It's getting more and more common for young people to have grey hair. Some began to have them at their twenties, and we call it “prematurely grey”. There are many reasons for it. Some are more complicated, some have to do with heredity or factors related to body system, while some have to do with all kinds of environmental reasons.
The TCM sees it as a result of deficiency of Yin in kidney. The dysfunction of kidney has caused body metabolism to slow down. The vitality of the hair derives from kidney. Hence, when there is disharmony between heart and kidneys, e.g. insomnia, neurasthenia, it will be reflected through our hair. Therefore, we have to protect our kidney, for instance not to stay late at night, keep our bodies warm, consume less cold drinks and not to hold your pee. In the area of diet, the TCM believes that black coloured food can nourish our kidney. They suggest consuming more black beans, black sesame, black fungus, black dates and black rice, etc.
What does modern medicine say about it?
Modern medicine perceives the reasons are due to excessive anxiety, panic attack, shock and fright, over pressure in life and extreme lethargy. All these will cause spasm to the blood vessels which helps to provide nutrition to hair, causing the secretion of melanin to be dysfunctional, which causes grey hair to grow. For example, death of a family member, difficulties encountered in career, or suffering of a severe sickness. Just within a short period of time, one will grow many grey hairs or even to have the whole head turned white. This is all due to great emotional ups and downs, depression or excessive anxiety. All these cause the liver to suffer Qi stagnation, and poor blood circulation. The blood is unable to nourish the hair and it turns grey.
Furthermore, oxidative stress will aggravate the process of hair turning white. When the body goes through the process of oxidation and produces excessive free radicals, it causes disintegration of cell tissues and leads to imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in the body. Hence, it also causes decrease in melanin, leading to increase in grey hair.
Hair is an appendage to skin, and it needs sufficient nutrition. It is proven in clinical medicine that, if our body is deprived of sufficient protein, vegetable oil, biotin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Vitamin E for a long period of time, our hair will turn grey. In addition, pigment granule found in black hair contains elements like copper, cobalt, iron, zinc, etc. If we lack of these elements, we will have grey hair too.
Hence, keeping the habit of a balanced diet is incredibly important! It is suggested that you consume food which are rich with antioxidants, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and Vitamin E. If there is a need, you can take proper portion of vitamins and supplements. Yet as you grow in age, it is a natural process for your hair to turn grey. But if you are young and you want to maintain black hair, the most important is, of course to keep your heart and body healthy!