Biotin is one of the important B vitamins that is needed in order to maintain certain processes that are necessary for our health. As with many other vitamins, it is a part of the energy-producing chemical reactions and an important component of structural tissues in the body. Most importantly, it is a component of hair, nails, and skin.
What does the research say?
Two studies in 2012 and 2015 respectively both showed that participants who took biotin perceived an improvement in their hair growth. The researchers also used digital imaging and counted the number of hairs which were shed after washing to confirm the participants’ perceptions.
Biotin improves the structure of keratin – the protein that is most responsible for the structure of hair, skin, and nails. This research used biotin supplements twice a day for 90 days. That means that whether a person is taking supplements or eating more biotin-rich foods, they need to maintain a consistent daily intake for at least three months. It also means that interested people need to be patient as results will only show after a few months.
How much do I need to get every day?
The Food and Drug Administration has not set a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for biotin, because a severe deficiency of it is not common. However, experts have agreed on some guidelines:
- 0 to 3 years old: 10-20 micrograms
- 4 to 6 years old: 25 micrograms
- 7 to 10 years old: 30 micrograms
- Above 10 years old: 30-100 micrograms
Pregnant and breastfeeding woman should try to get slightly over 100 micrograms.
Dietary sources of biotin include:
- Soybeans and other legumes
- Organ meats, like liver or kidney
- Almonds, peanuts, and walnuts
- Egg yolk
- Whole grains
Cooking these foods can reduce the levels of biotin in them.
Another option is taking biotin supplements. It is important to read the labels of the supplements and only buy from trustworthy manufacturers. Make sure that the dosage is not too low or too high. Dosages that are too high can exacerbate adverse effects. These include nausea, cramping, and diarrhea, although side effects are rare. Some of the medical signs that have been associated with a biotin overdose include low vitamin B6, low vitamin C, high blood glucose and steadily reducing insulin levels.
A deficiency of biotin may cause hair loss and red, scaly skin.
Other benefits of biotin
More research is needed to discover the mechanisms of how biotin works in the body, but researchers do know that it helps specialized proteins perform their functions. Other processes that biotin has been implicated in are:
- Reduce inflammation
- Enhance cognitive functioning
- Help to lower blood glucose in people with diabetes
- Increase HDL (beneficial) cholesterol and decrease LDL (detrimental) cholesterol
There is reasonable anecdotal and scientific evidence to suggest that if your hair is thinning, taking biotin may help to improve hair growth, as well as its thickness and shine. You can get more biotin by eating more biotin-rich foods or taking supplements. Be sure to watch out for any adverse effects and to seek medical attention if they occur.