How to delay the appearance of gray hair: an expert points out the main factors

Alina MilsentNews
How to prevent premature aging

As much as we would like to preserve our beauty and youthfulness for as long as possible, it is simply impossible to avoid the appearance of gray hair. War, stress, constant tension and anxiety lead to exhaustion and premature aging.

Scientists say that the rate at which hair color changes is largely determined by genes. However, numerous studies have shown that there are ways to slow down the rate at which gray hair appears. How to delay age-related changes, the Daily Mail told us.

Why hair turns gray

With age, melanocytes, tiny skin cells that produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin and hair color, begin to break down. As a result, hair becomes translucent and looks gray only because it reflects light from the surrounding darker hair.

Experts say that if your family members turned completely gray at the age of 30, your fate is probably sealed. And there is no cure for this. But there is a chance to postpone the process for a few years by following simple steps.

Tip 1

Quit smoking (vaping is also on the list of dangers). Scientists have proven that smoking can accelerate the rate of graying. This is because the toxins in cigarettes cause oxidative stress, a biological process during which unstable molecules in the body called free radicals attack and destroy healthy melanin-producing skin cells. Free radicals are formed during smoking.

A 2014 study from the Medical University of Silesia in Poland, published in the journal Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, found that regular exposure to nicotine – through tobacco, e-cigarettes, or even nicotine gum and patches – reduces melanin production in the scalp.

Tip 2

Exposure to the sun for too long is harmful not only for the skin but also for the hair – it also loses color.

Excessive UV light causes the same oxidative stress as smoking, damaging melanin-producing scalp cells and accelerating the graying process. Studies show that UV rays disrupt the level of keratin, a protein in hair that strengthens and protects it. Anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors, such as construction workers or agricultural laborers, should always wear a hat.

Tip 3

Vitamin B12 is extremely important for cell regeneration, and its deficiency can lead to graying.

Vegan diets are known to lack vitamin B12, which is found in large quantities in meat, eggs, and dairy products. Vitamin B12 is not found in fruits, vegetables, or grains. The best food sources of vitamin B12 are liver and red meat.

Tip 4

A bad day at work won't affect your chances of turning gray prematurely. But if you are experiencing chronic, prolonged stress, the risk increases significantly.

The body is programmed to release certain hormones, such as cortisol and norepinephrine when we are under threat. This is part of a natural response that was crucial to our ancestors' survival in the wild.

But if this natural response doesn't shut down and instead persists for days, weeks, or even months, excess cortisol can negatively affect the body, including the hair. In addition, in survival mode, the brain prioritizes the supply of blood and nutrients to cells and tissues (such as muscles) that are vital to overcome the crisis. Non-essential cells, such as melanocytes, which determine hair color, are given low priority.

Rule 5

Even in difficult times, you need to learn how to relieve stress through exercise and rest. The main thing is just to find a distraction. It can be an evening jog, gardening, baking, or reading a book in a warm bed.

If you don't think about the stressors in your life for at least an hour or two a day, your stress hormone levels will decrease.

Rule 6

For most of us, graying is a slow process. But if your hair starts to lose color abruptly and suddenly, you may need to see a doctor and undergo appropriate examinations. Thyroid problems are one of the main causes of sudden graying.

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that secretes the hormone thyroxine. Doctors say that if thyroxine levels are low, the gland does not work properly, and we suffer from fatigue, weight gain, depression, and joint pain. In addition, melanin production decreases. The good news is that there are several reports in the scientific literature that patients regain their hair color after treatment.

Rule 7

Polluted air damages hair color in the same way as cigarette smoke. Toxins, including diesel fumes, that are inhaled and enter the bloodstream can trigger oxidative stress – damaging healthy scalp cells, and reducing their ability to produce melanin, which is essential for color retention.

Urban residents are at greater risk. A recent report found that the population of London, for example, is exposed to toxins such as nitrogen dioxide that exceed World Health Organization standards.

If you live in a populated area, it's important to wash your hair regularly – at least every other day – to get rid of contaminated particles that can penetrate your hair and damage melanocyte cells.

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