Causes for Premature Gray Hair

Gray hair is common in people as they age and hair follicles lose pigmentation. Premature graying is an entirely different story. An individual of Caucasian descent is considered to be experiencing premature graying if it occurs before the age of 20, or before the age of 30 for African-Americans. There are several reasons for premature graying.

Early graying of the hair is often referred to as Marie Antoinette syndrome. The French queen’s hair reportedly turned white the night before she was put to death by guillotine during the French Revolution at the age of 38.


If an individual’s parents or grandparents experienced early graying, especially the paternal line, chances are they will, too. There’s nothing anyone can do about their genetics, but color treating the hair is one option. Some people in their 20s and 30s are even experimenting with gray styles and anyone tired of dying their locks can simply say they’re trying a new trend.


Everyone has stress in their life that can lead to multiple types of health problems. A recent Harvard University study proved that chronic stress can cause gray hair. It triggers the body’s fight or flight response, causing it to release specific chemicals that grays the hair.

Autoimmune Disease

Bacteria, fungal and viral pathogens enter the body, but viral infections are especially successful in overstimulating the immune system. Autoimmune diseases such as vitiligo and alopecia can cause premature graying.

Thyroid Disorder

An overabundance or deficiency in thyroid hormones can cause graying.

Vitamin B12 and D3

A deficiency in vitamin B23 or D3 can result in graying hair. Vitamin B12 is required for the formation of DNA, blood cells, and brain and nerve cells. D3 helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus.


Smoking elicits the same reaction in the body as chronic stress. It introduces free radicals into the body that results in damage to DNA, along with the cells responsible for hair pigmentation.

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