Prematurely greying hair: The five vitamin and mineral deficiencies which can cause it

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Even though hair comes in different forms and may vary between people, it is all largely made of the same materials. Hair loses its colour when hair produces less melanin, and greying often begins at your temples and then moves back to the top of your scalp. Hair loss is also natural, though if you are losing more than 125 hairs a day you may notice thinning. There are a couple types of hair loss and several possible causes, including vitamin deficiency.

A research case published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine says that many deficiencies can influence grey hair.

Indeed, iron, vitamin D, folate, vitamin B12, and selenium are vitamins and minerals that may be involved in hair graying prematurely.

It says that during childhood or early adulthood, and “supplementing these deficient micronutrients can improve premature graying”.

The research states: “We recommend screening for these vitamins and minerals in patients presenting with premature graying of hair and subsequent supplementation of the deficient micronutrients.”

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For healthy hair growth, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are essential. Indeed, the New Jersey Hair Restoration Center says the nutrient deficiencies that cause hair loss are varied.

The site says that an iron deficiency “is a very common” form of nutrient deficiency and a major cause of hair loss.

As iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the bloodstream, without enough iron, the blood cells cannot deliver enough oxygen to the body, resulting in symptoms like hair loss, brittle nails, and fatigue.

Hair Restoration also says that zinc is a “crucial nutrient for healthy hair” as it plays a “vital role in cell and immune function and protein synthesis”.

Moreover, it notes that vitamin D “stimulates cell growth, boosts immunity, leads to better skin and stronger bones, and stimulates old and new hair follicles”.

Generally, humans shed between 50 and 100 single hairs per day, according to the Mayo Clinic.

It adds that preventing hair loss is not possible when it is due to disease, ageing, heredity or physical stressors like injuries.

Nonetheless, if it is due to a nutrient deficiency you may be able to incorporate more into your diet, or take supplements.

Hair loss, known medically as alopecia, is fairly common. It’s estimated, for instance, that around 40 percent of women aged 70 years or over experience female-pattern baldness.

Finasteride and minoxidil are the main treatments for male pattern baldness. Minoxidil can also be used to treat female pattern baldness. Women should not use finasteride.

The Cleveland Clinic says: “It is important to note that premenopausal women should not take medications for hair loss treatment without using contraception.

“Many drugs, including minoxidil and finasteride, are not safe for pregnant women or women who want to get pregnant.”

Other hair loss treatments include steroid injections and creams, as well as immunotherapy.

Some people also choose to have hair transplants, which is when hair is removed from the back of the head and moved to thinning patches.

Some wigs are available on the NHS, but you may have to pay unless you qualify for financial help.

If your hair loss is causing you distress, your GP may be able to help you get some counselling.

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