Biotin is a big name in the hair care industry. Known for its myriad benefits for hair, nail, and skin health; biotin is a key ingredient in the formulation of most naturally-made hair products. Biotin plays a major role in maintaining hair health. It promotes hair growth, helps control hair fall, improves hair volume, shine, and keeps your hair in a healthy condition. Here’s everything you need to know about biotin and its benefits for hair. We also have some tips for you when buying biotin supplements for hair growth. Continue reading!
What is Biotin?
Biotin is the name of Vitamin B7 and it belongs to the 8-member family of water-soluble B vitamins. It acts as an enzyme co-factor, thereby catalyzing the metabolism of carbs, proteins, and fats and providing the body with energy for its functioning. It is also important for healthy growth, development, and functioning of cells.
Thus, Biotin is Essential for:
- Healthy growth of hair and nails
- Skin health
- Blood sugar level (glycemia) regulation
- Strong Immunity
Biotin for Hair Growth: What is the Role of Biotin in Hair Health?
We all know that hair strands (and nails) are primarily made up of a protein called keratin. Biotin stimulates keratin production and helps strengthen hair follicles, which supply nutrients to hair. Thus, biotin not only contributes to hair growth but also assists in maintaining hair health.
Biotin’s effectiveness in treating hair and skin problems is probably the reason why it is also called Vitamin H, wherein H refers to German words ‘haar’ and ‘haut’, meaning hair and skin.
What are the Natural Sources of Biotin?
Biotin is usually found in a variety of food items, including leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, dairy products, organ meat etc.
Here are a few biotin-rich foods:
- Whole grains and cereals
- Nuts - almonds, walnuts, etc.
- Sunflower seeds
- Fatty fish
- Legumes - soybeans, peanuts, etc.
- Sweet potato
- Eggs (Avoid taking raw eggs for better biotin absorption. The protein called avidin present in raw eggs binds biotin, making it difficult for the body to absorb biotin.)
[ Read: 15 Best Foods for Healthy Hair Growth ]
Do We Need Biotin Supplements?
Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin. Human body cannot retain this category of vitamins unlike fat-soluble ones that can be stored in fatty tissues. After absorbing the required amount of biotin from food, the body flushes out excess biotin (if any) as it is incapable of storing this water-soluble vitamin. It means, your body solely relies on the food you take for its daily biotin requirement. And if it doesn’t obtain sufficient amount of biotin through your diet for any reason (either poor nutrition or digestive disorders that inhibit nutrient absorption), you will have to supply your body with its daily dose of biotin from external sources - tablets or supplements. They either contain active biotin or plant-based biotin extracted from biotin-rich plant sources.
Signs and Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency in the Body
Although biotin deficiency is said to be rather rare, it is not uncommon. People with biotin deficiency may report some or all of the following symptoms:
- Hair fall
- Thinning hair
- Brittle nails
- Rashes on different areas of skin, mainly on the face
- Dry skin
- Cracks at corners of the lips
- Poor appetite
So, if you notice any of the above symptoms, then your body may be signalling you to size up biotin intake.
How Much Biotin Should You Take?
In general, biotin dosage recommendation begins at 30 mcg per day. It may also go up to 300 mcg or 2000 mcg or 10,000 mcg or even more than 10,000 mcg depending on individual requirement. Large doses may prove to be more effective for people with deficiency. (Also, a slightly higher mcg of biotin is generally recommended for pregnant and lactating women as their bodies break down biotin relatively faster.)
So, how much biotin can you take? Well, there is no established upper limit and higher doses of biotin are usually harmless. However, there are comparative studies that noticed significant improvement in hair and skin health in people who took high biotin dosage regularly as compared to those who took just 30 mcg of biotin.
Is it Safe to Take Biotin Supplements for Hair Growth?
According to healthcare professionals, biotin supplements are safe and do not have any side effects. Heavier doses (10,000 mcg or more than that) are also fairly safe and there are studies that suggested the effectiveness of a high dosage in fostering hair (and nail) growth without inflicting adverse effects. But in case you notice any side effects such as nausea, diarrhoea, or abdominal discomfort etc., do consult a doctor.
Moreover, biotin may also interfere with certain tests such as thyroid or troponin (for diagnosing heart-related issues) and may skew the results. Hence, if you are appearing for such tests, it is suggested that you let the doctor know about your biotin intake or discontinue using them for some days leading up to the test for proper diagnosis.
How to Choose the Right Biotin Supplements for Your Hair?
When choosing biotin tablets for hair, most people tend to make a hurried choice and end up being disappointed with the results. So, here we are with some tips to spare you such dissatisfaction. Following are the 3 things to keep in mind when choosing biotin supplements for hair growth.
Almost every hair and skincare brand in the market offers biotin supplements. So firstly, narrow down your options to the brands that are known for producing high-quality products. Never compromise on quality for price. Do check what the customers have got to say about the brand and go for a reliable brand that manufactures authentic products. Do not blindly purchase based on celebrity / influencer publicity. Beware of false marketing of 10,000 mcg of plant extract as active biotin. This is discussed further in the below sections.
Choose the formula that works best for your hair. The best results can be observed when biotin supplements for hair growth are enriched with other important vitamins, including zinc, copper, iron, and folic acid among others in proper measures.
According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology in 2012, consumption of oral supplements made of hair-essential vitamins and minerals, including biotin, for 90 days resulted in significant improvement in hair thickness apart from effectively controlling hair thinning.
So, make sure that you thoroughly read the ingredient list and understand their benefits for your hair health. One more detail that most people tend to miss out on is checking whether the biotin supplements for hair growth contain D-biotin or a plant-based extract. D-biotin, the naturally occurring form of biotin, is more bioavailable and hence, it is more effective than biotin obtained from plant sources.
When your body needs 10,000 mcg of biotin, the supplements that provide anything less than that are clearly futile. Ensuring that the products with 10,000 mcg biotin-label provide just as much is not as easy as it looks. There’s something you need to pay attention to here.
Biotin supplements featuring an active form of biotin, say D-biotin, are true to their dosage. For example, Pura Vida’s Biotin tablets provide 10,000 mcg of biotin in each tablet as they are formulated with D-biotin as the main ingredient (and complemented with the goodness of eight other hair-essential vitamins such as zinc, folic acid, cystine, selenium, copper, pantothenate, and manganese). If you take the example of plant-based biotin supplements made of biotin derived from 10,000 mcg of sesbania extract (Sesbania Agati is a rich source of plant biotin), they only contain 50 mcg of biotin as sesbania extract is standardised to 0.5% biotin.
Therefore, the kind of biotin tablets that you need to maintain and promote your hair health are the ones that are carefully formulated and rightly dosed. Hope this article helps you in choosing the best biotin supplements for your hair! Comment below and let us know!