- What is Biotin?
- Research on Biotin and Hair Growth
- The Causes and Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency
- The Foods High in Biotin for Healthy Hair
- Biotin Supplements for Hair Growth
- 7 Other Health Benefits of Biotin
- The Recommended Dosage of Biotin
- Is Biotin Guaranteed to Solve Hair Fall Problems?
- The Side Effects of Biotin Supplements
- Some Hair Care Tips
- Frequently Asked Questions
- The Final Note
Does your hair feel dry and damaged? Is excessive hair fall making you worry? The hair cycle differs for every person, and factors like genetics, hormone, stress, and hair care hygiene contribute to the health of your hair.
If you are searching for hair loss solutions, you must have come across many biotin supplements. We can not say biotin is a miracle solution, but with some backed up research, we can tell biotin consumption can improve your hair growth. There are some proven benefits of biotin on your hair as well as health.
What is Biotin?
Biotin or vitamin B7 is a water-soluble vitamin, sometimes also called vitamin H or coenzyme R. It helps your body to convert food into energy. It supports the health of your skin, eyes, hair, liver, and nails. Biotin is essential during pregnancy as it helps in embryonic growth (3), (4).
Biotin is produced naturally by your gut bacteria, but it is unknown how much is absorbed and used (5). Even if it is not enough, your body gets enough biotin from a healthy diet. It is also believed that consuming more biotin can help to regulate blood sugar, promote healthy skin, hair, and nails. Many people try to consume more biotin for these additional benefits.
In this article, we will discuss, according to research studies, how biotin helps in hair growth, dietary sources, and nutritional recommendations of biotin and also if there are any adverse effects associated with biotin.
Research on Biotin and Hair Growth
Biotin is also known as vitamin H. The H stands for Haar und Haut, in German, which is called hair and skin. It is believed that when taken as oral supplements, biotin gives healthy and shiny looking hair.
Keratin is the best source for growth and glow in your hair, and biotin improves the infrastructure of keratin. Many women go to the salon to get keratin hair treatment because it is believed that keratin brings healthy growth of hair. Although there is no evidence that supports the topical application of biotin supplements will work.
A three-month-long randomized study evaluated the effect of biotin on the thinning of women’s hair (8). During this study, some women were given protein marine supplements (MPS), and some were given a placebo for 90 days. Women’s shed hair was counted, and it was found that women who took biotin containing supplements experienced significant hair growth. The hair fall was also reduced in that group.
A study conducted in 2012 revealed that biotin nutritional supplements increase hair growth after 90 to 180 days (9). Another study conducted in 2008 indicates that hair loss is one of the symptoms of biotin deficiency (10).
Another study published in 2016 in the International Journal of Trichology revealed that 38% of women complaining of hair loss were suffering from biotin deficiency (11).
However, the study concluded that biotin supplements should be used only during biotin deficiency. In another study biotin supplements were found to reverse hair loss. In this, the hair loss was caused by valproic acid, a seizure medication that leads to biotin deficiency (12).
Summary: Biotin helps in the keratin formation, which improves your hair growth. Biotin supplements can effectively reduce your hair fall.
The Causes and Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency
Biotin deficiency is not a common condition and can occur due to malnutrition. There are three major possibilities that may lead to biotin deficiency and need supplements. These conditions include if someone is on prolonged IV feed or consuming raw egg whites for long or infants feeding on the formula that does not contain biotin.
Some other conditions that can cause biotin deficiency are certain medications that impair biotin absorption, such as drugs used to treat seizures. Excessive alcohol consumption inhibits the absorption of biotin from your body (13). Smoking and severe malnutrition due to anorexia can result in biotin deficiency.
Rare autosomal recessive disorder in which your body may lack biotinidase, an enzyme that is necessary for obtaining biotin from its sources. This also leads to biotin deficiency. If not treated, it results in neurological and cutaneous symptoms.
Though it is unlikely to be biotin deficient, if you are, there are sure signs which may help you to understand. Symptoms of biotin deficiency are hair loss, brittle nails, skin rashes, confusion, depression, fatigue, and cramping. Sometimes biotin deficiency is seen in pregnant women. Though biotin-rich food is enough to meet your daily needs, during deficiency, you can consider taking biotin supplements.
Summary: Biotin deficiency is seen rarely causing symptoms like hair loss, brittle nails, skin rashes, and depression. Biotin supplements are recommended to overcome these symptoms.
The Foods High in Biotin for Healthy Hair
The best way to get enough biotin for your body is through natural food sources. Biotin-rich food can be a cure for thinning hair as it stimulates hair growth.
You can get your daily dose of biotin by eating a varied diet. Some of the biotin-rich foods that you can include in your diet include nuts like almond and peanuts, sweet potatoes, broccoli, bananas, cauliflower, whole grains, and meat.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are better sources of biotin than cooked or processed food. Most of the time, you get enough biotin from your diet, and biotin deficiency is seen rarely.
Summary: Fresh fruits and vegetables contain a significant amount of biotin to meet your daily needs. Eating them raw is the best way to get biotin through diet.
Biotin Supplements for Hair Growth
Considering biotin supplements is a good idea when it comes to maintaining healthy hair. Biotin supplements are available in the form of capsules or tablets. Check the label carefully for any added chemicals before purchasing a biotin supplement.
Biotin supplements for hair can give some additional nourishment to your hair. Biotin supplements interact with cell enzymes and play a major part in producing amino acids that are the building blocks of protein. Your hair consists of keratin, which is a form of protein. Therefore, eating biotin-rich food or taking biotin supplements can contribute to hair growth.
Though biotin does not cause any side effects, you may experience nausea, cramping, or diarrhea. To avoid these side effects, it is advised to take a biotin supplement with food. Also, discuss with your doctor the proper dosage required for you.
Summary: Biotin supplements help to maintain healthy hair. There are no major side effects to these supplements.
7 Other Health Benefits of Biotin
The health benefits of biotin go beyond healthy hair. Biotin plays a role in the normal functioning of your body, energy production, and metabolism.
Biotin Boosts Energy Production
Biotin helps to break down the body nutrients to form a usable form of energy for your body. Biotin functions as a coenzyme Carboxylase and aids in synthesizing fatty acids and amino acids. Without biotin, your body can not use energy.
Biotin acts as a coenzyme for carboxylase and helps in the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates resulting in energy production (14). Biotin is essential for maintaining normal body functions, for physical activities, and its deficiency can lead to fatigue (15).
Summary: Biotin assists carboxylase in metabolizing carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for energy production.
Biotin Enhances Cognitive Functions
Biotin contributes to the proper functioning of the brain. Biotinidase is an enzyme that helps to recycle biotin in your body.
A study conducted in 2008 has revealed that deficiency of biotinidase enzyme leads to a lack of biotin, which in turn delays the myelin sheath formation (16). This can result in neurological symptoms such as seizures, delayed learning, lack of neuro muscle coordination, depression, and fatigue.
Another study revealed that high doses of biotin supplements carry neuroprotective potential (17). With better nerve signaling and neurotransmission, biotin prevents age-related cognitive impairment.
Biotin protects you against neurodegenerative disorder, prevents dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and also enhances your concentration and mood. Biotin also plays a role in mood regulation hormones that helps to keep a positive outlook and boosts energy.
Summary: With neuroprotective property, biotin helps in the proper functioning of the brain.
Biotin Improves Immune Response
Biotin is required for lymphocyte production, and its deficiency can impair your immunity (18).
A study revealed that biotin deficiency is associated with a defect in T-cell and B-cell production and reduced immunity (19). Biotin modulates the gene expression to improve immune response.
Summary: Biotin supports immunity by affecting gene expression in human immune cells.
Biotin Improves Blood Sugar Balance
According to a survey, biotin administration results in improved glycemic management and decreases plasma lipid concentration in poorly controlled type 1 diabetes (20). Also, biotin effectively manages blood glucose regulation in type 2 diabetes (21).
A scientific study revealed that biotin deficiency is associated with impaired glucose tolerance and reduced uptake of glucose (22). Biotin helps in improving the activity of insulin, which brings blood sugar balance. With a better insulin response, it reduces the risk of complications of diabetes.
Summary: Biotin can effectively manage hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia; hence can help to treat diabetes.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Generally, Biotin supplements are recommended for pregnant women. During pregnancy and lactation, women need more biotin to meet the needs of the reproductive stage (23). A study revealed that biotin breakdown increases in pregnancy, which can cause slight biotin deficiency (24).
Studies conducted on animals have revealed that biotin deficiency in pregnancy can result in birth defects (25). More research is needed to evaluate the association between congenital defects and biotin deficiency.
Summary: Biotin is essential during pregnancy and lactation to avoid birth defects and other complications.
Biotin Lowers Cholesterol
High cholesterol can lead to heart disease or stroke. If you are struggling to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, then biotin may help you (26). By triglyceride-lowering effect, biotin helps to keep the cholesterol level within range.
By lowering LDL and increasing HDL or good cholesterol levels, biotin reduces the risk of heart diseases, especially effective in people with diabetes.
Summary: Biotin helps to maintain your cholesterol levels by reducing LDL levels.
Biotin Helps Rebuild Damaged Tissue
Biotin with other B vitamins helps to repair and rebuild damaged tissue. It helps in the regeneration of muscle and skin tissues.
According to a study published in 2018, biotin helps to reduce inflammation (27). Biotin secretes anti-inflammatory cytokines, which help to suppress the inflammation. By minimizing inflammation, it allows the healing and repair of tissues.
Summary: Biotin has anti-inflammatory properties which help in better healing and rebuilding of tissues.
The Recommended Dosage of Biotin
Biotin deficiency is a rare condition, and there is no definite recommended dietary allowance for biotin. Depending on your age, sex, and health condition needed daily dose of biotin may vary.
According to experts, a person who is ten years or older should get 25 to 100 mcg per day. On average, kids below three years need 8 to 10 mcg and four to ten-year-olds need 12 to 20 mcg biotin per day.
Biotin is considered safe and there are no associated side effects when consumed in excess. It is a water-soluble vitamin and extra biotin gets excreted through urine.
A pilot study evaluated the effect of high doses of biotin given to multiple sclerosis (28). Even mega doses of biotin did not cause any side effects.
Summary: Biotin is a safe supplement, even at high doses. Excess biotin gets eliminated from your body through urine.
Is Biotin Guaranteed to Solve Hair Fall Problems?
Biotin supplementation may not bring the results if you have other nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin D or calcium. Here, your poorly balanced diet is the reason for your hair loss.
Sometimes in women, underlying medical conditions or hormonal imbalance can be the cause for hair loss. Getting treated for your underlying medical condition can only solve your hair loss problems.
Stress is another reason that causes hair loss. Excessive stress can damage your hair. Various relaxation techniques or meditation can help you regain your natural healthy hair. Lack of hair care and using wrong hair products also leads to thinning of hair. Taking biotin with other nutrients for hair care can promote healthier looking hair with faster growth.
Summary: Other nutritional deficiencies, stress, or underlying medical conditions can also cause hair loss. During such circumstances, biotin supplements, along with treating the underlying cause, can be helpful.
The Side Effects of Biotin Supplements
Generally, biotin is considered safe, but it is advised to consult your doctor before starting any new supplement. Also, it is better to take a personal consultation regarding dosage and potential side effects. No toxicity was reported even with mega doses of 300 mg per day, which was used to treat multiple sclerosis (29).
Being a water dissolvable vitamin, excess biotin gets flushed out of your body through urine. Hence your body can not accumulate any biotin to reach toxic levels. If you experience skin rashes or any other symptoms after taking a biotin supplement, see your doctor.
However, a biotin supplement may interfere with your thyroid tests and other blood tests (30). Avoid taking biotin supplements if you are taking thyroid medications or undergoing any blood evaluations.
Summary: Biotin is a safe supplement, and there are no side effects even in high doses. Consult your doctor before starting with biotin supplements to avoid minor side effects.
Some Hair Care Tips
Healthy hair starts with the right nutrition.
- Eating a varied diet that includes fresh veggies and fruits and drinking enough water will give the hair follicles the needed nutrition.
- Too much heat can damage your hair, be careful about the tools you use for styling your hair.
- Healthy hair needs a healthy environment; proper cleansing of your hair regularly is essential. After washing your hair, use a good conditioner to moisturize your hair.
- Regular trimming of your hair helps you to get rid of broken and damaged hair.
- Soothing scalp massage helps to stimulate your hair follicles and improve blood circulation, which encourages the growth of healthy hair.
- There are many factors that can be contributing to your hair loss. As mentioned earlier, stress can be one of the reasons for hair fall. Reduce stress in your life and learn relaxation techniques.
- Certain medical conditions like endocrine disorders, pituitary or thyroid issues, and hormonal imbalance can cause hair fall (31), (32). Any health issue that disrupts your GI tract may affect your hair growth.
- But, above all these, the primary cause of hair fall is a nutritional deficiency (33). Basic tests for thyroid, hormones, and vitamin levels and complete blood count can help you to find the underlying cause.
With the right nutrition and simple hair care methods, you can have well-nourished, shiny, and healthy hair.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Will Biotin Supplements Take to Work?
It takes several months to see noticeable benefits. Consistency is the key to experiencing the best results of biotin on your hair growth.
If you are taking biotin supplements, continue for a few months to see the results. If you are eating a biotin-rich diet, consume enough biotin every day to make a difference.
A study conducted in 2015 suggests that the effect of biotin on hair can be seen within 90 days (34). It also says that consuming biotin for a longer time can give better results.
How Will I Know If I Have A Biotin Deficiency?
Biotin deficiency is rarely seen. Hair fall, skin rashes, and brittle nails are common symptoms and if you are experiencing hair fall nothing wrong in trying biotin supplements.
Excessive alcohol consumption may hamper your body’s ability to utilize biotin. If you are experiencing symptoms associated with biotin deficiency then visit your doctor and get tested.
Is It Safe To Take Biotin Supplements?
Generally, biotin supplements contain more biotin than your per day requirement. Consuming excess biotin will not cause any harmful effects and there is no evidence of biotin toxicity.
The only concern about taking biotin supplements is it may interfere with your lab tests. If you are undergoing any blood tests these biotin supplements may give wrong results.
If you are scheduled for a blood test, tell your doctor about your biotin supplements. Biotin may also interact with other medications. If you are taking medications for any illness consult your doctor before starting with biotin supplements.
Can Biotin Help Me Treat Brittle Nails?
There is not much evidence available to prove that biotin can be beneficial for nails. Biotin may increase the thickness of your finger and toenails if you are suffering from biotin deficiency (35).
Can I Take Biotin Supplements During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding?
Consuming biotin-rich food is safe even during pregnancy and breastfeeding. If you are considering taking biotin supplements then it is better to consult your doctor.
The Final Note
Biotin deficiency can be one of the reasons for your hair loss. It is essential to note that biotin is not a hair growing nutrient, but it is a supplement that supports the growth of healthy hair.
Hair loss is one of the signs that you are lacking some essential nutrients. If you think you have a biotin deficiency, look for the symptoms such as rashes or patches on your skin, brittle nails, confusion, and depression. If you notice these symptoms, consult your doctor.
If you have normal biotin levels, you can still increase your biotin intake through biotin rich food. Excess biotin through diet will not cause any harm; instead, it may enhance the health of your hair.
Biotin supplements are not associated with any significant side effects. Instead of trying other harmful hair loss solutions, biotin can be a better option for healthy growing hair.