Can supplements reverse hair greying? Experts weigh in on the science-backed solutions to 'prevent' whitening

grey hair and supplements in hand

Supplements may prevent premature greying

Solen Le Net

By Solen Le Net

Published: 30/03/2024

- 08:00

Updated: 30/03/2024

- 08:16

White and grey strands can emerge at any age, but a copper deficiency may drive the process earlier than expected

Greying marks an inevitable phase of life when the hair follicles fail to produce colour. But as women enter their golden years, there may be ways to slow down the process.

Why certain people turn grey sooner than others continues to baffle scientists, however, researchers have uncovered several causes, and it transpires age is not always responsible.

Although white and grey strands can emerge at any age, a copper deficiency may drive the process earlier than expected.

Greying of hair occurs when the stem cells in hair follicles - known as melanocytes - are unable to work efficiently.

Shiny glass hair

Nutritional deficiencies may correlate with premature greying


Last year, scientists made a breakthrough in their study of grey hair, citing pigment-making cells that lose their ability to mature.

Processes like stress can shut down this biological process prematurely, causing white hair in younger individuals.

Other studies suggest deficiencies in minerals like copper also cause hair to turn white, although supplementation may reverse this.

“Yes, there is some research to suggest that copper supplementations may potentially contribute to preventing the greying of hair, although a direct causal link has not been established and research on the matter is still ongoing,” shared Carolina Goncalves, superintendent pharmacist Pharmica.

She cites an early body of research dating back to 2012 as the most prominent evidence supporting this claim.

It found that “patients who had grey hair had significantly lower levels of copper, iron and zinc in their blood as compared to those who did not have grey hair”, Carolina explained.

A subsequent paper published in 2013 explored the effects of copper and elemental deficiency on hair follicles, suggesting it may contribute to changes in hair pigmentation.

“However, both papers were studying the impact of overall nutritional deficiencies (not just copper) on hair health, so their findings are inconclusive,” explained Carolina.

She continued: “Most recently, researchers have discovered that supplements containing compounds such as alpha-MSH may help reverse hair greying.”

This compound mimics the action of a peptide hormone that regulates skin and hair pigmentation.


Woman getting her grey hair washed

The development of grey hair occurs when follicles fail to produce pigment


Doctor Barbara Kubicka, MD, a professional Aesthetic Artist with more than 15 years of experience in the beauty and wellness industry, told GB News echoed Carolina's observations.

She explained: “Copper gluconate plays a crucial role in regulating melanin production, potentially preventing premature grey hair for individuals with copper deficiency.

“However, it’s essential to note that its effectiveness varies from person to person.

“Before considering supplements, it’s advisable to assess your copper levels, perhaps through methods like an Oligoscan, to determine if you would benefit from copper supplementation.”

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