In our culture nothing shouts: “I’m sexy and I’m proud!” like clear/healthy skin, hair and nails. Whether you’re a man or a woman we all want that perfect complexion and sleek hair 365 days a year. If one vitamin could be chosen to have the most positive effect on this aspect of our health it would most definitely have to be Biotin, or vitamin B7 (although it is sometimes called vitamin H).
Besides keeping your skin, hair and nails healthy, Biotin also contributes positively to your eyes, liver and nervous system. The word Biotin comes from the ancient Greek word “biotos,” which means “life” or “sustenance” (1). Biotin can be most effective for expecting mothers as it’s important for embryonic growth, but can be used by everyone that wants to reap its countless benefits.
How can Biotin supplementation help you?
Most people get the Biotin they need from eating a healthy diet, but there have been many claims that getting more Biotin can regulate your blood sugar, promote healthy hair, skin and nails, and help pregnant moms have healthier babies. How much Biotin is enough, where can you get it, and what can it really do for you (1)?
Although a Biotin deficiency is rare, if you are a: chronic smoker, alcoholic, pregnant woman, an individual living with Crohn’s disease, and or eat a highly processed diet it is often possible to have a deficiency. Symptoms reveal themselves through dry eyes, cracking on the sides of the mouth, scaly skin, depression and hair loss (2). Whether you have any of these symptoms/conditions or not, it is never a bad idea to supplement extra Biotin in your diet. Unlike fat soluble vitamins which you need to be careful about supplement with due to a possible overdose, Biotin and all other B vitamins are water soluble. Because it is water-soluble, extra Biotin will simply pass through your body when you urinate.
Side Effects of Biotion
While most people can handle Biotin supplements, some people report mild side effects like nausea and digestive issues. There are no known toxicity symptoms associated with too much Biotin (1). Many of the off-the-shelf Biotin supplements can range from 1 milligram to up to 10 milligrams per capsule. While it is recommended that you only need between 30 and 100 micrograms or 0.03 to 0.1 milligram. But as previously stated there are no dangerous side effects to supplementing extra Biotin so the “more the merrier” mindset is acceptable in this situation.
Though there’s minimal research to support the effects of Biotin on hair growth, there’s strong evidence to support a deficiency will cause hair loss (3). Similarly, the vitamin may also help thicken nail cuticles and prevents breakage. A number of hair care companies are now including Biotin directly in their products. Though Susan Fyshe, a registered nutritionist and dietitian, suggests taking Biotin orally for optimal results (2). A Biotin deficiency can lead to a variety of skin problems including rashes, acne, psoriasis, dermatitis and overall itchiness. “B vitamins play a key role in the function of the nervous system and do affect hormone function, which suggests why depleting Biotin levels can in turn play a significant role in skin health,” says Fyshe. If skin isn’t nourished from the inside out, toxicities will form throughout the nervous system and manifest itself on the skin’s surface. This is one of the biggest signs that suggest a deficiency in Biotin or any other B vitamin (2).
Take Home Message
Whether you have a deficiency or not, it is always a good idea to supplement extra nutrients into your diet. In the case of keeping your hair, skin and nails top notch, Biotin is one of the most important. Biotin can be found as a standalone supplement, in a B-complex, or occasionally in a high quality multivitamin. Although you should be utilizing the benefits of supplements, they should be doing only that, supplementing your already healthy diet. Many foods are naturally high in Biotin, including egg yolks, nuts, soybeans, whole grains, cauliflower, bananas, mushrooms, chicken, fish and many more. All of these foods are part of a healthy lifestyle along with a daily multivitamin and will keep you looking and feeling your best, 100% of the time! Thank you for taking the time to read this article and don’t forget what you’ve learned!
- Stevens, Cara J. “What Is Biotin?” com. Ed. Peggy Pletcher. N.p., 1 May 2015. Web. 24 June 2016.
- D’Amato, Patricia. “Biotin: 5 Healthy Benefits of This B Vitamin.” com. N.p., 6 Sept. 2014. Web. 24 June 2016.
- Khalidi, N., J. R. Wesley, J. G. Theone, W. M. Whitehouse, Jr., and W. L. Baker. Biotin Deficiency in a Patient with Short Bowel Syndrome during Home Parenteral Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. PubMed.gov, n.d. Web. 24 June 2016.