Question for Dr. Leia: I spent my 20s abusing alcohol and smoking cigarettes.
I have since stopped (am now 32) for the most part. However, I still “fall off” from time to time and go out drinking and smoking (maybe once a month.)
The odd thing is when I wake up the very next day I notice one or two of my eyebrow hairs have turned white!
This ONLY happens after a night of drinking and smoking, which seems so very strange.
Can you offer any insight into what the correlation between drinking, smoking, and premature greying of hair?
Is it toxicity overload or nutritional deficiency or a combination?
I know this might not have a definitive answer but any insight would be very sincerely appreciated…
Dr. Leia’s Answer: Interesting that you should ask this question.
White or graying of hair occurs as we age due to specialized pigment-producing cells called melanocytes.
Melanocytes do become depleted with age, but also with smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, tea, coffee, and oily or fried foods, and some thyroid conditions. Also, smoking deletes nutrition.
There are no fool-proof methods of preventing graying of your hair, but you can experiment with the following advice:
- Get adequate protein in your diet. The absolute minimum would be 45 mg. per day up to 95mg.
- Get your daily vitamins through a multi-vitamin tablet and eat lots of green leafy vegetables and yellow fruit and carrots for Vitamin A. B vitamins can be found in cereals and whole grains, tomatoes, bananas, wheat germ, liver, yogurt, cauliflower, egg yolks, and brewer’s yeast.
- Iron, trace minerals, iodine, and a proper calcium/magnesium, and zinc/copper ratio are very important. Foods containing these minerals include dried apricots, parsley, eggs, black sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and nuts, especially cashews and almonds, blackstrap molasses. Fish and seaweed contain iodine.
- Grated fresh ginger and honey daily may be helpful. Oral dose should be 1 teaspoon per day.
- Organic Blackstrap Molasses, with brewer’s yeast and wheat germ is an old folk remedy you might try.
- Topically massage gray hair with coconut oil and lemon juice. A questionable remedy, but it is may help.
All-in-all, grey hair is inevitable with age for most of us. Premature greying can occur in the presence of nutrient deficiencies and the absence of optimal nutrition combined with abuse of alcohol, excessive smoking, and caffeine. I hope this helps you to better understand this dilemma.