Each and every hair follicle of ours contains pigment cells that produce a chemical called melanin that gives hair its natural color. The lighter or darker color varies depending upon the amount of melanin that each hair contains. As we get older, the pigment cells in the hair follicles die gradually; due to this, the production of melanin reduces, causing the hair color to fade away.
Premature graying of hair in teenagers is a disease condition. The main causes for this condition are heredity, underlying diseases, carelessness in maintenance of hair, drying hair with electric dryers, and vitamin deficiencies.
Mental stress, failures, jealousy, fear, and anxiety interfere with the supply of vital nutrients necessary for healthy hair. Very often, premature graying can be a sign of disease wherein the graying is not only hereditary but is also caused by an underlying disease.
Graying of the hair can occur prematurely in a number of conditions such as hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, pernicious anemia (graying of hair along with symptoms of fatigue, shortness of breath, and possibly chest pain), genetic disorders, and vitamin B12 deficiency.
Werner's syndrome and Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome are two such conditions, which can cause the hair to gray. Prematurely gray hair is often one of the earliest signs of Werner's syndrome, a rare autosomal recessive disorder, which usually is present in a person at about 20 years of age, but sometimes appears as early as eight years.
On the basis of the patient's age and the cause, the treatment and the prognosis of the condition is determined. Everyone's hair does turn gray eventually with advancing age, but there is nothing wrong with trying to delay the process naturally through dietary and lifestyle modifications. In order to ensure the continuous production of melanin for the hair, a steady supply of Para-Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA) is essential.
It is one of the many B-complex vitamins. Pantothenic acid or vitamin B5 is another vitamin, the deficiency of which is known to cause gray hair. It stimulates vitamin utilization and releases energy from food to assure great hair and good skin. Along with folic acid, pantothenic acid helps to restore the hair's natural color and fights premature graying of hair.
Heredity is the most likely cause of premature graying of hair. In such cases, the graying cannot be reversed but can be effectively controlled. Food rich in iodine such as bananas, carrots, and fish are recommended. Almond oil application can control graying. Any mild shampoo with a balanced pH can avoid the acceleration of the condition.
Although surveys conducted in various parts of the world have found that stress can hasten the graying process, there is no scientific evidence to prove the cause-and-effect relationship between the two. In fact, even inadequate sleep and faulty dietary habits can indirectly lead to premature graying.