Is your hair greying prematurely ? Here are few reasons and which foods help prevent it

Hair color is determined by the amount and type of pigment called melanin that is produced by specialized cells called melanocytes in the hair follicles. There are two types of melanin: eumelanin (black or brown) and pheomelanin (red or yellow). The ratio of these two types of melanin determines the natural hair color.

As we age, the melanocytes in our hair follicles gradually produce less melanin, resulting in less pigment in our hair strands. This causes our hair to turn grey, which is actually a mixture of pigmented and unpigmented hairs. Eventually, the melanocytes stop producing melanin altogether, resulting in white hair.

The process of greying is influenced by various factors such as genetics , hormones , stress , nutrition , smoking , illness , etc. Some people may start greying earlier than others due to these factors. The average age of onset of greying is around 35 years for Caucasians , 45 years for Asians , and 50 years for Africans .

Reasons for Early Hair Turning Grey

Some people may experience premature greying , which is defined as having more than 50% grey hairs before the age of 20 for Caucasians , 25 for Asians , and 30 for Africans . Premature greying can have various causes , such as :

  • Genetic disorders : Some genetic conditions such as vitiligo , albinism , Werner syndrome , etc., can affect the production or function of melanin , leading to premature greying or loss of hair color .
  • Autoimmune diseases : Some autoimmune diseases such as alopecia areata , thyroid disorders , pernicious anemia , etc., can cause inflammation or damage to the hair follicles , affecting the melanocytes and causing premature greying or hair loss .
  • Nutritional deficiencies : Lack of certain nutrients such as vitamin B12 , iron , copper , zinc , etc., can impair the synthesis or function of melanin , resulting in premature greying or hair loss .
  • Oxidative stress : Excessive exposure to free radicals from environmental factors such as UV rays , pollution , smoking , etc., can damage the DNA or proteins of the melanocytes , affecting their ability to produce melanin and causing premature greying or hair loss .
  • Psychological stress : Chronic or acute stress can trigger the release of hormones such as cortisol , adrenaline , etc., that can affect the blood flow or function of the hair follicles , affecting the melanocytes and causing premature greying or hair loss 
Is your hair greying prematurely ? Here are few reasons and which foods help prevent it


There are several natural foods that can help preserve melanin and defer grey hair. Here are some examples:

  • Folate-rich foods: Examples of folate-rich foods include beans, asparagus, leafy greens, and citrus fruits 1.
  • Vitamin B-12: Vitamin B-12 deficiency is one of the most common causes of prematurely graying hair. Researchers have noted that vitamin B-12 deficiencies are often concurrent with folic acid and biotin deficiencies in people whose hair has started to turn gray early 12.
  • Calcium: Calcium promotes nerve, heart, and muscle health 3.
  • Copper: Copper is essential for melanin production 3.
  • Iron: It’s not uncommon to have low iron levels if you have premature hair graying 3.
  • Antioxidant-rich foods: A diet rich in antioxidants can reduce oxidative stress. Antioxidant-rich foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, green tea, olive oil, fish, etc

Indian foods that are good in preserving melanin and delaying grey hair

  • Amla: Amla, or Indian gooseberry, is a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants that can promote pigmentation and prevent oxidative stress. Amla can be consumed raw, dried, powdered, or as juice or oil
  • Methi: Methi, or fenugreek seeds, are full of various nutrients such as iron, copper, vitamin C, potassium, etc., that can boost melanin production and hair growth. Methi can be soaked, sprouted, or ground and applied to the hair as a paste or mask
  • Curry leaves: Curry leaves are loaded with vitamin B, iron, calcium, phosphorus, etc., that can strengthen the hair follicles and prevent premature greying. Curry leaves can be added to various dishes or boiled with coconut oil and applied to the hair
  • Black sesame seeds: Black sesame seeds are rich in copper, iron, calcium, magnesium, etc., that can stimulate melanin synthesis and restore the natural hair color. Black sesame seeds can be eaten raw, roasted, or powdered and mixed with milk or honey
  • Henna: Henna is a natural dye that can impart a reddish-brown color to the hair and cover the grey hairs. Henna also conditions the hair and improves its texture and shine. Henna can be mixed with water, coffee, tea, or amla and applied to the hair as a paste