Folic Acid Deficiency – can it affect hair colour

Folic acid (Vitamin B9) is an essential nutrient important to many bodily processes, and deficiencies in folic acid can result in a variety of health issues, but few of them are as visibly noticeable as those that affect the hair.

Folic acid deficiency can cause premature greying of the hair. It can also lead to hair loss, but greying of the hair is often the lesser of the two evils because once levels of folic acid are returned to a normal level the natural hair color will usually also make a return.

What is Folic Acid and How Does it Contribute to Healthy Hair?

Folic acid and vitamin B9Folic acid is one of eight B vitamins essential to normal health. In a healthy body, where a balanced diet provides an adequate amount of B vitamins, their combined properties perform many functions.

But folic acid is of particular importance to the hair because it contributes to the production of genetic material, such as DNA and RNA, and assists the correct division and growth of cells—including those found in hair follicles—so a deficiency of this important vitamin will inhibit normal hair growth.

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Symptoms of Folic Acid Deficiency

Although greying hair or a balding head are the more visible signs that the body is receiving an insufficient amount of folic acid, many other symptoms may warn of the problem before greying or balding occur, and it should be noted that folic acid deficiency is a relatively common problem. Excessive consumption of alcohol and the use of some prescription medications can trigger a deficiency, as can certain diseases, such as celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

Common symptoms of folic acid deficiency include:

  • Gingivitis
  • Poor appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Inflamed tongue
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of energy
  • Irritability

Obviously, anyone who suffers from any of the above symptoms for an extended period of time should seek medical advice. Folic acid deficiencies should always be addressed because any prolonged lack of this vital vitamin can lead to more worrying problems, including, ulcers, anemia, and elevated levels of homocystein (a contributing factor for heart disease).

Natural Sources of Folic Acid

The RDA of folic acid (for adults) is 400 mcg a day and most people who are in normal health, and enjoy a balanced diet, will probably attain a sufficient quantity from their food.

Good sources of folic acid include: Green vegetables, Turnips, Asparagus, Whole grains, Beetroot, Avocado Pears, Salmon, Brewer’s yeast

Many breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals—including folic acid—so the benefits of a healthy breakfast cannot be dismissed. Multivitamin capsules are also a good way to top-up folic acid levels and may be the most convenient option for people who consider their lives too hectic to allow for a balanced diet.

Keeping the Grey Away

Although a few people actually prefer the “silver fox” look, the majority of us will grab for the nearest bottle of hair dye at the first sign of a grey hair. Grey hair is associated with old age and nobody wants to look or feel old—even if they are old and feel it every minute of the day.

Grey hair may be unwelcome, but it is a natural part of the ageing process and most people will just have to accept this sooner or later and add a few bottles of dye to their shopping lists. “Later” cannot be prevented, but there is no need for anyone to go grey “sooner” than the average healthy person of a similar age.

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Modern day life is hectic and feelings of stress and anxiety can rob the body of folic acid and other vital nutrients. The matter is only made worse by the fact that fast, hectic lifestyles can also result in a reliance on fast food, too little sleep, and too much alcohol to “unwind” after a hard day at work. If lifestyle choices like this persist, it will not be long before the silver fox comes knocking at the door, but a few sensible changes for the better can result in a healthy body and a healthy head of hair.

  • Cut back on alcohol
  • Allow time for adequate sleep
  • Eat a balanced diet and top up with vitamins if (absolutely) necessary
  • Combat stress by taking up yoga or meditation

In Conclusion

stress and the effect on hair colourAlthough some people are more genetically prone to early greying, and grey hair will come to us all sooner or later, the risk of early greying can be minimized, and in many cases avoided, by people who make healthy lifestyle and diet choices.

People who have already gone grey before their time can also take heart because premature grey hairs can often be banished when folic acid levels return to a reasonable level, allowing the true hair color to shine through.

Can too much stress lead to greying hair

Can what we eat turn our hair grey – Poor diet and its effect on greying hair

can a bad diet make out hair turn greyThe importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet can never be overstated because nutritional inconsistencies can result in many health problems—and that includes the early onset of grey hair.

Many people may be surprised to learn this, due to the commonly-held opinion that some people grey sooner than others because it in their genetic makeup to do so, or that their new salt and pepper look is the result of stress and worry.

Although both these things may contribute to early greying—for some people—in many cases it isn’t “the stress” or those “bad genes” that are the problem. It’s a bad diet and that is good news because a bad diet can always be improved.

Several vitamin and minerals are known to be of particular importance to the hair.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6 plays an important role in encouraging a healthy head of hair by ensuring the smooth assimilation of necessary nutrients.

The hair receives its color from a substance called melanin. This is produced in the hair follicles, but the natural ageing process reduces the body’s ability to manufacture melanin and this is one of the main factors that contribute to the normal greying of hair, associated with old age.

When bad dietary practices result in a lack of vitamin B6 the follicles are starved of this essential vitamin and can no longer produce a sufficient amount of melanin, resulting in an early onset of grey hair.

Natural sources of vitamin B6 include chicken, tuna, bananas and spinach.

Vitamin B12 and Folate

Vitamin B12 and Folate are both important for producing the proteins and red blood cells the body needs to build and repair bodily tissues—including hair. The two work together as a team and sufficient quantities of both will be required by anyone who wishes to have a healthy head of hair, and, indeed, a healthy body.

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Natural sources of vitamin B12 include fish, shellfish, beef and eggs.

Natural sources of folate include chicken, turkey, green beans and citrus fruits.

Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)

The body requires adequate quantities of folic acid to assist with the manufacture of important genetic material such as DNA and RNA and ensure the correct growth and division of cells—including the cells found in the hair follicles. If the diet contains an insufficient amount of folic acid these important processes will be impaired, leading to premature greying of the hair and other bodily disorders.

Natural sources of folic acid include green vegetables, whole grains, beetroot and salmon.


A significant amount of research has been conducted into the relationship between dietary deficiencies and greying of the hair. In one such study, scientists tried to discover if there was a relationship between grey hair and iron, zinc and copper.

The gathered data revealed that most of the grey-haired test subjects had significantly lower levels of copper than those in the control group.  The results of the study were later published in the April, 2012 edition of the scientific journal Biological Trace Elemental Research and the study concluded that copper is necessary to produce the pigment in the skin and hair.

Natural sources of copper include shellfish, bananas, tomatoes and leafy, green vegetables.

The Grey Areas Explained

man with grey hair from the backGrey hair is undeniably a normal part of the ageing process, so it must be accepted that some silver will begin to show amongst the gold sooner or later. But nobody should be forced to accept that change earlier than necessary when it can be so easily avoided by simply making a few dietary changes for the better that will, no doubt, also improve the overall health.

It is also true that some people are more genetically prone to early greying, and certain diseases and medication may also contribute to the problem, but more often than not, when those first  grey hairs make a premature appearance in the hairbrush, they will be the result of a poor diet.

Nobody can escape their genetics, but nutritional problems can be rectified by improving the diet and/or using some form of supplementation to top-up on missing vitamins and minerals. So there is hope for even the greyest of heads if the change in color was the result of a bad diet rather than bad genetics.  It is also worth noting that people who go grey before their time due to nutritional deficiencies often find their natural hair color returns when the problem is addressed.

Can Vitamin B6 Deficiency Cause Grey Hair

Vitamin B6 and the effect it has on hair going greyGrey hair is a natural part of the ageing process, but some people turn grey long before their time. Even the singer, Jennifer Lopez, admits she had to begin hiding grey hairs when she was just 23-years-old. In an interview on US radio she joked, “Once I got started doing movies I started to grey. It was the stress, the pressure.”

Early greying of hair is often attributed to the stress and pressures of life, and while there is a certain amount of truth to this assumption; the unwanted onset of grey hair, earlier than expected, can often be traced to the diet and, more commonly, to deficiencies in vitamin B6.

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What is Vitamin B6 and Why is it Important to the Hair?

Vitamin B6—often called pyridoxine—is one of eight B vitamins. All of them have important roles to play in the body, but vitamin B6 is of particular importance to the hair because it assists the absorption of essential nutrients that are necessary for healthy hair growth.

Hair receives its color from a substance called melanin, which is produced in the hair follicles. As people grow older the melanin production process diminishes, causing the hair to lose much of its natural color and turn grey.  In the case of a younger person though, grey hair is more commonly attributable to dietary deficiencies. An insufficient quantity of vitamin B6 will result in a decreased amount of melanin, which, in turn, results in the early onset of grey hair.

Some Natural Sources of Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 can be found in a variety of different foods including:

Bell PeppersAvocado

Symptoms of Vitamin B6 Deficiency

Grey hair is only one of many symptoms that indicate Vitamin B6 deficiency. Other symptoms include:

  • Convulsion and/or seizures
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Skin disorders
  • Fatigue

Read more about vitamin B6 from Wikipedia

Sustain Levels of Vitamin B6 and Keep the Grey at Bay

Many people have such hectic lives that they become increasingly dependent on fast food and convenience meals, but “fast and convenient” does not always walk hand in hand with “healthy and nutritious”. Although such meals can be tasty, and may be said to “hit the spot”, their lack of essential vitamins and minerals could also be responsible for those spots of premature grey hair that so many people these days are trying so hard to hide. So although a nutritious meal may not live up the old saying and “put hairs on your chest” it may, at least, stop the hairs on your head from turning in the towel and turning grey before their time.

Unfortunately, getting a healthy dose of vitamin B6 into the body only accounts for half of the battle against grey hair. It is also important to ensure the level of vitamin B6 is sustained, and some actions, such as alcohol abuse, can and do cause vitamin B6 to be purged from the body faster than normal.  Some diseases can also result in a deficient level of vitamin B6.

Diseases that may contribute to the loss of vitamin B6 include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis

The use of certain medications can also prove problematic, and with so many ways to lose this important vitamin, many people who would benefit from an extra dose of vitamin B6 may not even realize that a problem exists. So anyone who suddenly notices their hair is greying prematurely should take note, and take a close look at their diet, because it is entirely possible that a lack of vitamin B6 is at the root of their problem.

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