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Graying Hair: 5 Surprising Reasons You Might Be ‘Going Gray’ Before Your Time

by Ileana Paules-Bronet
Ileana is a writer on the Original Content team. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

When I was young, I had a wonderful babysitter — whom I’m actually still close with today.

One of the funny quirks she had was counting her gray hairs. Sometimes, she would even have me and my friends count the gray hairs on her head for her.

I didn’t realize it until recently, but she was in her mid-thirties when she started “going gray.”

A lot of women start going gray in their thirties and forties, and many find it embarrassing. Some women decide to cover up their gray hair and dye it back to the color they had while they were younger — others decide to rock their new look and embrace the gray.

Some women start going gray even earlier though, like in their teens and twenties. This often makes them wonder: is there another reason for the gray hair beyond age?

Read below to find out more about why hair turns gray!

Thumbnail Photo: Instagram / grombre

What Causes Gray Hair?

gray hair causes
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

As most people assume, gray hair is most often caused by aging.

When people get older, the amount of melanin that they produce decreases, and since melanin gives hair its color, the reduction makes people go gray.

But why do some people go gray while still young?

What Counts As Premature Graying?

premature graying
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Most people start to go gray in their mid-thirties or mid-forties.

Generally, people consider premature graying to be losing hair color anytime before age 30, though it depends on your background.

Why Does Hair Prematurely Go Gray?
Reason #1: Genetics

gray hair genes
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

One of the reasons people go gray early is due to genes. If your parents had gray hair in their twenties, you’re more likely to have gray hair at a young age as well.

SELF reports that genes actually play the biggest role in when you start to go gray.

So if your family tree has a lot of salt and pepper in it, don’t be alarmed, it’s just part of your family legacy and nothing to be alarmed about.

Reason #2: Vitamin B-12 Deficiency

gray hair vitamin
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Another reason for premature graying? Having a vitamin B-12 deficiency.

Not having enough vitamin B-12 can make you feel tired, weak, and forgetful, and according to WebMD, it can also make your hair go gray.

You can find vitamin B-12 in a variety of foods, including eggs, milk, fish, poultry, and meat.

Reason #3: Thyroid Gland Problem

gray hair thyroid
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Like having a vitamin B-12 deficiency, having a thyroid problem can cause your hair to go gray before it should, explains WebMD.

Learn more about thyroid cancer in this LittleThings article.

Reason #4: Smoking

gray hair smoking
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

According to a study published in the Indian Dermatology Online Journal, smoking may have an impact on prematurely graying hair.

The authors explain that there is a relationship “between onset of gray hair before the age of 30 and cigarette smoking.”

Reason #5: Stress

gray hair stress
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

The relationship between stress and gray hair has been long debated.

However, Scientific American explains that there is some evidence that stress can contribute to the speed of the graying process, but it isn’t a direct cause-and-effect relationship.

What To Do About Graying Hair

gray hair solutions
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

When your hair starts going gray, there are a few things you can do — you can cover it up or just be happy and live with it!

If you’ve ever found a gray hair on your head, please SHARE this article with your friends!