Biotin, also called Biotina, Biotine, Biotine-D, Coenzyme R, D-Biotin, Vitamin B7, Vitamin H, Vitamine B7, Vitamine H, W Factor, Cis-hexahydro-2-oxo-1H-thieno[3,4-d]-imidazole-4-valeric Acid, is a vitamin most often marketed as being added to various products such as shampoo that claim to help the body in hair growth, fight against hair loss and other health benefits. All these marketing about biotin, however, still raises the question “Can we reliably use biotin for hair growth?”. In this article, we will look at the various benefits of biotin and whether or not it actually helps hair grow.
What is Biotin and How Does it Help Hair Growth?
Biotin is essentially a member of the vitamin B family and is water soluble. Our bodies need biotin to convert nutrients into energy and to maintain hair, skin and nail health. Biotin deficiency is rare but some people are trying to increase their intake of biotin to take advantage of its supposed health benefits.
In terms of hair growth though, there is little to no evidence that it does promote hair growth. It can, however, ensure that individuals maintain healthy hair, nails, skin and scalp and consequently prevent hair loss. A deficiency in biotin can lead to scaly skin and scalp which may lead to eventual hair loss. This may be because of the keratin content of Biotin, a basic protein that make up the structures of the hair, skin, and nails. So while Biotin may not promote hair growth, it can actually contribute to hair health and maintenance.
What is the Recommended Intake of Biotin and How Do I Get It?
The recommended daily intake of Biotin varies depending on the age of an individual. For infants to three (3) years old, it is recommended to take at least 10 to 20 micrograms (mcg) of biotin per day. For children four (4) to six (6) years of age, it is recommended to take at least 25 mcg of biotin daily. For children aged seven (7) to ten (10) years of age, it is recommended to take at least 30 mcg of biotin per day. For individuals ten (10) years and above, it is recommended to take at least 30 to 100 mcg of biotin per day. Pregnant women may need higher levels of biotin and should seek the advice of a medical professional for this.
As stated earlier, biotin deficiencies are rare but if they do happen, they can have some adverse effects on a person’s well being such as hair loss and scaly skin and scalp. To ensure that there is enough biotin intake for the body, it is recommended that individuals take biotin rich food items that are readily available in the market. These foods include organ meats, egg yolk, nuts like almonds, peanuts and walnuts, soybeans and legumes, whole grains, bananas, cauliflower, and mushrooms. It is best to go to dishes that are raw or at least processed minimally as heat can often lessen the efficacy of biotin.
Other Health Benefits of Biotin
Biotin may only really help prevent hair loss rather than improve or enhance hair growth but it can offer a wealth of other health benefits for its prospective users. Listed below are some of these benefits:
Biotin is needed for the metabolism of energy
Biotin is a vitamin that assists the body in the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates to produce energy. Biotin deficiency can lead to a slower metabolism, weight gain, and fatigue.
Biotin can lower the risk of Heart disease
Due to its role as a metabolizing component of fats and carbohydrates, biotin can help the body maintain and ensure cardiovascular and heart health and blood vessel wellness. Combining it with chromium can help biotin in lowering the levels of Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and increasing the levels of High-Density Lipoprotein which means increased levels of good fats versus lower levels of unhealthy fats.
Biotin can be beneficial for patients with type 2 diabetes
Biotin can help patients suffering from type 2 diabetes better manage their condition by increasing the production of insulin, increasing the levels of glucose absorbed by muscle cells and stimulating glucokinase, a liver enzyme that enhances the synthesis of glycogen.
Biotin can help enhance Brain Function and prevent cognitive decline
Biotin is an essential vitamin in the formation of fatty substances called myelin. Myelin is responsible for nerve impulse conduction and biotin deficiency can seriously impair the formation of myelin thereby decreasing the capability of the nerve properly conduct impulses. Biotin has also been shown to improve and alleviate the symptoms of progressive multiple sclerosis.
Biotin boosts the immune system
Biotin deficiency can lead to a decreased immune system response and an increased chance of bodily infection as Biotin has been shown to promote the production of cytokines, a substance that initiates the body’s immune response versus bacterial and viral infections.
Biotin can help lessen inflammation and allergic reactions
Biotin deficiency can lead to the production of proinflammatory cytokines and further aggravate the inflammatory response of the body.
Biotin can decrease the chances of birth defects
Biotin deficiency during pregnancy may result in birth defects due to a change in fat metabolism leading to fetal deformities. An increased intake of biotin may decrease the chances of birth defects as it addresses the changes in the fat metabolism and biotin requirements of the developing fetus.
Biotin can help prevent cancer
Low levels of biotin may lead to abnormal cell production, the main precursor to developing certain types of cancers. A steady and healthy dose of biotin can prevent abnormal cell production and help the body in promoting cellular and DNA repair and stability.
All in all, biotin is indeed essential to prevent hair loss and to ensure the maintenance of healthy hair and scalp. However, biotin also has other health benefits that go beyond what it is usually marketed as which is as a shampoo and conditioner additive. Biotin can certainly contribute to the overall health and wellbeing of individuals.