Premature Greying: Why It Happens


Uh oh, have you got a case of the greys? And why is it happening so early? 

Watching grey hair sprout up during your late teens, early twenties or even late twenties for that matter, can understandably cause some distress.  

First: it’s normal for hair colour to change as you age. If you’re an outdoorsy person, just being out in the sun can lighten hair naturally. However, grey hair can appear at almost any age. Genetics, race, ethnicity and gender all have a say in the colour of your hair and how early or late it starts to grey.

When we talk about premature greying though, it means grey hair before the age of 25.


What causes this?

The skin on your body is lined with millions of hair follicles or tiny sacs. The follicles create hair and melanin-containing pigment cells. We can blame grey hair on the loss of pigment cells by the hair follicles. 

Here are a few common causes of premature greying.



Genes are irreversible and can significantly influence the chances of premature grey hair. If you start going grey or notice grey hair at a young age, look no further than your family tree. Did your parents or grandparents have premature greying hair? 


Autoimmune disease 

If you have an autoimmune disease, premature grey hair may be one of the unpleasant effects. An autoimmune disease happens when the immune system attacks its own cells. Immune system attacks on hair can result in pigment loss.


Thyroid disorder 

At the base of your neck lies a butterfly-shaped gland called the thyroid. This little gland helps maintain different biological processes, including your metabolism. Your thyroid's condition might also affect the colour of your hair. Your body may create less melanin if your thyroid is hyperactive or underactive. 



Stress strikes again! Did you know that stress can even affect your hair? Yep, it’s true, so to manage all aspects of your health, find proactive ways to destress and lower your stress levels.


Vitamin B12 deficiency 

This vitamin is crucial for your body’s functioning, and a deficiency could spark those grey hairs to arrive sooner than later. Vitamin B12 helps with healthy hair development and hair colour. When your body can't absorb enough of this vitamin, it leads to a condition known as pernicious anaemia. You need Vitamin B12 for healthy red blood cells to deliver oxygen to all the cells in your body. 



It’s always bad news when you light up. Besides the effects on your heart and lungs, smoking is also a no-no for your hair. Smoking narrows blood vessels, which can lower the amount of blood reaching hair follicles and result in hair loss. What’s more, the toxins from cigarettes can harm your body's tissues and trigger thinning hair. 


How do I stop the greys? 

Unfortunately, there’s no stopping premature greying. Instead, it’s best to look at your lifestyle and see how you can be a bit healthier. Quit smoking and boost your Vitamin B12 by upping your intake of eggs, salmon, tuna and low-fat dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese. If you’re not able to follow a diet rich in B12 foods, talk to your doctor about taking supplements.


This article is for informational purposes only. Always check with your doctor or medical practitioner about any health concerns, before embarking on any fitness or nutrition programme, and usage of any medication.