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Health notes: Can a supplement reverse graying hair?

Mature woman with grey hair, rear view, head and shoulders

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Can a supplement
reverse graying hair?

During her post-divorce reinvention, Judy Allor decided to do something about the gray hair that had been coming in at her temples and around her ears since her early 50s. Highlights didn’t seem to take. So she ordered a supplement.

Within three months of taking two pills a day, Allor said she started noticing her natural light blond color replacing the gray spots.

“I call it vitamins for my hair,” said Allor, a retiree who splits her time between Florida and California.

Go Away Gray, a nutraceutical without FDA approval or any clinical trials supporting its effectiveness, is among several products being marketed to prevent gray hair.

But Dr. Gerard Mullin, associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, cautions people to save their money.

The product is based on the discovery that reduced production of the enzyme catalase, which breaks down hydrogen peroxide, may contribute to graying hair. Hair cells naturally produce small amounts of hydrogen peroxide, but without catalase it builds up over time and blocks the normal synthesis of melanin that gives hair its color, according to a study in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology journal.

Mullin said the ingredients at the doses recommended are harmless. But “there is no proof whatsoever” that catalase ingested orally can survive the gastrointestinal process and affect the hair follicle. For those wishing to give it a shot, it would be cheaper to eat a bowl of catalase-rich blueberries, blackberries or radishes, he added.


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