Sometimes referred to by the nickname “Vitamin H” thanks to its benefits for skin and hair, the naturally-occurring vitamin B7, or biotin, has taken the beauty world by storm. Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for the body to metabolize fatty acids, amino acids and glucose. Essentially, it’s needed for your body to have the energy to work, live and play. But that’s not all it does!
Besides its vital role in energy production, biotin has also been found to improve the conditions of people’s skin, hair and nails. People who suffer from hair loss have been taking biotin supplements for years to help improve hair growth and thickness. This all-natural ingredient can also be found in many food sources including organic meats, avocado and egg yolks.
What is biotin?
As mentioned, biotin is a B-vitamin that is crucial in macronutrient metabolism and helps provide your body with energy. Biotin also has a number of health benefits and is loosely linked to improving conditions of the heart and nervous system.
Of the eight forms of biotin, only one is naturally-occurring—D-biotin. This form of biotin can be found in many organic foods such as:
- Liver and other organ meats
Most people are able to gain the necessary daily amount of biotin through eating a balanced diet every day. People with allergies to some biotin-rich foods or who aren’t able to eat a balanced diet may consider taking supplements.
How much biotin should you take?
The recommended intake is relatively low—only approximately 30 micrograms a day for adult men and women. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may need to ingest a higher amount of biotin-rich foods daily and are more susceptible to biotin deficiency.
It is nearly impossible to overdose on biotin. Being water-soluble, the vitamin is not stored by the body, but instead absorbed as needed, with the excess being flushed out. Daily intake is necessary because the body does not store the vitamin for later use. Taking biotin in extreme excess of the daily recommended amount will not typically hurt you and is only recommended if you’re biotin deficient.
Biotin’s links to hair, skin and nails
Biotin deficiency occurs when the body is not receiving the necessary amount of biotin each day. This condition is rare, however, because biotin is found in so many common foods. A biotin deficiency may result in the person feeling fatigued and can manifest into other types of symptoms, including depression and tingling in the arms and legs.
Additionally, people who do not get enough biotin may suffer from a red, scaly rash around their eyes, nose and mouth, as well as brittle, thinning and dry hair or even hair loss. These symptoms signal just how important biotin is in maintaining the health of your hair, skin and nails.
Biotin for combatting hair loss
Because of the link to biotin deficiency and hair loss, many people believe eating a biotin-rich diet or taking biotin supplements can help improve the quality of your hair. Additionally, people with a known biotin deficiency who have experienced hair loss have benefited from a more biotin-heavy diet or supplementing. Biotin has helped these people slow or reverse the effects of hair loss.
If you suffer from hair loss due to a biotin deficiency, taking biotin supplements may improve the amount and quality of your hair. Biotin is often added to skin and hair care products for these reasons, but is much more effective when ingested, whether through food or through a supplement.
The other benefits of biotin
In addition to helping people combat hair loss, biotin has also been known to provide other health benefits. One such way is by potentially lowering blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes by increasing insulin production.
Biotin also may help lower the risk of heart disease. In combination with chromium, the vitamin has had positive results in improving cholesterol levels, which is necessary for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system.
Additionally, biotin has been linked to improvements in brain function. Biotin is necessary for myelin sheath formation, which protects nerves. The autoimmune disorder Multiple sclerosis (MS) is characterized by myelin damage and may be limited or reversed by high doses of biotin.
Given its health benefits and its role in combatting hair loss, this all-natural ingredient should make an appearance in your meals. If you suffer from hair loss caused by biotin deficiency, consider adding biotin-rich foods or supplements to your daily routine to reap its many benefits!