Biotin: Boosting Hair Health with Oral and Topical Solutions

Daily consumption of the vitamin biotin is essential to your health. It is involved in many critical bodily functions, such as the production of keratin. Keratin is the primary protein that makes up hair. Some believe biotin supplements can help reverse hair loss and promote hair growth. There are numerous biotin supplements on the market and products containing biotin that promise to help re-grow hair. Read on to learn what the research shows about biotin and hair loss.

Key takeaways:

What is biotin?

Biotin, also known as vitamin B7 or vitamin H, is a water-soluble vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins can dissolve in water and be excreted in urine. They are not stored in your body like fat-soluble vitamins, so you must consume daily amounts of these vitamins, like biotin, to prevent a deficiency. Also, since it is easily removed from your body by your kidneys, they are less likely to reach toxic levels if you consume too much.

Biotin is an essential vitamin that is in charge of critical bodily functions, such as converting food into energy. It helps break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins into products the body can use to make energy for the body to live. It can also help make keratin, regulate glucose, and benefit the kidneys. Keratin is the main protein that makes up hair, skin, and nails.

Causes of hair loss

Hair loss is multifactorial in nature, as it can be caused by many different intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

Intrinsic factors stem from internal problems that are out of your control. They include genetics, such as biotin deficiency or androgenic alopecia, and internal medical conditions, like anemia or hypothyroidism. The good news is that most of these medical conditions can be treated with medications, which will in turn improve your hair loss.

Extrinsic factors, on the other hand, are definitely in our control. Many are the results of poor lifestyle choices. These factors include stress, poor nutrition or diet, improper hair care practices, excess sun exposure, smoking and excess alcohol consumption, and certain medications. Your doctor may or may not be able to substitute the culprit medication with one that will not cause hair loss. Sometimes the medications are lifesaving, and you must take them regardless of the side effects, like blood thinners.

Can biotin treat hair loss?

There is insufficient evidence to support oral biotin supplementation or topical use of biotin products to reverse hair loss. Some small studies have shown improvement in hair loss with biotin, while others have not. If your hair loss is due to biotin deficiency, then biotin supplementation should reverse it.

Can biotin prevent hair loss?

There are few research studies supporting the use of oral biotin supplements to prevent hair loss despite claims on the internet. Also, there are none regarding the use of topical biotin to prevent hair loss. If you have a biotin deficiency, then biotin supplements should help prevent and treat hair loss since a consequence of biotin deficiency is hair loss. More extensive research is needed to determine if biotin supplements can prevent hair loss in patients who are not biotin deficient.

How does biotin deficiency happen?

Biotin deficiency is more common than you think. People with biotin deficiency usually report hair loss accompanied by a rash. It can occur due to various causes, some of which are controllable. These causes include smoking, bad diet, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic alcohol use, a genetic deficiency, and consumption of medications like antibiotics, antiepileptics, and retinoids.

Natural sources of biotin

Because daily consumption of biotin is critical to normal body functions, the easiest way to get enough biotin is through proper diet and nutrition. Non-pregnant adults require 30 mcg per day, while pregnant adults need 35 mcg per day. You can obtain enough biotin by adding certain foods to your diet every day without having to consume biotin supplements.

Foods high in biotin include:

  • Cooked eggs
  • Organ meat, like liver
  • Nuts
  • Fish

Products that contain biotin

If you would like to try biotin, but do not want to take oral supplements, there are various topical products that contain biotin. Preliminary studies have shown some success with topical biotin, but it was used in combination with other ingredients. This makes it difficult to determine if biotin helped hair loss or if it was one of the other ingredients.

These haircare products include:

  • Biotin serum for hair
  • Biotin shampoo for hair growth
  • Biotin spray and cream conditioners
  • Hair masks
  • Biotin hair oil

Side effects of biotin

Biotin supplements are considered relatively safe, even in larger quantities. This is because biotin is water-soluble and easily excreted by the kidneys in our urine. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body like fat-soluble vitamins, so they usually do not reach toxic levels. However, it is not advisable to consume large amounts of biotin unless you are biotin deficient.

It is best to first talk to your doctor about oral biotin supplements before starting a regimen to see if they are right for you.

The risk of experiencing side effects from low-dose biotin supplements and biotin gummies for hair growth is low. That is why they are considered safe. However, some people have reported stomach upset. If you consume too much biotin, some people have reported insomnia, problems urinating, rash, and excessive thirst. Too much biotin can also interfere with certain laboratory tests, like thyroid function.

Even topical biotin products can potentially cause some side effects. While side effects from biotin products are rare, they can happen just as they can with any topical product. You may want to consider trying a test spot first on your arm before using it all over your scalp. These potential side effects include redness, irritation, itching, allergic reaction, flaking, or rash.

Biotin is an essential vitamin that is crucial to the proper daily function of the human body, including the production of hair. This is why many believe biotin supplements and biotin hair products can help hair grow and reverse hair loss. However, the use of biotin supplements or topical products containing biotin is not supported by research unless you are deficient in biotin. Talk to your doctor first before starting any biotin supplements to ensure it is right for you.


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