At some point in life, your beauty resolutions must have included treating your hair with even more care, with the hopes of encouraging it to grow. If you’ve ever spent some time searching for solutions, then you must have come across a handful online. YouTube, for instance, is constantly populated with weird hacks for tackling hair loss and accelerating hair growth.
Most of these online beauty tips involve the use of products that you probably have never heard of. But aren’t we all guilty of pining after anything that promises fast results—or something close to it? Fortunately, there are a handful of habits, like drinking water and using supplements, which can make your hair grow over time.
So, where does a supplement like biotin fit in?
Let’s begin by stating that biotin isn’t a miracle cure for hair loss — there isn’t really one. Though it may not offer immediate results, using biotin could help in mitigating hair loss and encouraging hair growth.
What is Biotin?
Biotin is a B vitamin, which is also known as Vitamin H or coenzyme R. Biotin is water-soluble and supports the body’s metabolism process by converting carbohydrates into energy for the body’s use. It also helps in breaking down proteins and fats.
Many are not aware that biotin is created naturally by bacteria in our intestines, but the body does not absorb excess amounts of the vitamin. However, biotin can be gotten through many food sources.
Biotin Food Sources
As stated above, biotin comes from the natural work of intestinal bacteria or through the food we eat. These food sources include the following: liver, avocado, bananas, yeast, pecans, salmon, pork, whole grains, egg yolks, cauliflower, raspberries, and carrots. However, it important to note that cooking reduces biotin concentration.
Of course, everybody needs biotin, but a deficiency is rare. In fact, biotin has no recommended daily dosage set for it. However, according to Mayo Clinic, adults should get between 30 to 100 micrograms of biotin daily.
There are three situations that can lead to biotin deficiency and the need for supplementation: prolonged consumption of raw egg whites, feeding through an IV without biotin, and children food formula that doesn’t contain biotin.
Again, remember that you’re unlikely to be biotin-deficient. But if you really are, you’d experience the following symptoms: loss of appetite; insomnia; depression; a dry rash around the eyes, mouth, nose or genitals; pain and inflammation of the tongue; and of course, hair loss.
Biotin Supplements and Your Hair
The protein that makes up your hair is called keratin, and as a matter of fact, biotin has a role in the production of keratin. It helps to induce new hair growth and improve hair healthier texture by protecting the hair against breakage, dryness, and flaky scalp. At the risk of sounding discouraging, applying biotin to the hair or scalp may likely do little to nothing to remedy your hair loss. There is no evidence that your hair or scalp can even absorb biotin. Notwithstanding, there is no shortage of biotin hair care products in the market. From shampoos, serums, oils, to conditioners—they all promise to provide some components that can be helpful for hair growth.
It is essential to be aware that biotin supplements alone will not help promote hair growth. Of course, it will improve the keratin structure of your hair and give it some texture, you most likely also need to use topical treatments, have a healthy diet, and get enough of all other hair growth nutrients. The following home remedies, when used with biotin can help boost hair growth.
- Biotin and castor oil
- Biotin and vitamin E
- Biotin and fish oil
- Biotin and saw palmetto
- Biotin and folic acid
- Biotin and zinc
Though, it isn’t very clear how it does this, but unlike many supplements for hair loss, there is some evidence that biotin supplements also work.
Actually, there is not much risk associated with consuming a biotin supplement. According to Mayo Clinic, supplementing with up to 10 milligrams daily has no side effects. The Linus Pauling Institute also reports that even for people with certain medical conditions like multiple sclerosis or some genetic disorders, higher doses of biotin supplements were well-tolerated.
However, a few side effects may occur.
- Allergic Reactions
People who are allergic to cobalt or cobalamin are advised not to take any B vitamin, including biotin. This is because they could suffer serious reactions such as tightness in the chest and throat, which could lead to anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis, in turn, can result in chronic respiratory issues.
- Eosinophilic Pleuropericardial Effusion
This is extremely rare, but this condition has been linked with taking too much biotin. Particularly, if high doses of biotin are consumed with vitamin B5, it could result in this severe reaction. Note that this was reported in only one known case; thus, the probability of such a reaction is pretty low.
- Blood Glucose Effects
According to MayoClinic.com, high doses of biotin could affect blood sugar levels, especially as it is vital to the formation of glucose and fatty acids. Thus, people who are diabetic should consult their doctor about biotin supplementation beforehand.
Now, if you’re taking biotin with other supplements, it is important to note that both vitamin B5 and alpha-lipoic acid can negatively affect the absorption of biotin. In the same vein, biotin can block the absorption of these supplements too.
The Bottom Line
Whether it’s a life-long challenge to see just how long your hair can get, or to tackle a gradual but persistent hair loss, most of us have wanted our hair to grow faster at one point or another. You may have even tried vitamins, diets or shampoos that didn’t exactly work.
It’s not likely that your hair loss is caused by a biotin deficiency. So don’t be too hard on yourself. Apparently, hair loss is just one of several signs that you could be lacking in a vitamin. If you suspect biotin deficiency, look for other obvious signs too like scaly patches of skin, swollen tongue, and fat deposits on the face. If you notice these symptoms, kindly seek medical advice.
Remember that you can also improve your biotin levels through foods rich in the vitamin and with supplementation. Remember, however, biotin is water soluble. This means high doses everyday are just an effort in futility. You are going to be passing them out as urine, anyway.
One important thing to keep in mind: We know most beauty supplements and vitamins on the market are relatively harmless, it’s smart to talk with a qualified doctor or nutritionist before deciding on any kind of supplementation. This is especially because some of these supplements contain additives that may interact with other medications negatively.
Now, several people claim biotin really works, while others are not so sure. But we guess you’ll have to see for yourself! Are you game enough to try this vitamin? We’d like to know how it went in the comments section below.
This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.