Getting grays is an inevitable part of aging. That said, we're all for women embracing whatever it is makes them feel best—natural or otherwise—at any age. But, if you're noticing some grays and are looking to stave it off, there are lifestyle changes you can make to slow down the clock.
While obvious things like smoking and stress contribute to premature graying, nutrition also plays an important role. It turns out certain nutritional deficiencies have a high association with going gray—so, supplementing your diet with foods high in specific vitamins may help keep your hair its natural color for longer. We did some research and narrowed down five unlikely foods that can actually help prevent gray hair. Head below to discover what foods to consider.
A deficiency in vitamin B9—also called folic acid or folate—is associated with hair turning gray sooner than it should. B9 is important for the production of methionine, an amino acid that's essential for hair color, and also helps with the production of DNA and RNA. Lentils are a terrific source of B9, and chickpeas also contain some of the highest concentrations of B9.
We sometimes turn to fish oils for shinier, stronger hair, but they can also aid with helping maintain our natural hair color. Changes in hormone levels can spur early graying and salmon contains selenium, an essential mineral that helps to regulate the production of hormones. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to premature graying, and salmon and other fatty fish provide a healthy dose, as well as other important nutrients like omega 3 and protein.
Miso has long been used by the Japanese to help keep hair shiny, healthy, and dark. Made from fermented soybeans, miso is rich in living enzymes. Not just good for your gut, fermented foods in general—like pickles, sauerkraut, or kimchi—are claimed to be beneficial in preventing premature graying.
Another Japanese beauty secret is turning to seaweed to help keep hair dark. A potential vegan source of collagen, seaweed may help to naturally boost hair health. Some seaweed, as well as other sea plants, are also rich in zinc, vitamins A and C, and beta-carotene, all of which are important for healthy hair.
This may make some cringe, but liver actually tops most lists for foods that help prevent gray hair. Liver is rich in a handful of nutrients that help keep hair healthy and pigmented, including vitamin B12, copper, iron, and vitamin B9. B12 aids in the products of DNA and RNA and works with folic acid to produce red blood cells, all essential to maintaining healthy hair. As we age, our ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food decreases, and B12 deficiency is a major culprit that contributes to premature graying. Low iron and copper levels are also associated with premature graying and low levels of folic acid are associated with melanin deficiency, which causes hair to lose color.
Above all, it's important to remember that gray is still beautiful. Here are gorgeous gray hairstyles for women of all ages.
Daulatabad D, Singal A, Grover C, Chhillar N. Prospective analytical controlled study evaluating serum biotin, vitamin B12, and folic acid in patients with premature canities. Int J Trichology. 2017;9(1):19-24. doi:10.4103/ijt.ijt_79_16
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Kumar AB, Shamim H, Nagaraju U. Premature graying of hair: review with updates. Int J Trichology. 2018;10(5):198-203. doi:10.4103/ijt.ijt_47_18