Why does your hair turn gray?

After you reach the age of 30, you have 10-20% chances of having your hair turn gray with every 10 years. It is a life fact. Everybody turns gray at one point. But why does this happen?

Your hair color is the result of a pigment called melanin. Each hair spring contains eumelanin (dark melanin) and pheomelanin (light melanin). The result of your hair color is the blending of these two, and that is why most of the people have different hair shades. When you are young melanocytes, special pigment stem cells, are injecting pigment into cells that contain keratin. Keratin is a protein that makes hair and is responsible for the hair color. With age, the melanin levels are reduced, and your hair will turn gray. When there is no melanin left your hair could even turn white.

There is a gene that is linked to gray hair

Nobody wants their hair to turn white. And because of that scientists try to figure out what is the cause of this and what reduces the levels of melanin. International teams all over the world work on this, and recently there was a breakthrough. The first gene linked to “old people’s” hair has been discovered.

Based on a study done on more than 6,000 Latin Americans that involved a genome-wide association scan, the gene was isolated. In the past, this gene was associated with people with blond hair in Europe. But now it has been linked to gray hair in more than 40% of the study participants. The remaining 60% had their hair turn gray due to age, stress, environment and more.

The plan is to look for ways of manipulating the genetic pathway and prevent hair from losing its color. For this, the researchers will use different methods, including drugs, although this is not recommended yet.

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A secret biological clock

According to professors and researchers that study cell biology, the hair follicles are regulated by a “melanogenic clock”. In time this will slow down the activity of the melanocyte cells and your hair will turn white. Age and genetics are at fault for the gene change and the exhaust of the pigment in each hair follicle.

It is a known fact that white people start to lose their hair color around the mid-30s. Asians typically begin to gray in their late 30s and African Americans can start to gray in the mid-40s.

Other things can turn the hair gray

There are other factors why your hair turn gray, such as:

Smoking. There is a strong link between tobacco use and graying hair. Cigarette smoking is linked to premature hair graying even before you turn 30.

Oxidative stress. This can be defined as the state where your antioxidant defenses (from a healthy diet) are outnumbered by the free radicals (from a poor diet, pollution, stress, smoking, and others).

Vitamin B12 deficiency. This vitamin is linked to premature gray hair, and it can even reverse the process if the vitamin deficiency is resolved.

Hydrogen peroxide. This is a well-known tool that is used for hair bleaching. Many people are not aware that hair cells make their own hydrogen peroxide. In time, the amount that is produced increases, and it eventually can bleach away the hair pigment, leaving your hair gray or even white.

If your hair has started to turn gray, you don’t have to worry. Studies about people psychology have determined that gray hair makes you more trustworthy, knowledgeable, and sexier. Also, if you don’t like it, you can even color your hair to look the way you always wanted to.

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