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What Causes Black Hair to Turn Grey? Vitamin Remedies for Grey Hair

Updated on August 11, 2012

If you told family and friends that you just heard of a cure for grey hair, they may laugh or at least appear to be skeptical. Most people believe that going grey is one of the inevitable misfortunes of growing old. The truth is some people go grey in their twenties. Understanding what causes hair to turn grey, is the key to knowing how to treat and prevent it.

Deep within the hair follicle lies tiny pigment cells called melanocytes. These cells manufacturer the pigment known as melanin, which gives hair its color. The greater the concentration of melanin, the darker the hair color. Hydrogen peroxide, a bleaching agent produced by the body, which effects the amount of melanin produced, is regulated by an enzyme called catalase. When the enzyme is lacking, the body produces too much hydrogen peroxide, which diminishes melanin, resulting in grey hair.

According to traditional chinese medicine (TCM), hair health reflects the strength of the kidneys and the quality of the blood. Weak liver blood and kidneys are believed to be the underlying causes of greying hair and rapid aging.

Poor diet and smoking have been found to cause deficiencies in important nutrients needed for healthy liver and kidney function. According to TCM it’s important to avoid excessive consumption of dairy, red meat and salt. Foods believed to be effective at strengthening the kidneys and the blood include chlorophyl (rich sources are green, leafy vegetables), blackstrap molasses, black sesame seeds, hijiki seaweed, nettles and wheatgrass.

Recent studies with animals have revealed that certain nutrients, which still have not been positively identified, have the ability to reverse grey hair, and restore normal color. The experiments were conducted at the laboratories of Dr. Agnes Fay Morgan of the University of California less than a year ago.

The animals were fed a mixture made by shaking water solutions of liver or rice bran and yeast with Fuller's earth. For several months, the animals were fed a diet that contained four B vitamins separated from the mixture. After the time had elapsed, they began to go grey and look less healthy. After being fed this diet, they were fed a diet with the filtrate that contained all the nutrients from the mixture. Before long, there normal hair color and appearance returned. Other recent studies have been conducted with similar results.

Many researchers believe that pantothenic acid is responsible for restoring and preventing grey hair. Others believe it is involved but that it needs to work with other nutrients to be effective. Another B vitamin, para-aminobenzoic acid has also been found effective in restoring original hair color in animal tests conducted.

There are many factors that may contribute to how effective key nutrients are in restoring normal hair color. The best approach to treating and preventing grey hair is to abstain from unhealthy foods and tobacco which weaken the liver and kidneys. Consume a healthy diet, particularly foods rich in nutrients thought to strengthen the kidney and liver. A liver and kidney will help maintain the appropriate production of hair pigment. Supplementing with key nutrients (high quality multivitamin/mineral supplement) believed to restore natural hair color may also be beneficial. For supplement information click here to fill out the client profile form.


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    • whynot1 profile image

      whynot1 4 years ago

      Good hub with good information on graying hair! Voted up!

    • Collisa profile image

      Columba Smith 5 years ago from California

      Interesting! I hope they hurry up and figure the rest out before hair color chemicals do me in!

    • stevemark122000 profile image

      stevemark122000 5 years ago from Southern California

      Interesting comment! Where are your references? PABA is a naturally occurring B vitamin. This means that we don't need to obtain it from the diet, but we consume foods all the time that contain non-essential nutrients and give no harmful side effects. In excess, it could be harmful but the same could be said of any substance.

    • profile image

      Michelle 5 years ago

      - PABA, - isn't safe tho. - It's a non-essential "nutrient" and it's extremely hard on one's Liver!

    • profile image 6 years ago

      good information although I keep waiting for my hair to turn gray or white (I am a natural blonde) and way south of 60. I will try this on my husband- would rather have people around us think that I was the one going with a 'younger' partner . . LOL



    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Interesting to learn about what's at the root of grey hair!

    • stevemark122000 profile image

      stevemark122000 6 years ago from Southern California

      I use Daily Power Packs for men. If you want to learn more about them you can fill out the information form by clicking on the link at the end of this hub.

    • jrcemail profile image

      jrcemail 6 years ago

      Very good to know! I've got to get a good multivitamin, any recommendations?

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 7 years ago from Great Britain

      That was a great read. I had absolutely no idea that grey hair was caused by anything other than natural aging. Thank you.

    • OldenbuzzDotCom profile image

      OldenbuzzDotCom 7 years ago

      Great hub. A homemade herbal hair color is good to use while waiting for good nutrition to erase those grays.

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks for this highly informative hub stevemark! I could use the info here.

    • packerpack profile image

      Om Prakash Singh 7 years ago from India, Calcutta

      Thanks Steve for this Hub. This was really helpful. I will turn 30 this year and already have so many grey hairs already. Thanks for letting us know about the food that we should include in our diet!!

    • jiberish profile image

      jiberish 7 years ago from florida

      Thank goodness for hair dye! Good info!

    • stevemark122000 profile image

      stevemark122000 7 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks for your comment Pamela!

      Ocbill, studies have shown that in cases where pantothenic acid had no effect, para-aminobenzoic acid was effective at reversing grey, but an overall improvement in diet, particularily B complex is important because researchers are still not sure how nutrients work together to restore normal color.

    • ocbill profile image

      ocbill 7 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      so I see para-aminobenzoic acid is found in grains. I wish I knew which was more effective.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      Steve, A very informative article.

    • surefire profile image

      surefire 7 years ago

      Highly informative

    • stevemark122000 profile image

      stevemark122000 7 years ago from Southern California

      Fucsia, I know, those rats have a tough life.

      Bill, copper may certainly be a factor. Researchers have found that several nutrients are probably involved. More studies need to be done.

    • profile image

      Bill Beavers 7 years ago

      Very informative article. I had heard somewhere gray hair was caused by the lack of Copper in the system.

    • fucsia profile image

      fucsia 7 years ago

      thanks for the information (even if not of agreement with the experiments on animals!) .... once again healthy nutrition helps us!