Many of us voice out the case of President Obama when we speak about greying hair as his hair color turned dark brown to grey during his tenure as the President. But, one needs to also remember that he aged from 47 to 55 during this tenure, a time when many people’s hair turns grey. Though we introduce stress as the primary factor for change in hair color, the evidences are still inconclusive and it is only our strong gut feeling that supports stress.
Stress does not turn hair grey. In fact, hair does not turn grey at all! Hair follicles produce hair and once done, the color sets. If the color sets as brown, black, red or blond, it is never going to become gray. The logic is that hair follicles produce less color as we age. When hair goes through the repeated process of dying and re-growing, it is likelier that the color sets as gray after the age of 35. The age at which the color sets is determined by genetics too! Stress might not turn your hair grey, but it can cause a condition called telogen effluvium that makes the hair shed out at a 3-times higher pace than normal. While hair growth happens in some time safeguarding you from balding, it is possible that hair grows gray in color (due to less production of color as we age) instead of our natural brown, red or blond color when the person is above middle-age.
History of Hair Color
Surprisingly our hair is initially white in color and gets its natural color from a pigment called melanin whose formation happens even before we are born. The darkness and intensity of our hair color depends on the distribution of the melanin pigment in the middle layer of the hair shaft or cortex. Melanin is composed of specialized pigment cells called melanocytes which inject melanin into cells containing keratin (protein that makes our nails, hair and skin). This process keeps repeating through our years maintaining our hair color. As we age, the melanin production reduces and the hair turn grey/white finally. Certain other factors that contribute to hair pigmentation making it lighter or darker include hormones, genetic defects, body distribution, age, climate, pollutants, toxins and chemical exposure. Apart from these, some people have graying hair due to certain illnesses such as:
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.