As baby boomers age in America, more attention than ever is being given to ways to hide or reverse gray hair. Hair care specialist Philip Kingsley says, "I have seen tens of thousands of people over the years, and none of them wants gray hair. It can really make people feel old before their time." Learn what vitamins can help prevent or slow down the graying of your hair. Or reverse the graying of your hair with supplements or food if you are prematurely gray.
Gray Hair Causes
Hair turns gray when there is a decrease in the number of stem cells in hair follicles. According to Emi Nishimura of Tokyo Medical and Dental University in Japan, cells called melanocytes, which give color to your hair, become damaged or die, causing your hair to turn gray.
Learn how to handle stress, a possible cause of gray hair. Tyler Cymet, head of family medicine at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, suspects that going gray is "genetically outlined, but stress and lifestyle give you variation of plus or minus five to 10 years."
Quit smoking. Smokers are four times more likely to have gray hair than nonsmokers. Smoking also speeds up hair loss once that process has begun.
Premature Gray Hair
According to Alan Greene, M.D., gray hair in young people usually happens because there's a lack of nutrition in their diets. A vitamin B-12 deficiency is commonly cited as a cause for premature gray hair. Get your child's blood tested if he has gray hair. It could be genetic or a B-12 deficiency. Understand you can help keep your hair from turning gray or slow it down by taking certain vitamin supplements. Eat foods high in these vitamins also for darker hair.
Anti-Gray B Vitamins
Prevent your hair from turning gray by daily taking 300 mg of vitamin B5, also called pantothenic acid. Thicken your hair with B5 also. Eat egg yolks, organ meats, whole grains and brewer's yeast. Drink carrot juice for a B5 source. National certified counselor Howard Rosenthal, Ph.D., says vitamin B5 not only fights premature gray hair but raises his client's moods, sometimes better than prescription antidepressants.
Produce melanin in your body and restore your hair color by taking four mg daily of vitamin B6. Find B6 in egg yolks, whole grain cereals, organ meats, brewer's yeast and vegetables.
Prevent premature gray hair by taking vitamin B-12 supplements. Food sources are fish, meat, eggs, milk and spirulina.
Take Para-Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA). Ingest 300-400 mcg daily.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., says, "Then for the darkening of the hair, interestingly, soy products might influence that. Leafy green vegetables have something called paba in it. P-a-b-a. It's a precursor to folic acid, and those actually seem to allow hair to turn darker. It doesn't necessarily turn gray hair to dark hair but might make the hair you have darker."
Biotin (Vitamin H)
Take 300 mcg of biotin, also called vitamin H, daily to prevent your hair from graying. Grow your hair and increase your hair's strength with biotin also. Eat egg yolks, brown rice, whole grains, liver, milk and brewer's yeast for a food source. Understand that biotin strengthens your hair and works to prevent your hair from turning gray by helping to produce keratin.
Tips and Warnings
Dr. Oz and Michael F. Roizen, M.D, authors of "YOU: Staying Young," suggest the ideal amount of vitamins to take daily and say, "Take half in the morning and half at night to keep a constant vitamin level in your blood during the day."