One you reach the age of 30, you have a 10 percent to 20 percent chance of graying hair with each passing decade.1 It’s a fact of life that, eventually, virtually everyone will go gray.
Your hair color comes from pigment called melanin. Each hair may contain dark melanin (eumelanin) and light melanin (pheomelanin), which blend together to form the many shades of hair color among humans.
When you’re young, special pigment stem cells called melanocytes inject pigment into keratin-containing cells.
This keratin, a protein, makes up your hair and is responsible for giving it its color. As you age, melanin is reduced, which is why your hair turns gray and, ultimately, white (this means there’s no melanin left).2
Scientists Discover Gene Linked to Graying Hair
What exactly causes melanin to be reduced and hair to turn gray has remained a mystery, until now. An international team of researchers has discovered the first gene linked to gray hair.
The study involved a genome-wide association scan in more than 6,000 Latin Americans to look for genes related to features of scalp hair and facial hair, including graying, balding, beard thickness, monobrow, eyebrow thickness and more).3
A gene that has previously been linked to blonde hair in Europeans turned out to be connected to gray hair as well and accounted for about 30 percent of hair graying among the study participants.
The other 70 percent is likely due to factors such as age, environment, stress and more. The researchers plan to look for ways to manipulate this genetic pathway to prevent hair from turning gray (including drugs, which I would not recommend taking for the purpose of changing your hair color).
Kaustubh Adhikari, Ph.D, a postdoctoral researcher at University College London, told TIME:4
“We might have drugs that boost or stop the protein from acting and change the amount of melanin in hair follicles and change the hair internally … So once the hair comes out like the way you want, you don’t have [to] go out and buy dyes.”
Does Your Hair Have Its Own ‘Biological Clock?’
According to Desmond Tobin, Ph.D., professor of Cell Biology from the University of Bradford in England, your hair follicles may be regulated by a “melanogentic clock” that eventually slows down the activity of melanocyte cells. Further, according to the Library of Congress:5
“ … Tobin suggests that hair turns gray because of age and genetics, in that genes regulate the exhaustion of the pigmentary potential of each individual hair follicle.
This occurs at different rates in different hair follicles. For some people it occurs rapidly, while in others it occurs slowly over several decades.”
It’s known, for instance, that white people may start going gray in their mid-30s, while Asians typically go gray beginning in their late 30s. African Americans typically don’t go gray until their mid-40s.6
What Else Causes Gray Hair?
Other factors for why hair turns gray include:
- Hydrogen peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide is a well-known tool for bleaching your hair, but many people aren’t aware that your hair cells make hydrogen peroxide, too.
As you age, the amount produced increases, which researchers believe ultimately bleaches out your hair pigment, turning your hair grey and then white.7
- Smoking: There is a significant association between tobacco use and graying of hair.8Cigarette smoking is also linked to premature hair graying, with the onset of gray hair occurring before the age of 30.9
- Oxidative stress: Oxidative stress can be defined as the state in which your free radicals (from pollution, poor diet, stress, etc.) outnumber your antioxidant defenses (from healthy diet). Graying hair may be an indicator of oxidative stress-induced damage.10
Research has also shown that people with premature graying had a higher level of pro-oxidants and lower levels of antioxidants than those with normal hair.11
- Vitamin B12 deficiency: This is also linked to premature gray hair, and there is at least one report of pigmentation returning to hair after the vitamin deficiency was resolved.12
Is Premature Gray Hair an Indicator of Health Problems?
It’s thought that going prematurely gray is largely genetic; if you have family members who turned gray early on, there’s a chance you might too.
Obesity is also associated with premature graying,13 and there is some speculation that it could be an indicator of certain health issues. For instance, premature graying of hair may be an important risk marker for the bone condition osteopenia.
According to research published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, people with premature graying but no other identifiable risk factor were 4.4 times as likely to have osteopenia as those without premature graying.14 The researchers suggested:
“The association between premature graying and low bone mass could be related to genes that control peak bone mass or factors that regulate bone turnover.”
Thyroid disorders, anemia and vitiligo have also been linked to premature graying, and it’s even been associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) in young smokers. According to researchers:15
“Premature graying of hair can be used as preliminary evidence by clinicians for classifying patients at risk for premature CAD especially in smokers.”
Does Stress Cause Gray Hair?
It’s commonly believed that stress causes gray hairs (and many parents of teenagers or former presidents, whose hair often turns gray during office would likely attest to that).
Science on this topic has frequently come up short, save a 2011 study published in the journal Nature and led by Nobel Prize winner Dr. Robert Lefkowitz.16
That study found chronic stress and frequent activation of the “fight or flight” stress response leads to DNA damage that may promote not only aging, cancer, neuropsychiatric conditions and miscarriages but also affect genes that control hair pigment.
Scientists Reveal Two Potential ‘Cures’ for Gray Hair
Researchers believe they are getting closer to finding a cure for gray hair. Scientists at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, for instance, isolated the Wnt protein, which coordinates pigmentation between melanocytes and another type of stem cell that guides the development of hair follicles.17
When the researchers inhibited the Wnt pathway in black mice, they turned gray. They believe that one day adding the Wnt protein to hair care products or supplements may “cure” gray hair.
Meanwhile, in a follow-up to the original study that linked gray hair to a build up of hydrogen peroxide, researchers revealed that a UVB-activated compound called PC-KUS could reverse the hydrogen peroxide build up and effectively “cure” gray hair.18
The treatment also works to restore skin color in people with vitiligo. Dr. Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, which published the study, told Medical News Today:19
“For generations, numerous remedies have been concocted to hide gray hair. but now, for the first time, an actual treatment that gets to the root of the problem has been developed.”
The search for a cure for gray hair assumes that gray hair is a problem that needs solving. But there’s nothing intrinsically bad about having gray hair. In fact, from a health perspective you’re far better off going gray than using toxic hair dyes.
And if you’re thinking of embracing your silver locks, now’s a perfect time. So-called “granny hair” is the latest trend, with people paying salons big bucks to go gray. If you’re lucky enough to have earned your gray naturally, you can get this look for free. New York hair stylist Jan-Marie Arteca told Reuters:20
“Granny hair is basically silver hair, any tone of grey in your hair: steel grey, silvery grey, really, really white, platinum-ish with either violet or silver undertones … That’s the trend.”
Breakfast, blood sugar, & inflammation
Recent research has shown that Inflammation is responsible for 7 out of 10 Deaths in the United States. But it doesn’t have to be the same way for you.
In fact, in a fairly short amount of time, you could start to experience better sleep…less stomach issues…more energy and stamina…less muscle and joint pain…a drop in weight…lower stress levels…and much, much more!
Learn how to Prevent—Even Reverse—Most Major Diseases by “Turning Off” Inflammation!
Did you know that one of the best times to stretch is right before bed? However…
What stretches should you do? Here’s a 1-minute stretch routine you can do before bed...
Lisa, Yoga Coach
eatlocalgrown / wisemindhealthybody
...easy, 3-minute exercise that completely cured his horrendous snoring! We can both finally sleep!
Today is a good day. Tonight will be even better. Why?
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Did you know that your bodyfat can become "calorie-resistant"?
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To your health!
PS - Studies show that it can also reduce your risk of diabetes by 53.7%, a heart attack by 83.3% and stroke by 51.4%. Here's more of the scientific proof...
I bet you can’t guess which muscle in your body is the #1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat. This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
If this “hidden” most powerful primal muscle is healthy, we are healthy.
d) Hip Flexors
Take the quiz above and see if you got the correct answer!
In April, 2009, researchers stunned the medical community when they reported chronic inflammation as the root cause of several major diseases.
See, every year 610,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease. Cancer claims another 584,000...stroke 130,000...Alzheimer's disease nearly 85,000 — and the list goes on.
Truth is, we now know... chronic inflammation is responsible for 7 out of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States! Hundreds of studies and scientific reviews prove it.
Fortunately, newer research shows you can prevent-even reverse-most major diseases by "turning off" inflammation. And in our new book, we show you how to do just that.
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Over the past year, my friend Dave over at PaleoHacks has been working on a super secret cookbook project with our good friend Peter Servold a Le Cordon Bleu trained Chef and owner of Pete's Paleo...
And today, this new incredible Paleo Cookbook is finally available to be shipped right to your door for FREE!
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Sponsored Health Resources
In the years that I've been working on this website project I've come across some amazing resources by some very special people. I'd like to share them with you here.
NOTE: I update these links often so please check back to see what's new!
1) Everyone knows green smoothies are healthy right? Have you heard of a “red” smoothie? If not, check out this story…
2) Forget what you've read about 10-day lemonade cleanses, 7-day detoxes with green juices and Gwyneth's gruel. All you need to do, and this is perfect for Saturday or or anytime really, is a simple 1-day cleanse.
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5) Turmeric is amazing. The problem is - It's hard to absorb!
6) Wonder why your stomach still sticks out even though you're hammering the core exercises every day? It's a common myth that bulging belly is due to weak abdominal muscles.
7) Even if you're the most active of athletes, you may still suffer from tight hip flexors due to the amount of time you spend each day planted to a chair.
Enjoy! Let me know how these work out for you. And if you run across anything I've missed please let me know.