If you’ve kept up with your health blogs and micronutrient trivia, you will have heard the word “biotin” being bandied about with increasing frequency lately. It’s often mentioned in the context of healthy hair, nails, and skin. It’s also inspired a number of questions and uncertainties amongst readers. Does Biotin make your hair thicker? Can you ingest it naturally or do you need biotin supplements? Is it toxic or safe to consume? In this blog, we’ll answer these questions and break down the cluster of information around it to give you some important takeaways.
Fast Biotin Facts
Biotin Is a Vitamin
Biotin is a B-complex vitamin — B7 to be precise — that helps break down the food you consume into vital energy for your body. Its name comes from the Greek word “biotos” which means “life-giving.”
Biotin Is Good for Your Hair and Nails
Biotin plays an important role in producing keratin, which is the main protein in your skin, hair, and nails. According to experts, biotin stimulates keratin formation, which promotes healthy hair follicle growth, improved skin hydration, and strengthened fingernails. If your body is deficient in biotin, it can lead to brittle nails, dry skin, and hair loss.
It Has Other Benefits Too
Studies reveal that biotin may help with symptoms of diabetes, by helping regulate blood sugar levels. It’s also thought to help reduce cholesterol and speed up healing.
Not Synthesized by the Body
It’s a fact that biotin is not naturally produced by the human body (although your gut bacteria could produce it). It’s also a water-soluble vitamin, so your body doesn’t store it for long either. This means that all your biotin intake has to come from everything you consume.
Present in Natural Foods
Biotin is present in a variety of foods you normally eat, including fruits, eggs, dairy products, legumes, whole grains, and organ meat, such as liver. However, the nutrient base of our soil isn’t what it used to be. As a result, even though you may have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, you may not be consuming enough of the vitamin. People with vitamin deficiencies might find that biotin does make your hair thicker.
Biotin Supplements Can Help
A number of people prefer to take supplements to support their biotin intake. In particular, they’re believed to help with conditions like hair loss, dry or flaky skin, and brittle nails. Anyone can take biotin supplements to improve keratin formation in their systems. However, people with underlying health conditions or genetic predispositions are advised to consult a doctor before they begin a biotin routine.
It’s Not Toxic or Allergenic
Biotin is essential to overall bodily function and not toxic at all. As a matter of fact, biotin is thought to carry very little risk even in very large doses. It’s also not possible to be allergic to it, since the body needs it. However, it is possible to be allergic to a different ingredient in the food or biotin supplement you may want to consume, so a little research is advisable.
Can Biotin Prevent Hair Loss?
Fun biotin facts aside, the question on everyone’s mind when they’re reading up on biotin’s effects are almost always: ‘can it prevent hair loss?’ and does biotin make my hair thicker?’. To that end, let’s have a look at what causes hair loss and to what extent you might benefit from taking biotin supplements.
What’s causing your hair loss?
A lot of people don’t realize that hair loss isn’t something that uniformly affects everyone. For most people, the reason behind their hair loss might even not be the same as their neighbor’s. Here’s the lowdown on the most common causes of hair loss.
- Vitamin Deficiencies: It’s easy to be irresponsible with your diet when you’re living a fast paced lifestyle that leaves little room for meal prep. A biotin fact is that its deficiencies can be accompanied by deficiencies in iron and zinc. If your body isn’t getting enough of these nutrients, it could easily lead to heavy hair loss. The good news here is that if this is the sole culprit, then you can also expect your body to regrow the lost hair once the nutrients are replenished.
- Hereditary: Sometimes, the cards are just stacked against us. Both men and women are susceptible to hereditary hair loss if they inherit certain genes. This type of hair loss is also known as male/female pattern baldness. Unfortunately, biotin supplements tend to be unreliable when it comes to restoring lost hair in people suffering from hereditary conditions. However, there are certain treatments like minoxidil or rogaine that can slow down the process.
- Physical Damage: Fun biotin fact, using supplements won’t help if you’re being needlessly rough with your hair. This includes keeping it tightly held in a bun for extended amounts of time, or having your hair tugged at due to headgear for long durations. Pulling of this nature can cause damage to your hair follicles. This also includes repeatedly undergoing hair coloring or perm procedures.
If you’re suffering from a deficiency, biotin does make your hair thicker and support regrowth. However, it’s important to note that zeroing in on a single cause of hair loss is incredibly difficult, and you should always leave the diagnosis up to a professional. Self-diagnosing and medicating can end up causing more harm than benefit in the long run.
An uncomfortable biotin fact is that a lot of people struggle to find and sustainably manage a diet that incorporates essential nutrients, including vitamin B7. If you don’t have access to a source of high quality supplements, here’s what you can do to get that daily intake up.
Certain types of meats, particularly liver, are fantastic sources of biotin. A portion of beef liver can contain over 28 mcg of vitamin B7! If you can’t get your hands on liver, there’s also cheaper alternatives such as kidneys that still contain an above average amount of biotin. All that said, don’t take this as a license to splurge out on just any type of meat, it’s a biotin fact that its contents vary radically across different types of animal produce.
Picking up a serving of liver can be healthy for your hair, but terrible for your wallet. Thankfully, there’s an awesome alternative that’s also accessible for vegetarians and vegans – nuts & seeds! Even though the biotin concentration varies, nuts and seeds do help your hair grow thicker. You’re going to want to look out for biotin-rich varieties such as almonds, pecans, and sunflower seeds.
Avocados are absolute all-rounders when it comes to healthy foods. Another biotin fact: its contents are supplemented by other goodies such as vitamin E, that can do wonders for your skin. A single serving of avocado can contain up to 10 micrograms of biotin, making it a worthy replacement for meat.
If you’re looking for a superfood that’ll help you round off your diet, avocados are the best call. Not only do they complement a variety of diets with how versatile they are, but their biotin content is matched with potassium. The potassium content in avocados helps regulate blood pressure and also helps nerves. Did we mention they’re also great antioxidants?
Dairy’s probably the most readily available source of biotin, considering the seasonal and expensive nature of avocados. If you’re finding it tough to get your hands on premium seeds and biotin-rich meat, dairy’s your next best bet. Everything from cheese to yogurt contains biotin, however, the amounts you’d get are relatively smaller than what you’d get from meat or nuts.
As far as biotin facts go, most of us grew up being told to eat our leafy greens thanks to all the nutrients they contain. That said, it’s not widely known that they’re also a great source of biotin as well as the usual nutrients like vitamin C. Vegetables like broccoli are dense with vitamin B7, and can be cooked in a variety of different ways to keep interesting.
Eating biotin-rich leafy greens does help your hair grow thicker and stronger. Boil them one day and fry them the next, the choices are endless! The value of leafy greens as a biotin source also shoots up thanks to how affordable they are. They lack the seasonality of avocados and are accessible for both non-vegetarians and vegans.
How Much Biotin Is Enough For Me?
As with most health-related questions, the answer varies from person to person. Another biotin fact is that the perfect amount depends on personal factors like height and weight. On an average, doctors recommend around 30 mcg of biotin per day. It’s worth noting that there are also regional disparities when it comes to biotin consumption. Western populations tend to eat more biotin-rich foods such as livers.
There are also a few conditional factors that you’ll have to keep in mind when you’re planning the perfect biotin-rich diet. Certain groups of people find themselves at a higher risk of being deficient in nutrients, this includes:
- Pregnant women.
- Women who regularly breastfeed.
- People who consume large amounts of alcohol regularly.
- People with natural vitamin deficiencies.
If you fit into one of these categories, it might be worth consulting a nutritionist to figure out what the optimal amount of biotin for you might be.
Biotin Facts – What To Watch Out For
Even though biotin as a supplement is pretty safe considering it’s a vitamin, there are still a few things you should watch out for when looking to boost your diet. The water-solubility of biotin makes it tough to overdose on, since it readily dissolves into the body. That said, it’s still possible to ingest an abnormal amount. Biotin overdoses can cause urinary problems, make you thirsty, and also mess with your sleep cycle.
Biotin does make your hair thicker, however, taking it means that it naturally raises the biotin concentration in your blood. This can become a problem if you’re someone who regularly needs to get tested for thyroid or heart conditions. This is because biotin is, in fact, also used as a biological marker for lab tests. When testing different types of blood, scientists will use biotin to observe how it binds with different proteins, which helps them come to a final diagnosis.
There are also certain types of medication that can increase your chances of developing a biotin deficiency. These can include common medicines such as antibiotics taken over a long period of time, which tend to destroy beneficial bacteria. If you’re someone who regularly takes antiepileptic or anti-seizure medication, you could also be at risk of a biotin deficiency.
Better Hair, Made Easy
To summarize, does biotin make your hair thicker and stronger? Yes. Is it a magic pill? No. It’s just a solid, versatile nutrient that’s important for the human body. For more biotin facts and biotin supplements, check out Howdy Handsome’s Hair Enhancement page, which talks about our proprietary hair care formulation containing biotin and other handpicked ingredients. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions.