What Causes Me to Have Gray Hair Before Being Super Old?

February 26, 2021 by Kristy

Recently I turned 40.  I don’t really think I “feel” 40.  I am lucky and I have taken really good care of my skin so I don’t think I “look” 40.  I have a hard time with age and knowing how old people really are anyways, but when you look at yourself every day in the mirror it is hard to see yourself aging.  The one thing that I think is the tale-tale sign of my age is my gray hair.

When I was a kid I had beautiful light brown hair.  During the summer I would get these natural sun kissed highlights that I adored.  I have always had really thick hair and as a kid my Mom always had it up in pigtails.  As a teen I still had thick long hair and I usually would have it permed or kind of a natural wave.  My hair has always been a big part of who I am and it makes me happy to have good hair.

After my youngest son was born, when I was 29, I started finding occasional gray hairs.  Of course it kind of bugged me but it didn’t seem like that big of deal.  Within 5 years I consistently grew gray hairs.  It is so irritating. I keep thinking, “I am way too young, to have so many gray hairs”.  I felt like I had no choice but to start coloring my hair.

So I have been coloring my hair for the last five years, every 6 to 8 weeks.  I try to go as long as possible because although I have not done any research and I am not ready to do any research, I do realize that coloring your hair and exposing yourself to those chemicals is not good for you.  I also don’t want to walk around and be the gray girl.  So I am trapped.

My Mom posted on facebook a picture of her Grandfather. He was completely gray in his 20’s.  My grandparents were completely gray early and my Mom, is fully gray and started graying about 35.  You know I don’t blame much on hereditary but is my gray hair because of my great grandfather?

According to David Bank, director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in Mt. Kisco, NY,  “If your parents or grandparents grayed at an early age, you probably will too,”.  The article over at health.usnews.com went on to say. “The premature graying problem is largely genetic. Hair follicles contain pigment cells that produce melanin, which gives your tresses their color. When your body stops generating melanin, hair presents itself as gray, white, or silver.”  Okay, so thanks Great Grandpa!  But is that it?  Does it really mean that I have no responsibility for my own gray hair?

Not necessarily, sometimes there are other factors in getting gray hair.  Occasionally autoimmune and genetic conditions are linked to graying hair before you are old enough to have grays.  Poor nutrition is also thought to affect the production of melanin.  And a vitamin B-12 deficiency can lead to gray hair early.  So how do I increase my production of melanin and absorb more vitamin B-12.

Medicinenet.com defines Melanin as The pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their color. Dark-skinned people have more melanin in their skin than light-skinned people have. Melanin is produced by cells called melanocytes. It provides some protection again skin damage from the sun, and the melanocytes increase their production of melanin in response to sun exposure. Freckles, which occur in people of all races, are small, concentrated areas of increased melanin production.  How do I increase my melanin?  Healthfully.com states, “Add Vitamins A and E to your diet, as well as carotene. Foods containing these vitamins can increase your melanin production. Vitamin A and carotene-rich foods include carrots, melons, fish, eggs, and olive oil. Tomatoes are particularly rich in Vitamin E, as are pistachios. You may also want to increase your calcium intake, especially white cheeses.”  Sounds easy enough!

What do I do to increase my vitamin B-12 intake?  According to National Institutes of Health Vitamin B12 is required for proper red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis.  Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products. Vitamin B12 is generally not present in plant foods, but fortified breakfast cereals are a readily available source of vitamin B12 with high bioavailability for vegetarians.  Personally I can see why I may be low in B12.  I don’t eat fish and I consume very little meats and of course I don’t eat cereal.

I find it so fascinating that we as a society first blame genetics, which that definitely could contribute but does genetics really play a heavier role then improper nutrtion?