The dark secret
Premature greying of
hair is hereditary or caused by stress. However, a balanced and
wholesome diet, rich in nutrients, can prevent it to some extent
Dr Anjali Mukerjee
If you are genetically
prone to early balding or greying of hair, you can blame it to your
ancestors but largely the health of your hair depends upon your blood
circulation and nutrition.
Hair colour is the result of pigmentation
attributed to the presence of certain specific chemicals known as
eumelanin and pheomelanin (broadly referred to as melanin).
cells at the base of hair follicles are responsible for producing
melanocytes, the cells that produce and store pigment in hair and
In general, the more melanin is present, the darker is the hair
colour; and less the melanin, the lighter is the hair colour.
Causes of greying
Grey hair is usually
associated with ageing, but this is not always the case. The change in
hair colour is caused by the gradual decrease of pigmentation that
occurs when melanin ceases to be produced in the hair root and new
hairs grow in without pigment.
The death of the melanocyte stem cells
causes the onset of greying. Early greying of the hair is basically
hereditary and may get inherited from parents or grandparents.
hair is made up of protein, a low protein intake can result in a
change of hair colour, change its texture making it look dull and
lifeless, and cause unnecessary thinning.
Grey hair can also be
influenced by stress. A person experiencing a prolonged period of
stress, worry and anxiety may notice premature greying of hair, over a
period of time.
This is because prolonged stress brings about
bio-chemical changes within the body and may cause premature greying
Excessive intake of tea,
coffee, alcohol, refined flour and sugar, red meat, and fried, spicy,
and acidic foods can reduce the moisture, oxygen and nutrients
reaching the hair follicles, subsequently leading to premature greying.
A drop in melanin
production may also be caused by a lack of vital minerals like copper,
selenium, iron and calcium and vitamins like B12 and folic acid.
Chronic illness such as diabetes, pernicious anaemia, albinism or
thyroid malfunction too can stop or affect the production of melanin.
Although many hair problems are due to faulty genes or too much of the
male hormone testosterone, and cannot be reversed with nutrition
alone; a significant improvement in hair health can be achieved by
improving your diet and taking vitamin supplements.
Greying of hair at
an early age is primarily due to hereditary reasons or due to
intense stress, but the lack of a balanced and wholesome diet,
rich in nutrients plays a pivotal role in early greying of hair.
healthy hair and delay premature greying:
antioxidants both in the natural form as in vegetable and fruit
juices, raw nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts, and in the
synthetic form by taking supplements of vitamin E, selenium,
zinc, folic acid and the B-vitamins is beneficial.
quality of protein in appropriate quantity (around 40-50gm
daily) to give your hair a natural shine and good texture.
Include more of sprouted whole grains, cereals, eggs and soy in
green vegetables and orange and yellow fruits and vegetables in
your diet as they are rich in vitamin A, which aids in promoting
a healthy scalp whilst giving body and glow to your hair.
minerals like zinc (present in chicken and eggs), iron (green
leafy vegetables, sesame seeds) and copper (whole grains and
fish) also promote healthy hair.
loaded with artificial colours and preservatives, as they put a
strain on your digestive system and can lead to dull and brittle
hair along with a dehydrated scalp.
proper grooming is very important to keep the hair texture,
growth, shine and lustre in a good condition. Therefore use a
shampoo and conditioner that suits your hair type. Choose
products that are gentle, preferably without any harsh detergent
like sodium lauryl sulfate. For daily washes, use a mild shampoo
that is gentle & moisturising.
your hair with your fingertips; it helps proper blood
circulation in the scalp. Regular massage of hair scalp with amla
paste along with warm coconut oil and lemon has worked wonders
in many cases, frequently reversing the process of greying or
extensive hair fall.
Boiling soaked ritha
and shikakai pods for few minutes and using this liquid
as shampoo has been shown to improve hair health. Soak dried amla
(10-12) overnight and apply the strained water on hair as a
natural conditioner. This will leave your hair smooth and shiny
and also stop premature greying of your hair.
regularly for about 30-40 minutes 4-5 days in a week promotes
proper blood circulation to hair follicles, thus promoting good
— The writer is
a nutritionist. She treats obesity and related health disorders
online. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org /