Megan writes about health and wellness issues, among other topics.
What is Biotin?
Biotin is a vitamin of the B vitamin family. It is also known as vitamin B7, or Vitamin H. It is a water soluble vitamin. It is a part of an enzyme that allows our bodies to break down nutrients and convert them into energy. Biotin deficiency is uncommon, but presents with symptoms of rash on the face around the eyes and nose, depression, tiredness, and brittle hair or nails. Biotin as a supplement is most often taken for cosmetic purposes, to improve brittle hair or nails, and in some cases may be indicated for depression. Since diabetes may cause biotin deficiency, biotin may be taken by individuals with diabetes.
Food Sources That Contain Biotin
We can get biotin from a lot of the foods we eat. Biotin is found in animal sources like red meat, egg yolks, and salmon, but is also present in some plant sources like nuts, seeds, avocados, and leafy greens. Eggs, liver, legumes, and nuts and seeds are highest on the list for most potent food sources of biotin. An egg yolk provides about 10 mcg of biotin. Three ounces of liver could provide over 130 mcg of biotin. The “adequate intake” level of biotin (similar to the recommended daily value for essential vitamins and minerals) is 30 mcg.
In comparison to the levels of biotin present in certain foods above, most biotin supplements contain somewhere around 5000 mcg of biotin, which is 1667% higher than the daily adequate intake level. This is much higher than the amount of biotin one would consume from food products, even if consuming a lot of foods from the list of those highest in biotin. There are no “upper levels” or maximum levels of recommended biotin intake, since excess biotin is not really reported to cause negative or dangerous side effects. Since biotin is water-soluble, any excess intake of this vitamin will be eliminated via urine.
Many supplement companies advertise biotin as a hair growth supplement either alone, or as part of a combination with other vitamins or herbs. Nutrafol sells a hair health supplement that contains 10,000% the recommended adequate intake of biotin. It also contains other ingredients purported to boost hair growth, such as horsetail, ashwagandha, collagen, and saw palmetto. Bondi Boost, a popular Australian brand that sells hair growth shampoos, masks, and sprays, also sells a hair growth vitamin that contains 1250 mcg of biotin. Vital Proteins, a popular collagen brand (collagen also has supposed beauty benefits such as improving skin, hair, and nails), sells a vitamin called Beauty Boost, which in addition to folate, vitamin E, and vitamin C, contains 500% of the recommended daily intake of biotin. These are just a few of many brands that sell products containing biotin claiming to boost hair growth.
Biotin Hair Care Products
There are lots of shampoos out there containing biotin that also claim to boost hair growth. These products often claim that applying biotin topically will do better for your hair than ingesting it as a supplement. The idea is that biotin can strengthen the hair follicle, which therefore will result in healthier hair growing out. The shampoos advertise themselves as remedies for brittle or thinning hair. According to WebMD, there is no evidence that biotin added to topical hair care products works, however, and they recommend a diet rich in natural biotin sources to boost hair health.
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Some popular shampoos containing biotin are certain lines of Matrix Biolage, Olapex, and even the drugstore brand Pantene ProV.
Biotin’s Effect on Hair Growth
The science behind biotin and hair growth shows that biotin boosts keratin production. Keratin is a protein, and is found in our hair and nails, as well as in other animals such as in horns or feathers. Keratin is considered a protective protein, less prone to damage and scratching than other cellular structures and cells in our body, and is therefore important in overall hair strength and health. Biotin also may speed up hair follicle growth, leading to faster overall growth. Dermatologist say there is not enough evidence that biotin does all of this unless you already had a biotin deficiency, though. If you already are consuming biotin, since it goes through our system quickly and we eliminate any extra of it we don’t need, it may not make a difference.
What Happens When You Stop Taking Biotin?
Our bodies use biotin quickly, immediately once it is consumed, and it is not stored in the body. Therefore, any benefit you receive from taking biotin will quickly reverse once you stop taking it for a few days. If you find that biotin is helpful for hair growth or slowing hair thinning, you will need to make it a part of your daily routine indefinitely.
Contraindications to Biotin Use
Is there anyone who should not take biotin? If you take too much biotin, it is possible that it could affect your kidneys, or give you a rash or upset stomach. Also, biotin can interfere with some lab tests such as those used to test for thyroid conditions. Lab tests for folate, NT-proBNP, testosterone, and immune system function lab tests may also be affected by biotin intake before the labs are drawn. If you take biotin, it is recommended that you temporarily stop the supplement for 72 hours before labs so that it doesn’t alter the results.
The majority of hair growth supplements contain biotin, to varying degrees. Biotin has long been thought of as a supplement to boost hair health, but it is controversial whether it actually works. I personally have been taking the Amazon brand biotin for the past two months. Has my hair grown? It is not substantially longer yet, but about two weeks after starting the biotin I noticed my nails were feeling stronger, and, unexpectedly, my eyebrows were looking a lot more filled in. I plan to continue to take biotin for at least six months to see if there are further results. While it may be controversial whether or not biotin speeds up hair growth, it is generally safe to take and worth a try if you are experiencing brittle hair or nails.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Md Anamul Haque Khan from Dhaka on April 11, 2021:
what is the majority of hair growth supplements contain biotin? Are you sure has my hair grown?