What Causes Grey Hair: The Vitamin Deficiency Theory Of Greying (B12 and Folic Acid)


B12 and Folic Acid deficiency can lead to melanin deficiency (the pigment that gives hair color), causing grey hair even at an early age. Many adults over 50yrs are B12 deficient.


Yes Dorothy, Vitamins Prevent Grey Hair

For centuries, health experts have espoused the idea that once we start getting grey hair, there’s no way to turn back the clock on Mother Nature.

However, recent studies have shown promising advances in the field of grey hair research. There are many optimistic scientists who believe that one day we will unlock the secret of greying and reverse the process permanently.

Researchers know that there are many contributing factors that causes greying. Examples includes oxidative stress and genetics. As the scientific knowledge deepens, we continue to discover more about the role of melanin and the triggering factors for grey hair. Scientist may one day at will, manipulate Melanin – the pigment that colors our hair and skin – to reduce and even eliminate grey hair.

To recap, melanin is a form of an amino acid known as tyrosine, which helps support healthy brain function. As a derivative of tyrosine, melanin is responsible for the pigmentation – essentially the color of our hair and skin. In addition to providing us with our unique skin and hair colors, melanin’s primary function is to absorb harmful UVA rays and transform them into energy, thus reducing our chance of developing deadly skin diseases and cancers. Melanin deficiency can result in a range of diseases, including albinism an even Parkinson’s Diseases – and of course, this deficiency also directly contributes to grey hair.

Studies have shown that hair with large amounts of melanin are more saturated in color than their deficient counterparts; therefore, when melanin death occurs (which can arise due to the natural aging process, stress and genetics), the hair follicles become less saturated with color and are effectively bleached into grey hair. So it stands to reason that if a decrease in melanin production contributes to greying, then an increase in melanin production can re-saturate the hair with pigmentation, thereby effectively reversing the process.

And that’s exactly what scientists set out to test.

In a two-year study conducted by the Department of Dermatology at University Hospital in Uppsala, Sweden, researchers discovered that folic acid, vitamin B12 (also called cobalamin) and sun exposure could help encourage re-pigmentation of the skin and hair. One hundred patients with vitiligo – a condition where the skin loses its pigmentation – were treated with folic acid and B12, and told to increase their exposure to the sun. After three to six months, researchers noted that re-pigmentation was evident in 64% of patients, with six patients experiencing total re-pigmentation.

These findings were further supported by a study conducted by researchers at the Department of Dermatology at the University of Alabama, where scientists discovered that patients who suffered from vitiligo often displayed diminished blood levels of folic acid. By increasing folic acid consumption through oral administration, researchers noted that patients experienced re-pigmentation without side effects.

One small note for those thinking of going on a vitamin B12 regimen. There are several version of B12 available and the cheapest and most often found in dietary supplements is the cyanocobalamin version, while higher-end supplements uses Methylcobalamin. Methylcobalamin is the version found in the blood, though the body is able to convert any of the others such as hydroxocobalamin into this form. Research published in the journal “BLOOD”, found that cyanocobalamin may lead to further deficiency in B12 and can be cytotoxic. In addition, smokers cannot utilize the B12 molecule in cyanocobalamin because of increased cyanide levels in their blood – due to smoking – reinforcing the cyanide-cobalamin bond, preventing the body from breaking down cyanocobalamin and making use of the cobalamin molecule.

As these studies have shown, re-pigmentation of the hair and skin is possible, provided that the individual increases their intake of certain vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamin B12 and folic acid. Greying doesn’t have to be a “fact of life”; rather, it is possible to revive and increase melanin production within the hair follicles, thus restoring the hair to its natural color and luster. If you believe that part of the reason you are greying is due to a deficiency in Vitamin B12 or Folic Acid then we can help, we invite you to learn how.


  1. Juhlin, L and MJ Olson. “Improvement of vitiligo after oral treatment with vitamin B12 and folic acid and the importance of sun exposure”, Department of Dermatology, University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden.
  2. Montes LF, Diaz ML, Lajous J, Garcia NJ., “Folic acid and vitamin B12 in vitiligo: a nutritional approach”, Department of Dermatology, University of Alabama, Birmingham Medical Center.
  3. Cyanocobalamin [c-lactam] inhibits vitamin B12 and causes cytotoxicity in HL60 cells: methionine protects cells completely. Matthews JH.Department of Medicine, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

IMPORTANT: There are millions of folks just like you suffering with premature greying who are looking for information to assist them to figure it all out. You were fortunate enough to find our website and our information. If this information was useful to you, please help others to find it also by sharing this page. You can do so simply by clicking on one of the social share buttons at the end of this post thereby liking or +1 this page.


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About Frederica Hegney

Frederica Hegney is Editor of the Grey Defence blog. Where she focuses on topic around greying and its causes.
This entry was posted in Research Inspired Articles and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to What Causes Grey Hair: The Vitamin Deficiency Theory Of Greying (B12 and Folic Acid)

  1. Frederica Hegney says:

    Hi Vesna, you should read the footnoted articles, especially >>>Montes LF, Diaz ML, Lajous J, Garcia NJ., “Folic acid and vitamin B12 in vitiligo: a nutritional approach”, Department of Dermatology, University of Alabama, Birmingham Medical Center.<<< They have really good information on how the research was conducted. Maybe you can see what your dermatologist thinks about that research and whether they can supervisor a dietary plan with adequate amounts of B12 and Folic Acid. FH

  2. Vesna Rankin says:

    Hi My Name is Vesna, and I have had Vitiligo since the age of 18 yrs ( now in my 40th year). I have read many many articles & researches over the years, but agian no solid evidence of cure.

    I recently was sunburt quite badly for somebody with Vitiligo (not intentionally) but since this my skin has repigmented in areas I have not seen before, I know that as fast as it appears it can also disapear ( such joy !!) along with this I have been taking vitamis on a regular basis, and feel this may have somewhat contributed to the repimentation. Within my white patches my hair folicles remain dark which I am questioning as I dont believe that the melanine has totally gone??

    I have read in this article about the link to Parkinson’s disease, my grandfather (on my mothers side) had parkinson’s but no apparent skin conditions. Could this be a genetic link??

    Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated as every year goes by my options seem to fade.

    Kind Regards

    Vesna Rankin


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