Healthy hair is a sign of general wellbeing. The nature of hair, its texture and color can significantly affect the physical appearance of an individual. As greying of hair is perceived in the old age, and if it appear at younger age it affect the self-esteem of an individual.
Premature graying of hair is called as canities. Canities, or hair graying, happens as a part of chronological aging which occurs regardless of gender or race. As per the race and ethnicity, the age of greying may vary. Premature grey hair can be defined as the graying of hair before the age of 20 years in Americans, before 30years in Africans and before 25 years in Asians.
The process of synthesis of melanin the body is called as melanogenesis. The color of hair in each individual depends upon melanogenesis. The process is believed to happen at various genetic levels. Among the hair follicles there exist 2 kinds of melanins – the black brown pigment i.e. eumelanins which is seen in black and brown hair and phenomelanins which is present in yellow or red hair.
The etiology of premature graying is incompletely understood. Few of the probable reasons for grey hair are:
• Genetic factors – Graying of hair can happen as an autosomal dominant condition before the age of 20years. Hereditary factors also play an important role in premature graying
• Pernicious anemia – The disease occurs when body is unable to absorb the Vit- B12. People suffering from pernicious anemia are more likely to develop graying of hair.
• Stress – Stress is another major cause early grey hair. Irregular or disturbed sleep, anxiety, hypertension, improper food habits can contribute to generate stress in the body
• Autoimmune disease – Auto immune diseases occur when the body’s immune system attack its own cells. E.g: In case of vitiligo, alopecia the immune system causes loss of pigmentation.
• Thyroid diseases – Due to thyroid disorders like hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, there are high chances of premature graying. Over productive or underactive thyroid can affect the melanin production in the body.
• Smoking – Smoking is considered to be another major cause of white hairs. The blood vessels get constricted and there will be reduced blood flow to hair follicles and can affect the growth of hair. Toxins in the cigarette can damage hair follicles which causes early graying.
• Lack of healthy nutrition
Ayurveda explains graying of hair as Palithya. When it happens before the age of 32years, it is said to be Akalapalithya.
Ayurveda explains, the main cause for greying of hair as aggravated pitta dosha. If the condition is associated with hairfall, vata dosha has also involved. The reason for the vitiation is said to be related with dietary habits, lifestyle, psychological and genetic reasons.
Premature grey hair treatment explained in Ayurveda are mainly to avoid the causative factor (ie pitta aggravating factors). Other treatment modalities include, Panchakarma therapies – Vamana, Virechana, and Nasya. The scalp should be treated with medicated oils and lepa (medicated pastes) can be applied.
• Low vitamin B12 levels can lead to dry, thinning, and prematurely greying hair (aswell as a whole host of other health problems such as fatigue and shortness of breath). Enhance the hair Colour by consuming fresh greens and fruits.
• Breakfast is your body’s most important meal of the day — and your hair. The energy needed to form hair cells is lowest in the morning (or whenever you wake up!). Eat a healthy and nutritious protein breakfast and complex carbohydrates to add nutritional boost to your hair.
• Depending on your level of activity and climate, drink about 1.5-2 liters of water per day. Your scalp can become dehydrated, just like your skin, making for a poor growing environment.
• Four hours after you eat a meal the energy to form hair cells falls. Snack between meals on a complex carbohydrate, such as fruits, vegetables, whole meal bread or whole meal crackers, to sustain energy levels in your follicles.
• Eat enough protein – Your hair is composed primarily of protein, so it’s important for hair growth to have sufficient amounts in your diet. Eat a portion of high protein food with breakfast and lunch (e.g., fish, chicken, lean meat, eggs, beans, quinoa, tofu, legumes, nuts).
• Increase Vitamin C intake – Iron can only be effectively absorbed if it is ingested alongside vitamin C. Drink a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice or eat one of your favorite fruits / vegetables to help you take iron.
• The dairy products are a great calcium source. However, if you are susceptible to dandruff, eczema or psoriasis, the disease can be aggravated or caused by milk products. Start restricting the intake of cheese and whole milk.
• Try not to choose the same foods or meals every day. Eating a varied diet which will help to ensure you get a wide range of vitamins and minerals that are essential.