It seems we’re always hearing about biotin, the ‘wonder vitamin’ which promises to prevent thinning hair and provide us with thicker, fuller locks. But what is biotin, and why is it important for hair health?
What is biotin?
Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin (sometimes known as Vitamin H), which is known for its role in promoting healthy skin, hair and nails. It has an important role to play in the health of your hair, by stimulating growth, protecting from dryness and increasing elasticity (and thereby helping to prevent breakage).
Our bodies usually produce enough biotin and can recycle biotin we have already used, so actual biotin deficiency is very rare. The good news is that for those who are biotin deficient, the vitamin is naturally present in many foods, such as wholegrain cereals and wholewheat bread, dairy products, eggs, chicken, salmon, nuts and Swiss chard.
Biotin supplements and getting the right dose
Because biotin deficiency is quite rare, there is usually no medical need to take high strength biotin supplements. However, dietary supplements such as Hair Vitalics may be recommended as part of a comprehensive hair loss treatment plan in order to ensure you are getting the necessary nutrients needed for healthy hair so that any regrowth is in the best possible condition, given biotin is one of only three nutrients established to contribute to the maintenance of normal, healthy hair growth.
When it comes to biotin, men and women aged 19 and over have a recommended intake of around 40mcg and 30mcg per day, respectively – this amount can usually be consumed within the average person’s daily diet. However, this recommendation varies from country to country and studies have shown that higher doses of biotin – 10–50 mg/day, or up to 200 mg/day oral biotin or 20 mg/day intravenously in patients with biotinidase deficiency – can be tolerated.
Biotin overdose is rare but could lead to the development of skin rashes, slower insulin release, high blood sugar levels and various negative interactions with anticoagulant medications.
Can biotin help hair growth?
Whilst biotin deficiency can lead to hair loss and thinning hair, there are more likely to be other reasons behind your hair loss condition, such as stress, iron-deficiency anaemia or even a thyroid disorder.
There have been suggestions that taking biotin supplements could reduce hair loss, however this has not been proven. A study carried out in 1999 showed that taking biotin supplements together with zinc and the application of synthetic steroid hormone cream could help reduce hair loss in children experiencing Alopecia Areata. However, the effect of the biotin in isolation has not been established.
What about biotin shampoos and treatments?
In recent years, a wave of biotin shampoos and hair treatment products have flooded the market, promising us thicker, fuller hair that’s stronger. These shampoos and hair treatments aren’t actually backed by scientific evidence and usually only contain trace amounts of the vitamin.
So whilst they may not do any harm to your hair, and could boost its volume (depending on the other ingredients), there is nothing to suggest that they will prevent hair loss – particularly where genetic baldness is concerned.
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.