The Truth About Biotin
Is Biotin Right For You?
As a cosmetologist, I firmly believe that the use of biotin to promote hair growth is a personal choice that should be guided by a medical professional. I will explain why throughout this blog but simply put, what works for one person may not work the same, if at all, for another. Because of this, I do not recommend that my clients randomly begin taking biotin hair growth. In this blog I will give you the information you need to make an informed decision. I think we should always take precautions when putting anything into our bodies.
What is Biotin?
Biotin is a member of the B complex family. It is naturally produced in the intestines by bacteria and as long as there are no other underlying conditions the amounts produced typically exceed the body’s daily requirement. So, people that have conditions that alter the balance of bacteria in the intestines may not be able to produce biotin adequately.
Our bodies use biotin to convert nutrients into energy. With a lack of biotin hair loss and other health issues are possible. However, a lack of biotin is rare. You are more than likely getting enough of it in the things you eat since it can be found in a variety of commonly eaten foods. We will discuss those foods later on. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Biotin and Hair Loss
Over the length of my 25 year career, I have consistently heard biotin being touted as the cure all to make hair grow and eliminate hair loss issues. There is no clinical evidence to support that. Most of the time it’s hearsay between friends, myths and old wives tales. To be fair, I will say that, even though The National Institutes of Health says there is no concrete evidence that supports biotin improving hair loss, studies conducted in both 2012 and 2015 showed some hair growth in areas of hair loss. Some of the controlled study’s female participants, who were experiencing what was noted as “self perceived” thinning hair, were given an oral supplement while others received a placebo. The participants that had the supplements showed signs of hair growth in the affected areas after 90 days of treatment. That being said, the studies noted there were other ingredients in combination with the biotin in the supplement they provided to the participants. Therefore, it may have been the combinations of ingredients, not the biotin alone, that may have helped in the hair growth the participants experienced. Again, what works for one person may not work for another person.
Biotin deficiency can cause thinning hair, brittle nails, dry skin, red scalp rash, conjunctivitis (pink eye), depression, exhaustion, hallucinations and numbness and/or tingling in the arms and legs. Sounds terrible, I know but before you run to the nearest pharmacy please note that these are also the same symptoms of various health issues so a doctors visit should probably come first.
Again, since biotin deficiency is rare, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not suggested a Recommenced Diatary Allowance (RDA). However, the food and nutrition board of the Institute of Medicine has suggested 30 mcg is adequate daily intake for adults 19 and older. This is equivalent to what most people receive through a regular diet.
This is probably a lot different from what you have been told, since many physicians, who are in favor a biotin supplementation, have been noted as recommending 2000-5000 mcg of biotin daily to strengthen hair and achieve desired results. That being said, there is no current evidence of the effects of long term/high dose use. So if this is the dosage you are currently taking please be cautious.
Biotin rich foods
You are probably getting enough biotin through the foods you eat regularly. If you still want to increase your biotin intake without taking pills and you’re anything like me and you struggle with taking pills daily, there is a way for you to get more biotin in your diet. Here is a list of biotin rich foods that can help.
Liver or Kidney
Meat (chicken, beef, pork)
Vegetables (carrots, spinach, mushrooms, lettuce, cauliflower, tomato,
Fruits (apples, bananas)
Nuts (almonds, peanuts, walnuts)
Soy beans or other legumes
Whole grains, oats
Biotin: The good news and the bad news
The benefits of biotin don’t stop at its ability to promote healthy hair and nails. It has other beneficial properties as well. Biotin is a B complex vitamin that supports a healthy metabolism. It converts food into energy and helps maintain normal body functions. It is best known for reducing inflammation, improving cognitive function, lowering blood sugar in people with diabetes, and increasing good cholesterol and decreasing bad cholesterol.
With all of these wonderful benefits we must also make sure we understand the side effects of increasing our biotin intake. Although biotin is water soluble and much of the overage will be past out of the body as waste, there can be adverse effects of taking too much. A report published by the New England Journal of Medicine and the FDA have stated that biotin by supplement, if taken at higher dosages, can interfere with lab tests and behaves similarly to Graves’ disease, a thyroid disorder. Since there are several hair loss disorders that mimic the symptoms of biotin deficiency, taking a supplement on your own can prolong the diagnosis and treatment of another underlying issue. This is why it is crucial to ask your physician if taking a biotin supplement is right for you.
Well there you have it... the best information to help you make the best decision for you!!
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