Gray hair is one of the dreaded signs of aging that causes men and women to spend their hard earned dollars on boxes of hair dye and services at beauty salons. The little strands of hair lose their colors a few at a time until they eventually cover the head.
Most people do turn gray, but not everybody does. The reason that people turn gray has been a perplexing mystery that people have tried to figure out for ages.
If we do not know what causes gray hair it is difficult to know how to prevent the loss of pigment in the hair. Could graying be delayed by diet, nutrition and vitamins? If we knew the cause, maybe someone could say for sure and could take the necessary steps to retain hair color.
We may be coming closer to having an answer to this perplexing question. A team of scientists from Europe have discovered a reason that hair turns gray. The European research is published in The FASEB Journal.
New research shows that graying of the hair is caused by a buildup on hydrogen peroxide in the system. Peroxide blocks the production of melanin, which is the hair’s natural pigment.
The Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal, Gerald Weissmann, MD; made a statement about the study. He said that as we get older all of our hair cells make a tiny amount of hydrogen peroxide. As we get older our cells make a lot of peroxide that turns hair first gray and then white.
The research presented makes an important first step to getting to the root of the problem.
The European research examines cell cultures of human hair follicles and found that hydrogen peroxide build up because an enzyme that breads it up into water and oxygen. The hair follicles were not able to repair the damage cause by hydrogen peroxide.
High levels of hydrogen peroxide and other factors can disrupt formation of an enzyme that leads to melanin production in hair follicles. Melanin is the pigment that influences hair color, eye color and skin color.
Researchers also speculated that the skin condition vitiligo could be caused by a similar breakdown.
Pigment in the hair can make a person feel younger and more attractive. As people lose their hair pigment, they turn to boxes of hair dye or salon services to maintain their youthful appearance.
It would be wonderful if science could find a conclusive answer to the mystery of why hair turns gray and to come up with a way to prevent gray hair.
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology: No longer a gray area: Our hair bleaches itself as e grow older. Press release dated February 23, 2009. EurekAlert.
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