As a nursery school student, I can remember this classmate of mine who had grey hair, a lot of them, and every now and then we pull out a couple of them, only for hundreds more to appear a few days later.

I’m sure this experience is not peculiar to me; there are a host of people out there who have come across grey hair on the most unexpected heads and wondered what could be the cause.

Grey hair is a phenomenon associated with old age. When it is seen on young people it becomes perplexing. It was for me, for a very long time; but respite came when I saw Brad Pitt’s movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, or so I thought.

A couple of young people I’ve come across who have grey hair are usually concerned and often visit barbing salons to have it shaven while some are simply indifferent claiming it is an act of God.

In order to clear the air – for myself maybe – as to why grey hair appears on young people and how to stop it, I went in search of related facts and here are the facts I gathered.

First, let’s be clear on what HAIR actually is; its composition. The hair is rich in a protein called keratin. Hair grows in follicles in the dermis layer of the skin and these follicles determine the colour of the hair through the presence of melanin.

According to, melanin is of two types, the Eumelanin and Pheomelanin. So, the more melanin you have, the darker your hair colour.

The average age for greying in people is usually around 40, but when it occurs in younger people, it means there is a dilution of eumelanin and pheomelanin which invariably decreases the amount of melanin present.

Below are documented reasons for greying:

Genetic factors

Genetics may sometimes have a role to play in premature greying. Some young people who have grey hair confirm that it runs in the family.

Emotional stress

Research studies have shown that the release of adrenaline for sustained periods of time have a damaging effect on the DNA, causing it to develop abnormalities. This is also believed to play a major role in greying of hair.


People with the condition of vitiligo, where irregular white patches form on the skin have been known to develop early grey hair.

Improper Diet

An improper diet can also be attributed to premature greying of the hair. The lack of Vitamin B12, iron, and iodine is considered to be the causes for early greying of the hair. Lack of healthy protein intake is also attributed to early greying of the hair.

Hair Dyes and Hot Water

Use of chemical hair dyes and extremely hot water for hair are also considered to cause early greying of hair.

Now to Remedies

There are simple things one can do to avert greying at a young age, these include:

Protein intake: As hair is made up of protein called keratin, a protein-rich diet will help increase its production and will improve hair growth.

Vitamin and Mineral Intake: Vitamin A, B12, iron, copper and zinc are important nutrients. Lack of these nutrients may also help in greying of the hair. Food such as meat, poultry, fish (including shell fish), nuts, legumes and prunes are good sources of these vitamins and minerals.

Iodine: In order to stop greying, iodine is a must. Iodine is the element that influences the thyroid gland. Any diseases of the thyroid gland such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism can result in greying of the hair. Iodine is not only found in salt, but also in foods like bananas, carrots and fish.

Coconut oil:  Studies have shown that the regular application of oils such as coconut oil help in hair damage and slow down greying of the hair.

Avoid Stress: Stress is also responsible for greying of hair. Avoiding or overcoming stress is very important in slowing down the process of greying. Regular exercise and spending quality time with family and friends can also help.

Trust me, that the little boy on your street with grey hair is not Benjamin Button, he’s very normal.


Author: Dotun Obatuyi

My name is Dotun Obatuyi (Dotunoba), I hail from Osun state, a public health scientist (monitoring and evaluation specialist), my keen interests are researching, critiquing and writing feature articles on health, science and technology as well as issues around the globe.