The Truth About Biotin for Hair, Skin, and Nails

Biotin is one of the hottest supplements on the market right now. Everyone from medical experts, news headlines, and beauty bloggers seem to be extolling its virtues, and it’s available nearly everywhere. Is it worth the price, however?

Today, we’re taking a closer look at claims about biotin for hair, skin, and nails to determine what’s true and what’s simply rhetoric. We’ll explore claims about the vitamin, check out popular biotin supplements, and even look at alternate ways to make sure you get enough.

Plus, we’ll explore whether or not biotin can be dangerous for you and how to know if you have a deficiency. Let’s get started!

Biotin is Pretty Common

Biotin word cloud concept on grey background.

Biotin can be found in a lot of the foods we consume on a daily basis, like wheat (it’s in the yeast, too), eggs, mushrooms, and vegetables. What makes biotin difficult to track, however, is that scientists aren’t able to find it reliably.

That is, the range of biotin found in different foods when tested varies wildly. Eggs, for example, are known to be one of the most concentrated sources of biotin, but in one egg you might receive as little as 13mg of the vitamin or as much as 25mg. Plus, raw egg yolks are thought to interfere with the body’s absorption of the vitamin.

The bottom line: there’s a lot we still don’t know about it! What we do know, however, is that most people can get enough in their daily lives, following their usual diets. Why, then, is biotin so popular today?

One of the reasons is that biotin is a water-soluble vitamin, which means our bodies don’t store it in fat, like they do Vitamin K. We have to consume it daily, with great regularity, or we might become deficient. It also is a vital process in our body’s breaking down of fats and carbohydrates. Without biotin, we don’t get the nutrients we need.

Another reason biotin is so popular right now is that it has some incredible benefits.

Why We Love Biotin

We mentioned biotin plays an important role in helping our bodies process food, but biotin has some incredible benefits all on its own.

Diabetes

There is some available evidence that suggests people with diabetes may commonly experience biotin deficiencies.

This can be problematic, as biotin might help increase insulin production, which in turn allows more glucose to be picked up on a cellular level, which stimulates the body to produce glucokinase to help break down sugars in the bloodstream.

One study found that people with type 2 diabetes experienced a 45% drop in fasting blood sugar concentrations when they took biotin daily. This is great news for those suffering from high diabetes levels!

There’s more good news: another study found that diabetic patients who took high doses of biotin experienced improvements to their neuropathy, something commonly experienced in diabetics.

Faster Metabolism

We’ve already explained that biotin plays a role in our bodies ability to metabolize (or, breakdown) the nutrients we ingest, but it doesn’t stop there.

Side by side with other B vitamins, biotin (also known as Vitamin B7), helps to ramp up your metabolism by converting glucose–obtained from the broken down carbs and sugars–into energy your body can use.

Further, biotin plays a role in helping your body use and activate proteins and fatty acids. We can’t stress enough: biotin is crucial!

Can Biotin Strengthen My Heart?

There’s even indication that biotin supplement benefits may include helping prevent heart disease. Doctors have found that steep doses of biotin can lower triglycerides in people who have very high levels. Since elevated levels of triglyceride can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, biotin may soon become a popular drug amount cardiac doctors.

Experts have also found that, when combined with chromium, biotin plays a real in HDL (good cholesterol) going up and LDL (bad cholesterol) going down. Again, since cholesterol plays such a pivotal role in the development of heart disease, this is promising news.

Just call biotin the wonder drug!

Prevent Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are so common that it’s likely you currently know somebody who is impacted by the symptoms. Biotin, however, might be able to help. The vitamin plays an important role in nervous system health.

In fact, it helps with nerve signaling and neurotransmitter activity, two things impacted in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s not just the nerves, however. B vitamins, in general, are vital to promoting positive moods, increased energy, and better concentration.

Those benefits alone are enough to make us want to stock up on biotin, but they don’t stop there!

Faster Nails, Stronger Hair

Biotin supplements for nails and biotin supplement for hair growth are common for a reason; biotin plays a vital role in helping to build and repair muscles and other bodily tissue. In fact, without the B vitamins, your muscles will lack the strength they need to function, and they’ll struggle to regrow or repair.

It’s not just muscles, however, that benefit from biotin. Vitamin B7 (biotin) and Vitamin B5 are both crucial alternative treatments in the war against hair loss. The reason is that biotin is known to help your rebuild its outer layer after damage from heat, UV rays from the sun, and chemical treatments like perms.

Working with biotin, Vitamin B5 helps to support our adrenal glands which in turn stimulate further hair growth. In fact, in 2011, a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that a Vitamin B5 analog was able help strengthen and to grow hair in people with thinning hair.

woman with curly hair in front of intricate wall

Image via HealthLine

It’s also worth noting that many of the individuals suffering hair loss are women who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding. Hair loss, in fact, is a sign of a biotin deficiency, and it’s not uncommon to meet a postpartum woman dealing with the symptom.

Researchers are beginning to believe that biotin–which is relied on heavily during pregnancy to grow and build the new life–becomes in short supply in these women, causing hair loss to abound. These experts point to the difficulty we currently have in testing for biotin and recommend increased levels of the supplement during breastfeeding.

At the end of the day, however, when you’re looking at biotin’s benefits for growing or strengthening your hair, skin, or nails, you’ll find you won’t see significant improvement unless you’re already deficient. Unfortunately, that’s not always easy to determine.

The Truth About Testing

As we’ve just mentioned, one of the biggest challenges to determining what’s true and what’s not about biotin for hair, skin, and nails is that lab tests currently struggle to detect deficiencies.

What makes things even more complicated is that high levels of biotin can skew other test results, causing people to receive the wrong medical treatment or not receive medical treatment at all.

One of the best ways to decide whether or not you should take biotin for hair, skin, and nails is to determine if you’re experiencing symptoms of deficiency or if you’re in an at-risk category.

Symptoms

If you are experiencing a (rare) biotin deficiency, you might encounter the following:

  • Hair loss or dramatic increase of hair breakage
  • Nerve damage or muscle aches
  • Dry skin that it also irritated or sensitive
  • Chronic fatigue, lack of energy, or extensive exhaustion
  • GI or digestive issues

In addition to knowing the symptoms of a biotin deficiency, you should also be aware of the risk factors for a biotin deficiency:

  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding (especially multiple pregnancies in quick succession)
  • Long-term antibiotic use
  • Heavy consumption of alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Intestinal issues, such as Chron’s disease, leaky gut syndrome, or celiac disease

Recommended Dosages

If you do decide to take biotin for hair, skin, and nails–or other reasons–here are the suggested biotin supplement dosage daily recommended values from the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine:

  • Infants: 5 micrograms
  • Children ages 7 months to 3 years: 6-8 micrograms
  • Children ages 4-13 years: 12-20 micrograms
  • Adolescents aged 14-18: 25 micrograms
  • Men and women over 19: 25 micrograms
  • Pregnant women: 30 micrograms
  • Breastfeeding women: 35 micrograms

The Choice is Yours

The bottom line for us is the biotin is an important supplement. If you experience symptoms of biotin deficiency or are in an at-risk category, it’s worth taking a supplement to determine if you see improvement or not. Otherwise, it’s probably best to take very low dosages or stop altogether.

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