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.

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