Biotin (vitamin H or vitamin B7) might as well be called the "hair" vitamin. After all, it plays a critical role in hair growth. As part of the B-complex family of vitamins, it helps with energy creation and keeps hair, skin, and nails healthy. When you have a biotin deficiency, your hair thins and falls out. Thinning hair isn't solely a male problem either.
According to Harvard Health, over 30% of women experience hair loss at some point in their lives. (1) Losing hair for men and women is a traumatizing and disturbing health concern, and a biotin supplement may help. The question then becomes, "How much biotin should you take for hair growth?" In this article, we'll answer this question and help you understand if biotin is right for you.
Biotin is a water-soluble compound that helps improve hair quality by boosting keratin. Keratin is a hair protein that's a building-block for shiny, healthy hair. In essence, keratin needs biotin to provide the hair structure it needs.
Although scientists aren't sure how it works and research in this area is still developing. However, anecdotal evidence from many biotin users raves about the hair-boosting power the supplement provides. Receiving a keratin treatment at many hair salons is common.
There has been one small study of 60 women that showed taking biotin with a marin protein supplement (MPS) significantly boosted hair growth compared to those taking the placebo. (2) The study also showed women had less hair shedding. Another study in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology by the same researcher showed similar results— biotin supplementation boosted hair growth. (3)
Since biotin deficiency isn't common, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) hasn't been set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Instead, speak to your healthcare provider about the right dose for your body. When setting a correct dose, experts look your age, sex, and general health help determine what's right for you. Overall, doctors follow these dietary guidelines.
Since these are suggested guidelines, you may need a stronger dose to boost hair growth with biotin.
The Mayo Clinic says doses up to 10 mcg daily doesn’t cause any adverse effects. (4) In other studies, taking biotin at higher levels caused no adverse effects, too. (5) Biotin is an essential vitamin for the human body, but any excess is flushed out through elimination. However, In some cases, biotin may have some possible side effects.
In some cases, taking a high dose of biotin may cause false positives for lab results. If you have a test to check for hormone or vitamin levels, biotin can cause a misdiagnosis. In some cases, people came up positive for Graves disease or hyperthyroidism, according to the National Health Institute.
Adults aren't the only ones that this can happen to as well. Children have received false positives as well when taking high doses. If this happens, you may need to lower your dose. The FDA recommends that men and women stop taking biotin before undergoing specific blood work.
Biotin can interact poorly with some medications. Some medications might cause poor biotin absorption, leading to deficiencies. People with epilepsy taking anticonvulsant medications may develop low levels of biotin. (6)
The exact reason for this occurrence is unclear, but experts surmise it's connected to how the medications limit the biotin absorption in the intestines. It interferes with breaking down carbohydrates into smaller pieces to be converted into solid fuel.
While a biotin deficiency isn't common, there are some signs.
Biotin helps build strong nails, and when you have a deficiency, your nails may become brittle. The production of keratin becomes less, leading to weak nails.
Hair loss may be one of the most definite signs of a biotin deficiency. While hair loss may happen after pregnancy or be due to stress, a biotin deficiency may be the cause. As with nails, biotin is the building block for keratin, the protein that produces lush hair. When you have low levels, your hair falls out.
Biotin helps regulate blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels may develop into diabetes, which is a severe disease. Studies show that a biotin supplement may help with glucose control.
As an essential vitamin, the most natural way to boost biotin levels is through a healthy diet. The following biotin-rich foods will help increase your levels.
You must consume foods minimally processed when trying to increase biotin levels through your diet.
If you believe you're not getting enough biotin to stimulate hair growth, you can try a high-quality supplement. Biotin supplements come in creams, capsules, and tablets. Biotin creams are available over the counter and provide a safe and effective way to generate hair follicle growth. It's essential to read the packaging information and follow your doctor's guidelines.
If you're looking for silky strands and thick hair, biotin may be the answer. How much you should take will depends on your age, sex, and body health. When you're choosing a biotin supplement, select a brand you trust. You'll be on your way to living with the hair you deserve.