Updated: Apr 22
Does it make hair healthier?
Biotin, or vitamin B-7, is one of the essential B vitamins and is important for your body to convert food to energy. While this is biotins main benefit, it is widely recognized for its effects on your hair, skin and nails. There is a lot of controversy as to whether or not the supplemental “beauty” benefits have any real truth behind them, so let’s break it down.
Most likely if you are reading this you either don’t know if biotin works for your hair or maybe have a sneaking suspicion that it doesn’t. It does, but only if you’re biotin deficient.
The stark reality is that 1 in every approximately 136,000 people (or .000007, yes that’s 5 zeros) is biotin deficient, so chances are you are probably not. If you are like most people your hair loss is probably due to other conditions such as alopecia, poor circulation, or other various issues, all of which supplementing with biotin will not help.
If you are convinced that biotin deficiency is the cause of your hair loss you should look for other symptoms to confirm your suspicions. Common side effects of biotin deficiency include red rashes on the skin or around the eyes, dry eyes and skin, fatigue, loss of appetite, depression, and frequent upset stomach.
Oh, you have some of these symptoms? Well sorry to be the bearer of bad news once again but those symptoms are also common with many other illnesses. The best way to make sure you are biotin deficient is to visit your doctor and get a blood test done.
But so many people swear by it?
Yes, this is very true, but people say a lot of things. The problem is that biotin is water soluble. What does this mean? It means that your body gets rid of any excess biotin that it doesn’t use. There is no official RDA (recommended daily allowance) for biotin, meaning you can take a lot of it. But do you need to? Probably not.
According to data by the National Institute of Health (NIH) the average daily intake of biotin amongst other developed western countries is between 35-70 micrograms per day. Unfortunately, there is no data on the average Americans intake, but one can infer that it is around the same 35-70 mcg per day.
Being that biotin deficiency is extremely rare it is most likely that the biotin you are getting from your diet is enough to keep your body happy and healthy. Biotin is found in a lot of food such as most meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, seeds, and some vegetables, so as long as you maintain a somewhat well balanced diet you do not need to worry about your b-7 intake.
Is there any evidence to support it?
Well technically yes, there have been several small studies indicating that biotin may help hair loss by improving keratins infrastructure. As you all probably know keratin is a very important protein that helps maintain the hairs structure. The problem is that there is a lack of evidence beyond these small studies.
For such a bold claim that biotin helps cure hair loss there needs to be more credible information and studies done to support that claim. At the moment there is little to no credible evidence, in fact there is quite the opposite.
Data from several studies has either shown lack of sufficient evidence or actually disproved biotins efficacy for hair loss. Again, this can most likely be attributed to the fact that it is water soluble and your body will dispose of any excess that it doesn’t need, often through urination.
So, is it worth it at all?
Depends. If you are pregnant it wouldn’t be a bad idea. This is because when you are pregnant your nutrient stores are being depleted faster than normal (to feed the little one). Although most times the drop in nutrients isn’t significant enough to produce any symptoms of biotin deficiency, data has shown that it can happen, which is why taking it is a viable option. Better safe than sorry.
There are also several digestive disorders such as Crohn’s, leaky gut, or celiac, which may affect your body’s absorption of nutrients, subsequently resulting in biotin deficiency. Although if this is the case, you are most likely deficient in several other important nutrients and should consult your doctor about what you need to be taking.
If you are suffering from male (or female) pattern baldness biotin is not going to save your hair. This is because pattern baldness is hormonal and based on your genetics. A much more viable option would be talking to your doctor about a finasteride prescription and using that in conjunction with minoxidil (both are FDA approved for hair loss).
In conclusion, supplementing with biotin is not the worst idea in the world. There could be a slim chance that you are not getting quite enough in your diet. DO NOT depend on it to cure your hair loss though. There are much more viable options for curing hair loss that taking a biotin pill just won’t. If you do want to take biotin for your hair loss, absolutely make sure there are other ingredients included, those of which work to block DHT, increase circulation, and address other more realistic causes of hair loss (hint: ours does). There is no point in just taking a 10,000 microgram pill of biotin because most likely 9,900 of that will not be used by your body.