Scientists have identified a chain reaction that causes hair to turn gray as people age, according to the The National Business Review. Citing a Federation of American Society for Experimental Biology Journal report, the National Business Review said that the body’s production of an enzyme known as catalase decreases with age, leaving hair follicles unable to produce sufficient melanin to overcome the natural hydrogen peroxide in the body whose bleaching effects then take over. The reduction of catalase also interferes with the body’s ability to breakdown hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen, nature’s means of preventing hair from turning gray.
Catalase enzymes when the body is in its prime are known for their efficiency. Before age interferes with catalase production, catalase enzymes can break down millions of hydrogen peroxide molecules per second.
Excess hydrogen peroxide levels in the body do not only lead to graying hair. Hydrogen peroxide can also cause cell damage.
Home Experiment: See How Catalase Decomposes Hydrogen Peroxide
If you are looking for a simple home experiment to see for yourself how catalase decomposes hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water, try this one recommended by the American Chemical Society. All you will need is a potato and some hydrogen peroxide solution placed in a glass. Potatoes contain catalase, so when you place a potato slice into the hydrogen peroxide solution, you will see bubbles form on the surface of the potato. This is the oxygen gas being released as the catalase breaks down the hydrogen peroxide solution.
Possible to Ward Off Graying Hair by Using Catalase Supplements?
One of the first questions that comes to mind when reading about catalase reduction is whether supplementation is possible. Can people avoid their hair turning gray and suffering cell damage by taking catalase supplements?
Research is not clear on whether supplementation is effective. Catalase is one of 4 naturally produced free-radical fighters that protect against cell damage. Catalase, along with the other 3 – superoxide dimutase, methionine reductase, and glutothione peroxidase- are all available in supplement form. The catch is, these oral catalase and other free-radical fighting supplements may be digested rather than absorbed into the cells to do their work. Vitaminstuff recommends that it may be more effective to supplement the minerals that the body uses to create catalase and its compatriots – zinc, manganese, copper and selenium- rather than to rely on catalase, superoxide dimutase, methionine reductase or glutothione peroxidase supplementation.
Sources: http://www.emaxhealth.com/1020/115/29550/catalase-culprit-gray-hair.html; http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/grey-hair-resolved-our-hair-progressively-bleaches-itself-with-age-62105; http://www.rcsb.org/pdb/static.do?p=education_discussion/molecule_of_the_month/pdb57_1.html; http://www.accessexcellence.org/AE/ATG/data/released/0074-GenNelson/index.php; http://jchemed.chem.wisc.edu/JCEsoft/CCA/CCA5/MAIN/2BIOCHEM/BIOCHEM2/SPUDBUBL/THUMBS.HTM; http://www.jbc.org/cgi/content/abstract/279/15/14587; http://www.vitaminstuff.com/catalase.html.