Facts Checked By Freewill Beauty Experts - Written by Rithi Choudhury (Journalist) on 16th Oct 2020
Biotin For Hair: Is It Good For Your Hair Growth
When it comes to skin and hair aesthetics, we have seen the coming and going of several vitamins, superfoods, supplements, and potions that claim to enhance our skin and hair health. While several of these supplements were nothing but over-hyped, interestingly, many of them lived up to its claim, and some were just unnecessary.
One such popular vitamin that is all over Instagram is Biotin. But we are not blindly buying some gummy bear biotin supplements or biotin-enriched hair products just because influencer XYZ raves about how it helped her hair grow and made it so glossy. Like a mindful consumer, we will dig in into the 101 of biotin, understand how it works, and if it is worth our money and hair?
What is Biotin?
Biotin, also called vitamin H, vitamin B7, or vitamin B8, is an essential water-soluble nutrient belonging to the B-complex vitamin group. It is needed to efficiently carry several metabolic activities and aid in the maintenance of skin, hair, and nails. It helps in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. It is also responsible for producing the essential protein Keratin, which makes up most of our hair, skin, and nails.
Benefits Of Biotin
1) Converts Nutrients Into Energy
Why do we eat food? If your answer is ''to stay alive'' well, you are not wrong, but the more appropriate solution is for obtaining energy that allows us to move about in our day to day lives.
Biotin helps support several enzymes that break down the food into simpler forms that can be quickly taken up by the bloodstream and carry it all over the body. The individual cells convert it into energy.
2) Better Skin
The truth is that there exists no concrete evidence that biotin makes the skin any better than it already is. The idea that biotin improves the skin maybe because it helps in the synthesis of fatty acids by assisting the enzymes responsible for their production. Biotin thus helps in reducing inflammation and thereby may help with inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
3) Stronger Hair
As is the claim with skin, even when it comes to "better hair with biotin," there's no substantial evidence to prove its efficacy. Even though few studies showed some hair growth, it did not make a massive difference.
One exact thing is that biotin helps synthesize amino acids that produce the Keratin (protein making up our skin, hair, and nails). One should always take these studies and their results with a grain of salt because they are carried out on a limited pool of people.
Each individual has a different response to a specific vitamin or supplementation. Because a particular vitamin or food supplement did wonders or did nothing at all for saying about 100 people does not mean that it will prove to be good or not right for you.
4) Healthy Nails
Biotin helps in making weak, brittle nails strong and increases the nail plate thickness, according to a study.
5) Regulates Blood Sugar
Even though a survey carried out in Iran showed that biotin helped prevent insulin resistance, it is not enough to prove its effectiveness in controlling diabetes in humans. More thorough evidence and research is needed on that.
6) Healthy Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the mother is feeding not only herself but also her unborn child. At this time, she may go through several nutrient deficiencies, biotin deficiency being one of them. To ensure both the mother and the fetus are healthy, doctors often prescribe biotin and folic acid (iron) supplements.
What Would You Call a Biotin Rich Diet?
The biotin from the diet is usually enough to meet the daily requirements (that is 30 mcg for an adult), and remember, being water-soluble, it is not stored in the body for long.
Therefore it needs to be frequently added to the diet to allow the body to absorb it.
Some common foods rich in biotin are:
- Sunflower seeds
- Sweet potato
- Unpolished Rice
Biotin Deficiency and Consequences
The natural flora (bacteria) present in our intestines makes up enough biotin for our daily requirements. We are adding additional biotin to our body through our diet, and that isn't bad as the excess amount will be flushed out of the body, being a water-soluble vitamin.
Even though biotin deficiency is pretty rare, it may lead to many severe health conditions. It can cause alopecia (hair loss in patches), dermatitis, mild depression, muscle pain, lethargy, seizures, audio-vision weakening, acidemia(build-up of acid in the bloodstream), burning or prickling sensation in hands, arms, legs, feet, and other parts of the body, developmental delay in children, etc.
Consuming many raw eggs leads to vitamin deficiency as raw egg whites (instead of cooked eggs) contain a chemical called avidin that attaches itself to biotin and hinders its absorption by the body.
Consuming too much alcohol, taking too many antibiotics, and certain acne medications may also lead to biotin deficiency.
Did You Know:
H in vitamin H stands for ''Haar und Haut,'' German for hair and skin.
Should You Take Biotin Supplements?
In case you think that you are not getting enough biotin from your diet, taking a supplement is a good idea. But consult with your physician first to be on the safer side.
Generally, biotin being a water-soluble vitamin, does not carry any risk of overdosing. Because the excess of the vitamin would be flushed out through your system, however, if you are taking a biotin supplement, overdosing may happen even though it is scarce.
A common misconception that hair fall is a result of biotin deficiency is not always true. Hair fall can be caused due to several factors like a family history of hair fall, genetics, taking certain other medications, underlying health condition, nutritional deficiency, stress, and environmental aggressors to list a few.
If you have a biotin deficiency in the body, then taking supplements will help restore the deficient biotin levels and subsequently assist with the symptoms its deficiency causes. But if the biotin levels in your body are sufficient, then taking supplements will not give you any additional benefits or enhance your hair's health any further.
Side Effects Of Biotin
Like is the case with every other health supplements, biotin may cause some minor side effects in some people, which include:
- Skin Rashes
- Stomach upsets
Since an excess of synthetic biotin supplements may cause these side effects, therefore, it is advised to always consult a licensed dermatologist before getting a bottle of biotin supplements from a health store or ordering online without extensive research. A dermatologist would know the state of your hair and skin, whether or not you will benefit from biotin supplements.
Biotin Enriched Hair Products
Biotin enriched hair products such as shampoo, conditioners, and serums claim to provide all the benefits of biotin claims on the hair. But there is not enough concrete evidence to prove its efficacy for enhanced hair health.
Few studies support the preposterous claims of biotin floating over the internet for hair and skin health. In the medical world, biotin and its ability to enhance skin, hair, and nail aesthetics are not extensively researched. As already mentioned, its deficiency is very rare and, therefore, not given strict attention yet.
But the evidence is yet not enough to prove that a hair product containing biotin is superior to another product with proven to be beneficial ingredients like panthenol, vitamin E, etc.
If you are looking to enhance your hair's health or restore it to life from its dry, brittle and rough state, then ingredients like coconut oil, argan oil; minerals like iron, zinc; vitamins like C and E, etc. would be excellent for your hair. These ingredients have been extensively studied, and research has proven their effectiveness in amplifying hair health and nourishing dehydrated or damaged hair.
If biotin is an ingredient in your hair care products, it isn't a bad thing, obviously, but if in any way they are ridiculously priced because of the Biotin-enriched claim, you know better than where to put your money.