Tuesday, March 22, 2011

25 and Gray: Vitamin B deficiency?

by Piper Weiss, Shine Staff

How old were you when you got your first gray hair? If you were younger than 35, you're technically a premature grayer. But then we all are. New research, published in the Daily Mail, finds almost a third of women under 30 are already going gray. It's a 14 percent rise from 20 years ago, according to John Frieda, the haircare brand that commissioned the research. (Yes, it's convenient that a company that sells hair-color products is behind the study.)

On average, women are said to go gray between 35 or 40, when the body starts producing less melanin, the pigment responsible for hair color. Some people start the graying process as early as their teens, but that segment of the population used to be more of an anomaly. Not anymore.

This new survey finds 32 percent of women going gray before they hit their 30th birthdays. Within that demographic, two-thirds are blaming their early sign of aging on stress . In the past few years, studies have shown a marked upturn in anxiety among women. A 2008 study by the American Psychological Association reported an increase in stress among women, with 80 percent citing anxiety due to the economic climate.

So it's the economy, stupid? Kind of. Stress-related vitamin deficiency can be a factor in graying hair. "We know that stress uses up vitamin B, and experiments with black rats deprived of B vitamins resulted in their hair going white," Philip Kingsley, author of The Hair Bible tells the Mail. But genetics and smoking can also play a role in hair-color loss. One study by the Maine Center for Osteoporosis Research and Education found a link between premature graying and a family history of osteoporosis.

Then there's the fact that women are more likely than ever to 'fess up about going gray. In the past year, silver has become a sign of sophistication, success and high fashion. In April, Calvin Klein's creative director Francisco Costa sent gray-and-proud model Kristen McMenamy down his runway. And teen style blogging sensation Tavi Gevinson, made the front row circuit with hair dyed only a shade or two lighter than Dorothy Zbornak . That's not to say all women in their 20's are embracing the look, but they may be more honest about their coloring process.

I got my first gray last year at 29 and I almost had a fit! I will be making sure that I take more vitamin B and continue to employ stress management techniques.

Do you think gray hairs result from genetics, stress or vitamin deficiency?

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