Serum iron, zinc, and copper concentration in premature graying of hair

Biol Trace Elem Res. 2012 Apr;146(1):30-4. doi: 10.1007/s12011-011-9223-6. Epub 2011 Oct 7.


Premature graying of hair with unclear etiology, which is known as premature canities, is a common cause of referrals to the dermatologists. We assessed the relationship between serum iron, copper, and zinc concentrations with premature canities. This study was conducted on patients under 20 years old suffering from premature canities, having a minimum of ten gray hair fibers, and referring to university hospitals of Isfahan (Iran). The results were compared with age-sex-matched controls. Demographic data and disease characteristics were recorded for two groups. We studied serum iron, copper, and zinc concentrations of 66 patients and 66 controls using atomic absorption and Ferrozine methods. The mean age of studied cases was 17.8 ± 2.0 years, and the mean age of the onset of canities was 15.5 ± 3.2 years with no significant difference between males and females (P > 0.05). Serum copper concentration was significantly lower in patients compared with controls (90.7 ± 37.4 vs. 105.3 ± 50.2 μg/dL, P = 0.048), but serum iron concentration was significantly lower in controls compared to patients (88.8 ± 39.5 vs. 108.3 ± 48.4 μg/dL, P = 0.008). Also, there was no significant difference between patients and controls in serum zinc concentration (114.8 ± 67.8 vs. 108.2 ± 49.9 μg/dL, P = 0.285). According to these results, among copper, zinc, and iron, a low serum copper concentration may play a role in premature graying of hairs in our society. Further studies are needed to find the underlying mechanism of this relationship.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Copper / blood*
  • Female
  • Hair Diseases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Iron / blood*
  • Male
  • Young Adult
  • Zinc / blood*


  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Zinc