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Vitamin B-12 deficiency is one of the most common causes of prematurely greying hair. The vitamin is essential for keeping your body’s blood and nerve cells healthy, and could protect your hair against going grey.
Although prematurely greying is a common condition, it remains largely unexplored, and can make some people feel self-conscious.
Some recent studies have shown that a nutrient deficiency can have a great impact on your hair, and recommend that people make sure they are consuming enough Vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 is involved in helping the body make red blood cells and keeping the nervous system healthy.
It is also used by the body to release energy from food.
Micronutrients, especially Vitamin B12, could be influenced by dietary habits.
If you eat meat, fish or dairy foods, you should be able to get enough vitamin B12 from your diet, advises the NHS.
Vitamin B12 is not found naturally in foods such as fruit, vegetables and grains, so vegans may be more likely to develop a deficiency.
Good sources of the vitamin include meat, fish, cheese, eggs and some fortified breakfast cereals.
A lack of vitamin B12 could lead to vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia. This occurs when a lack of vitamin B12 or folate causes the body to produce abnormally large red blood cells that cannot function properly.
Adults, aged 19 to 64, are known to need about 1.5 micrograms a day of vitamin B12.
If you take vitamin B12 supplements, do not take too much as this could be harmful.
Taking two micrograms or less a day of vitamin B12 in supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.
It takes a while for a vitamin B12 deficiency to come to light, as the body can store the nutrient for several years.
Nonetheless, aside from prematurely greying, there are several other symptoms to look out for to establish a vitamin B12 deficiency.
As a vitamin B12 deficiency can affect the nerve tissues, you may be more prone to paraesthesia – pins and needles.
In addition, a lack of vitamin B12 can lead to irritability, depressions and a decline in mental abilities, such as memory and judgement.
As part of the normal ageing process, your body’s production of the pigment that colours your hair can slow down.
This means that overtime you are more likely to start seeing grey hairs.
Yet alongside a vitamin deficiency, other factors could contribute to this happening prematurely. Some research suggests that you may notice some extra grey hairs if you have a thyroid disorder.
Similarly, certain skin and hair autoimmune disorders can also cause premature grey hairs, as your body may not be able to produce enough of this pigment.
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