pigmentation chemical and instead is only produced through pigment cells in each strand of hair. This may be the reason why hairs tend to go gray individually.

Aside from natural aging, researchers have not yet found the underlying reason why hair follicles stop producing melanin. This still remains a puzzle for researchers since it has been found that most gray hairs still contain melanocytes and melanosomes, considered as the building blocks of melanin, although there is no more sign of melanin in them.

Aside from aging, there have been other factors that researchers have discovered to affect the color of the hair, making it turn gray. They can either be internal or external in nature. Genetic defects have been seen as an internal factor that may contribute to premature graying of hair.

Hormonal changes may also have an effect on hair turning gray. Certain vitamin deficiencies may also contribute to hair turning gray prematurely.  Thyroid imbalance and anemia can also be factors in making hair go gray earlier than expected.

There are also external factors that may also cause hair to go gray. Climate may also have an effect on making hair turn gray over time. Certain toxins and pollutants that an individual may come into contact with can also be a factor in turning hair to gray prematurely.

There is also evidence that tobacco smoking may be a factor in premature gray hair. Studies have show that smokers are four times more likely to experience having premature gray hair than those who do not.

Gray hair can tell a lot about a person. In general they seem to distinguish individuals in a certain point of respect and distinction if they come with age. But with premature gray hair, it might be a problem for some people and might not matter for others.

The easiest way to address premature gray hair is have it colored artificially, wear a wig over it, or have the appropriate haircut, going bald might not be an option for some people. In most cases, the graying of hair should not be considered as a life threatening problem and should be taken with a grain of salt.