By Jacqueline Samaroo
Have you been hearing a lot about biotin for hair growth lately? Seems like it’s getting top billing all over the place – from biotin supplements to biotin shampoos and everything in-between! It’s enough to make you think this B vitamin is the “holy grail” of haircare ingredients. But, is it really?
Well, there are plenty of good reasons for biotin gaining so much attention! It’s one of the micronutrients needed for the growth of strong, healthy hair. Keep reading!
We’ll take a look at how biotin affects hair growth, how much biotin you should be getting, and give you a heads-up on some foods rich in biotin for hair growth.
TLDR? Here’s a quick look at the eight biotin facts we’ll be exploring in this post:
- Biotin contributes to keratin production.
- Biotin boosts hair follicle growth.
- Our bodies do not store biotin.
- The RDA for biotin is 30 mcg.
- Biotin is found in a wide variety of foods.
- Our gut bacteria make biotin, too!
- Biotin deficiency is very rare.
- Larger doses of biotin are available in supplements.
- Many hair care products are formulated with biotin.
What Is Biotin?
Biotin is another name for vitamin B7. It is one of eight B vitamins needed for several different processes in our bodies. Biotin is also known as vitamin H. It is a water-soluble vitamin that is easily absorbed by our bodies.
For a look at some other vitamins needed for hair growth, check out:
Biotin for Hair Growth
There are many anecdotal accounts of the benefits of biotin for hair growth. Unfortunately, there is limited scientific research on the topic. What is encouraging, however, is that the studies that have been conducted around the benefits of biotin, and specifically the benefits of biotin for hair, show very promising results.
1. Biotin contributes to keratin production.
We need biotin in order to make keratin protein from the proteins in our food. Hair is mostly made up of keratin. It forms the structure of hair, skin, and nails. It strengthens them and in the case of hair, is important for reducing the chance of breakage and premature shedding.
What’s pretty amazing is that many protein sources (both from plants and animals) also contain biotin.
Find more info about keratin, protein, and the protein-moisture balance, here: Natural Hair Care: Protein and Hair – 7 Questions Answered.
2. Biotin boosts hair follicle growth.
Hair follicles are located in the dermis – the layer of skin below the surface. The follicle is where the only living hair cells are found. (The part of the hair we see growing out of our skin is actually made up of dead cells that have been keratinized and hardened.)
Biotin is shown to contribute to the healthy growth and functioning of the hair follicle – thanks, again, to its role in keratin production.
The hair follicle is important in the phases of hair growth, the rate of hair growth, and the likelihood of premature hair loss.
3. Our bodies do not store biotin.
Because biotin is a water-soluble vitamin, it is readily excreted (passed out) in urine. Your body does not store excess biotin the way it stores fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A and vitamin E. This is why daily intake of biotin is important.
4. The RDA for biotin is 30 mcg.
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of biotin for adults 19 years and older is 30 mcg (micrograms). This increases to 35 mcg for breastfeeding women.
For comparison, 100 g (or about 3.5 ounces) of roasted peanuts give you roughly 17.5 mcg of biotin.
5. Biotin is found in a wide variety of foods.
There are plenty of yummy foods with biotin. You can get the recommended 30 mcg per day from a balanced diet.
Here are some of the richest sources of biotin.
Examples of animal foods rich in biotin for hair growth
- Chicken liver
- Beef liver
- Salmon, tuna
- Pork chop
- Turkey breast
Examples of plant foods rich in biotin for hair growth
- Sunflower seeds
- Sweet potatoes
- Wheat germ
- Whole grains
- Ripe bananas
6. Our gut bacteria make biotin, too!
Apart from the biotin we get from foods, we also produce biotin of our own. This happens in the large intestine courtesy of the gut flora (aka bacteria) found there. The amount of biotin produced by these intestinal helpers is said to be about the same as what we get from foods. Cool!
7. Biotin deficiency is very rare.
Biotin deficiency a condition that is hardly ever seen. The 30 mcg RDA of biotin and the fact that it is present in so many foods mean it’s pretty safe to say you are getting all the biotin your body needs.
So, who does biotin deficiency affect?
- If you eat plenty of raw egg whites, then you could become biotin deficient. Raw egg whites contain a substance that blocks biotin absorption.
- It is also possible for someone to have a genetic disorder that makes them biotin deficient.
- Conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, cirrhosis, and excess alcohol consumption might make you biotin deficient.
Signs of biotin deficiency include a skin rash, brittle nails, and hair loss. This may be a contributing factor to the popularity of biotin supplements and hair care products with biotin.
The use of biotin for hair loss has been researched. The results of those studies, though not conclusive, show plenty of promise.
8. Larger doses of biotin are available in supplements.
If you do a quick online search for “biotin supplements,” you will see that they are very readily available. You can get biotin on its own or in combination with other nutrients. It also comes as capsules, tablets, and chewy gummies – whichever you prefer.
You will also see that the amount of biotin offered by many supplements is well above the RDA of 30 mcg. In fact, supplements with doses of 10,000 mcg are not uncommon.
There is a general assumption that higher doses of biotin offer protection against hair loss and may even assist with re-growing hair. However, there is a shortage of scientific evidence supporting the benefits of biotin for hair regrowth.
While an overdose of biotin is unlikely (since we pass it out in pee), keep the following points in mind if you do decide to take a biotin supplement:
- Check the decision with your doctor, first. Your thinning hair or other hair issues may have some other underlying cause than a biotin deficiency.
- Biotin can cause false results on lab tests.
- Biotin can interfere with some types of medication. Conversely, certain types of medication may interfere with biotin absorption.
- A balanced diet of whole foods is the best way to get your biotin for hair growth.
9. Many hair care products are formulated with biotin.
There isn’t much scientific research into the effectiveness of hair care products that contain biotin. Many persons who use these products do, however, swear by them. So, what should you do if you’re thinking of buying that shampoo with biotin or that biotin-enriched hair mask, hair oil, conditioner, serum, etc.?
Check out the other ingredients it contains. If they are good for your hair, too, then giving the product a try may be well worth it!
How do you get your biotin? Do you use biotin hair care products? Tell us!