4 Common Vitamin Deficiencies For Gray Hair 

Gray hair is a natural part of maturing and happens to just about everybody; few people get away from life without at least some gray hair. However, that’s not quite how people perceive these silver hairs when they mature. Many people experience severe emotional health problems and self-esteem issues, while others are okay with it…it all depends on an individual’s underlying self-esteem.

However, gray hair causes can be a little confusing to some people, especially premature graying. Why do some people develop gray hair long before their peers? Well, vitamin deficiencies and gray hair issues are very common because vitamins help maintain hair color and health and keep you looking young. While good vitamins don’t prevent early graying, they can help reduce your risk in many ways.

In this article, you’ll learn what vitamin deficiencies cause gray hair and what you can do to fight back against this common problem. Furthermore, you’ll learn what kinds of vitamins can support your hair color and health and even potentially at least halt gray hair development: reversal is a completely different subject. Let’s dive in to learn more about what you can expect in this process.

Understanding Common Vitamin Deficiencies Linked to Grey Hair

Problems with vitamin deficiencies grey hair and dietary issues typically center on four nutrients: Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Iron, and Zinc. Understanding how these vitamins help with premature grey hair and grey hair causes can help you choose grey hair remedies that make sense for you.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Grey Hair

Vitamin B12 is essential for overall health and particularly for hair protection. It supports healthy blood cell growth and strengthens hair follicles to help prevent premature grey hair.

Vitamin D Deficiency and Premature Greying

In several studies, it was found that lower vitamin D levels lead to early greying — particularly when tied in with lower serum levels due to B12 and other types of vitamin issues.

Iron Deficiency Anemia and Grey Hair

Anemia is caused by a lack of iron in your blood and causes a broad array of symptoms, including grey or white hair, fatigue, shortness of breath, pale skin, and general weakness.

Zinc Deficiency and Hair Pigmentation

Healthy zinc levels can help support your hair pigmentation, and deficiencies can cause early greying and make people look older in other ways…including early wrinkles.

causes of grey hair

Causes and Risk Factors of Grey Hair

While vitamin deficiencies and grey hair issues are quite common, grey hair causes are as diverse as genetics, lifestyle choices, and stress. Premature greying triggers like these can help dictate which grey hair remedies make the most sense for you, so pay close attention to these issues.

Genetic Factors in Premature Greying

Did your mom or dad go grey early, or even your grandparents? Well, that kind of tendency gets passed down from generation to generation and can impact how early you go grey. Is there anything you can do to fight this problem? Not really…beyond minimizing your vitamin deficiencies.

Environmental and Lifestyle Influences

Have you started going grey much earlier than anyone else in your family? Lifestyle factors and stress might be at play here. Stress—particularly prolonged and chronic stress—disrupts melanocyte stem cells, causing a lack of melanin and hair color with time.

Furthermore, lifestyle choices like smoking, drinking alcohol, poor dietary choices, medical conditions, and even pollutants can cause early greying. Thankfully, vitamin deficiencies are among the easiest of these issues to manage and can help minimize your risk of early grey hair.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Vitamin Deficiencies

While grey hair isn’t necessarily reversible — once it’s gone grey, that’s the way it’ll stay — vitamin deficiencies in grey hair and other grey hair causes can be managed. By noting these early symptoms of premature greying, you can find grey hair remedies that make sense for your needs.

a doctor discusses vitamins can help grey hair

Recognizing Signs of Vitamin Deficiencies

Symptoms of vitamin deficiencies will vary depending on many factors. For example, specific nutrient losses cause different symptoms, greatly impacting your health. When it comes to grey hair vitamins, these symptoms include:

  • B12: Fatigue, pale skin, weight loss, numbness, tingling in the arms and legs.
  • D: Low calcium levels, bone pain, joint pain, fractures, muscle twitching, weakness.
  • Iron: Extreme fatigue, weakness, chest pain, headache, fast heartbeat, brittle nails.
  • Zinc: Unexplained weight loss, unhealing wounds, confusion, diarrhea, loss of appetite.

Medical Tests for Assessing Nutritional Status

Testing for vitamin deficiencies can ensure you get the treatment you need to stay healthy. Thankfully, your physician can provide multiple diagnostic processes, including malnutrition screenings, blood tests, and other exams to spot potential deficiencies in your body.

Prevention and Management Strategies

The worst vitamin deficiencies in grey hair issues are a major factor in grey hair causes and can trigger premature greying in many people. If you’re trying out these grey hair remedies for your needs, you can also prevent this problem by focusing on careful management strategies that make sense for you.

Foods Rich in Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Iron, and Zinc

Fighting grey hair by improving your vitamin levels is smart — it not only supports your hair but keeps you healthy and happy. That’s a benefit you simply shouldn’t ignore…especially if you can integrate the following healthy foods into your diet and keep yourself strong and healthy:

  • Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is available in a pretty broad array of different foods, which makes it an excellent option for those trying to manage grey hairs. Try to add organ meats, clams, sardines, beef, fortified cereal, tuna, nutritional yeast, trout, salmon, nondairy milk, eggs, and dairy to your diet.
  • Vitamin D: A little time out in the sun — UV rays help promote vitamin D production — can help you out significantly here. However, you can also get this nutrient from herring, salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, lichen, mushrooms, and various fortified foods: milk, butter, whole eggs, and yogurt.
  • Iron: Iron is mostly commonly found in red and white meat: beef, clams, lamb, turkey, ham, veal, pork, liver, shrimp, and even eggs. However, even legumes like lentils, canned peas, beans, tofu, tempeh, and peas have iron, as does enriched white bread, bran cereals, cornmeal, and pasta (enriched).
  • Zinc: Sometimes tricky to find in foods, zinc is one of the most highly supplemented nutrients in the world. However, you can get it in oysters, beef, beef liver, lamb, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, sunflower seeds, lentils, turkey breast, eggs, sardines, and shiitake mushrooms.

Integrating these foods into your diet can help keep you healthy and minimize potential grey hair risks. It’s almost always better to get your vitamins through your food rather than through supplements. However, it’s also a good idea to add supplements if you need them.

Recommended Daily Allowances and Supplements

If, for any reason, you can’t get healthy levels of these vitamins in your food every day, you can try supplements. Importantly, you should follow your doctor’s recommended dosing levels to stay safe. These can vary based on the vitamin, so make sure you read on to learn more about these levels:

  • Vitamin B12: Most physicians suggest no more than 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 per day for people over 14. If you have a severe deficiency, you might need to take higher levels, particularly if you’re older and have a genetic predisposition towards vitamin deficiencies.
  • Vitamin D: Most people need 600 IU of vitamin D (15 micrograms) daily to stay healthy. If you’re over 70, your doctor may suggest increasing to 20 micrograms or 800 IU. This higher level can keep your body healthy and minimize the risks of deficiencies that may impact you.
  • Iron: Your iron intake varies depending on your age…if you’re reading this, you’re likely between 19-50 years old and need 8 mg if you’re a man and 18 if you’re a woman (27 mg when pregnant, and 9 when lactating). After 51 years, men and women need 8 mg daily to stay healthy.
  • Zinc: Zinc allowances are pretty cut and dry compared to other vitamins: women need 8 mg per day, while men need 11 mg. If you don’t get a lot of zinc in your diet naturally (most people don’t), try to find a supplement that covers most, if not all, of this dose to stay healthy and avoid grey hair.

Can’t you just take a megadose of these vitamins and call it good? No, because vitamin overdoses are possible and very problematic. They can cause surprising health issues and must be avoided as much as possible. Only take heavy doses as prescribed by your doctor — only for a specific period.

Stress Management and Self-Care Practices

Dealing with stress is important for our day-to-day lives: that fight-or-flight reaction is simply not necessary for most people. Thankfully, self-care activities can decrease your anxiety and help you balance your fear. Just a few options that may work well for you include:

  • Exercising regularly to get blood pumping and to release healthy serotonin levels
  • Meditating carefully to clear the mind and relieve anxiety as it spreads in your body
  • Listen to relaxing music that calms your mind and minimizes your anxiety and fears
  • Aromatherapy treatments that use calming odors to relax your mind and body
  • Finding creativity or leisure activities that give you plenty of unique opportunities for joy
  • Yoga and stretching exercises that help calm your mind and body and keep you happy

Consulting a Healthcare Professional

Now that you understand vitamin deficiencies and grey hair issues, it’s important to know how your doctor can help you with premature greying. By understanding grey hair causes and grey hair remedies with a physician, you can ensure you get the results that you deserve.

Seeking Professional Guidance

As there’s currently no medical treatment for grey hair, your options here are limited. It’s best to talk to a counselor or psychologist if your grey hair impacts your emotional health. However, you can also get vitamin deficiency support — smart for reasons beyond your grey hair.

Treatment Options for Vitamin Deficiencies

Managing vitamin deficiencies includes getting injections into your muscles that use concentrated vitamins, swallowing extensive vitamin pills, utilizing vitamin tablets or liquids, and trying out nose gels or sprays. The options vary depending on your specific needs, which is very beneficial.

Sean Byers, MD

Sean Byers, MD

Sean Byers is currently a Resident in the Internal Medicine program at UTMB. He studied at the University of Queensland School of Medicine as well as received his Master’s in Public Health with a focus in epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Southern California. His background is in biology, computer science, public health, and internal medicine.

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