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The Truth About Biotin For Hair Loss – Does This Supplement Help?

While biotin deficiency is rare, you may be surprised to learn that daily supplementation with biotin can support hair health and growth.

In this article, we’ll introduce biotin and the role in plays in the body. We’ll then discuss the implications it has for hair health. In addition, you’ll learn:

  1. The signs and causes of biotin deficiency;
  2. The scientific evidence surrounding biotin’s use in hair health;
  3. What the recommended doses are, and whether biotin or keratin supplements are best;
  4. The side effects you may experience as a result of supplementation, and whether it’s possible to take too much biotin; and
  5. A comparison of the different sources of biotin you can find on the market.

Finally, I’ll share with you some easy ways to naturally increase your biotin intake through diet.

What is Biotin?

Biotin (also known as vitamin B-7 or vitamin H), is a B-complex vitamin. It is important in the conversion of food into energy, which is required for the majority of the body’s metabolic processes.

The chemical formula of biotin

One such process includes hair growth, which requires the presence of keratin.

But how does biotin play a part?

Biotin and Hair Health

Keratin is a protein that is found abundantly in the hair, skin, and nails (1). Biotin aids in the catabolism of amino acids, which is a breaking down of the molecules in order for new proteins to be formed (2). One such protein that’s formed as a result? Keratin.

This means that biotin plays an indirect role in the health of the hair, skin, and nails.

And while there isn’t much direct evidence to support this, there’s one reason that scientists believe biotin plays a major role in hair health.

When an individual is diagnosed with biotin deficiency, they tend to have a common set of symptoms (3). One of these is noticeable thinning and recession of the hairline.

Is Biotin Deficiency Contributing to You Losing Hair?

If biotin aids in the production of amino acids, which themselves create keratin, it makes sense that a biotin deficiency can lead to hair breakage, thinning, and loss.

Although biotin deficiency is rare, because it can be found in many foods, there are a few signs that you should be aware of (3). Symptoms include:

  • Thinning of hair, often with noticeable loss of hair color
  • A red rash near the eyes, nose, or around the mouth
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Hallucinations
  • Paresthesia of the extremities (a tingling or prickly feeling caused by damage to peripheral nerves)

If a person has biotin deficiency, it is most likely congenital in nature (enzyme deficiency, malabsorption problem, or the person’s mother suffered long-term malnutrition during pregnancy) (3, 4). Other things that can lead to biotin depletion are:

  • Eating two or more raw egg whites daily for an extended period of time (5);
  • Excessive alcohol consumption (6);
  • Some anti-seizure medications;
  • Possibly (not definitely) diabetes;
  • Anorexia (due to simply not eating enough food); and
  • Long term use of antibiotics (3).

Again, a deficiency is rare, but if you exhibit one or more of the symptoms listed (especially thinning hair with loss of hair color), it might behoove you to put yourself on a biotin supplement.

It really can’t be stressed too much – if you are taking any supplement for hair issues, it may take a few months before you will see a significantly noticeable improvement in the appearance of your hair.

Being patient and diligent is key. Don’t skip taking the supplement several days a week, if you want to see results.

Is There Any Scientific Evidence That Biotin Promotes Hair Growth?

There isn’t much scientific evidence to support using biotin to regrow hair. This doesn’t mean that biotin isn’t useful in promoting hair growth; it just means no one has pursued any research to prove that it does.

One study that is available highlights the presence of biotin deficiency in women complaining of diffuse hair loss (7). It ultimately showed that the blood biotin levels in 38% of such women signified that they were deficient in the nutrient.

There are also a few clinical studies that support biotin supplementation in the treatment of thin and brittle nails (8, 9). This ties into the claim that biotin is good for hair, skin, and nails.

As a matter of fact, many supplements sold as treatments for improving the appearance of hair, skin, and nails contain high amounts of biotin.

So there is certainly observable evidence that biotin can make a difference for some individuals. The European Food Safety Authority has also given biotin a positive review (10).

What Are Recommended Doses?

Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin (11). There is no known level of toxicity for biotin, as the body will just eliminate any excess.

However, in order to achieve a noticeable change in hair growth, it’s best to try and keep a certain amount of it circulating in your body at all times.

Some people may be more sensitive to the effects of biotin, and may not need to supplement at higher dosages. For others, the higher the amount, the better in terms of seeing new hair growth.

The lowest Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 30 mcgs per day for men and women 19 and up (12). This increases to 35 mcgs per day for women who are breastfeeding.

But what if you want to grow your hair, or improve the quality of your skin and nails?

Then a higher dosage will be required.

It seems to be common for dosage recommendations of around 5000 mcgs daily, and some recommend as much as 10,000 mcgs daily.

If you are unsure, you can always start with a lower amount (some people start with 2500 mcgs daily).

What seems clear is that you can’t harm yourself with higher dosages of biotin, so starting with 5000 mcgs appears to be perfectly safe, and many biotin supplements come premeasured in that dosage.

Biotin vs Keratin Supplement: Which is Best?

Now that you better understand the connection between biotin and keratin, as well as how this relates back to hair health, you may be wondering which of the two is better to supplement with.

The truth is, each supplement works differently to support healthy hair production.

So, which should you choose?

If you had to pick, I’d recommend biotin.

Biotin performs many functions that support hair health. These include acting as mini-transporters to deliver oxygen cells to the follicles, and aiding in the production of amino acids. These are incredibly important to overall health, but also to the hair and scalp specifically.

Remember, keratin is a protein which is formed from amino acids. As such, biotin supports the production of keratin.

But are keratin supplements helpful?

The answer to this is a bit tricky.

Keratin is actually quite difficult to convert into supplement form, so many keratin supplements don’t offer much support to the hair, skin, and nails at all.

There are some ingredients that are better at doing so than others — such as Cynatine HNS — but their results also haven’t been proven.

Due to this, I highly recommend you seek out biotin supplements over keratin.

Are There Any Side Effects from Biotin?

There have not been any documented side effects from taking biotin supplements. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult their physician before taking a biotin supplement.

In rare cases, there are individuals who may have an allergic reaction to biotin supplements. Anyone who has a known allergy to cobalt or cobalamin should not take biotin.

The primary signs of an allergic reaction to biotin are tightness in the chest and throat accompanied by throat pain (anaphylaxis). This is an emergency situation which can lead to loss of consciousness and respiratory duress.

If you are diabetic, you should speak to your doctor before taking a biotin supplement, as high doses can affect your metabolism and thereby have an effect on your blood sugar levels.

Biotin is sometimes prescribed by allopathic physicians in the treatment of diabetes because it can increase insulin sensitivity and also increase levels of enzymes that are necessary for glucose metabolism.

Can Too Much Biotin Cause Hair Loss?

Biotin probably does not cause hair loss. It is common for dermatologists to recommend biotin to encourage hair growth and nail growth.

Having said that, when you first start taking biotin, you might experience some extra shedding because your hair will start growing at a faster rate, and the rate of hair fall might increase.

So biotin can alter your hair growth cycle. Generally, this early stage loss will stop after continuing to use biotin regularly.

Does biotin thicken existing hair follicles? There isn’t any scientific evidence that it does, but there are claims that it can. It is important to remember that what works for one person doesn’t always work for everyone.

If the cause of hair loss is related to a hormonal imbalance, or other underlying issues that need to be addressed, biotin supplementation may not lead to the hair restoration you’re seeking.

Comparisons of Different Sources of Biotin

The standard dosage that most companies that produce biotin supplements offer is 5,000 mcgs (5 mgs). That is considered an optimal dosage, and should produce results if taken as directed. Biotin can be purchased as capsules, tablets, or liquid.

Liquid supplements can get into the bloodstream more quickly, if they are taken sublingually. That is, put underneath the tongue for a minute or so and allowed to enter through the salivary glands.

This eliminates any possibility of the stomach acids destroying the potency of the product. However, in the case of biotin, stomach acids don’t seem to play a huge role in how effective the supplement will be.

The larger and more important thing to consider is the quality of the supplement, whether it be liquid, in capsule form, or tablet form. It pays to do a little research on the company that produces the biotin supplement before purchasing it.

If you want to check the rating of a company that produces supplements, in the U.S. you would look for their USP rating (which stands for U.S. Pharmacopoeia), or if you live outside the U.S., check their rating with the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices).

Also, if you want to check on the quality of a specific product before buying it, you can always call them or email them and ask what quality rating they’ve received and what organization does their quality testing.

If they can’t provide answers to those questions, you might consider moving on to another company’s products.

Please read my article about biotin shampoo here.

Ways to Get Biotin in Your Diet

You can get an ample amount of biotin through foods, though you will never be able to consume enough food on a daily basis to achieve the levels of biotin that are prescribed for restoring hair, nails and skin.

There is a fairly long list of foods that contain biotin. Some good examples are:

  1. Egg yolk
  2. Organ meats, like liver or kidney
  3. Nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc.)
  4. Nut butters
  5. Legumes (peanuts and soybeans)
  6. Whole grains
  7. Bananas
  8. Cauliflower
  9. Mushrooms
  10. Carrots
  11. Cold water fish (herring, sardines, tuna, salmon, trout, halibut)
  12. Spinach
  13. Chicken
  14. Yogurt
  15. Red meat
  16. Sunflower seeds
  17. Avocados

Note: It is known that any kind of processing of foods that contain biotin can destroy the bioavailability of the vitamin (13). This includes cooking.

So to get the optimal amount from food, it should be consumed with as little processing as possible. In some instances, the food listed here should be cooked, but if possible, consuming them raw is preferable.

My Biotin Super Smoothie

If you think you’re deficient in biotin you might do well to focus on boosting biotin rich foods in your diet. The best (and fastest) way to do this is with my biotin smoothie.

The advantage of this method over others is that the smoothie digests quickly and the vitamins in highly bioavailable because of the other ingredients.

This way your body gets the maximum vitamin intake into the blood.

Ingredients:

  • A tablespoon of live yogurt
  • Half a cup of spinach
  • 6 walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon of cashew nut butter
  • 1 table spoon of sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup of frozen berry medley
  • A small handful of extra cherries (for flavour)
  • 1 banana
  • Almond milk to correct consistency
  • 1 teaspoon of pumpkin seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon of hemp protein
  • A sprinkle of chia seeds

Ideally you will use a ‘bullet’ (high powered) smoothie maker otherwise the texture may be slightly grainy because of the nuts and seeds.

This is the ultimate way to boost your biotin levels as quickly as possible. If you set a target, say, once every two days for two weeks then you have a very good chance of getting your biotin levels to maximum hair growing potential.

Conclusion

We know that biotin is an essential B-complex vitamin that performs more than one function. It is essential for converting food into energy in our bodies, and can affect growth of hair, nails, skin, and it can even affect blood glucose levels (14).

But we also know that biotin is plentiful in a wide variety of foods, so biotin deficiency is rare, unless there are underlying genetic problems or malnutrition.

The key point in what we have learned is that biotin seems to support and increase metabolism, thereby leading to faster growth of hair that already exists, and it seems to cause new hair growth from follicles that might have been previously damaged.

One of the keys to reversing the problem lies in your overall health, so if you have a condition that is the direct cause of hair problems, or if you take a medication that can lead to hair fall, your physician might be able to offer you advice or alternatives.

32 thoughts on “The Truth About Biotin For Hair Loss – Does This Supplement Help?”

  1. I did not know that Biotin can help your hair grow. But I doubt that it can make a difference in bald men cases. Do you know even more expensive biotin supplements? Are there any known and unwanted side effects? Can we combine it with other vitamins and supplements or it is not recommended? Thank you!

  2. Male pattern baldness is a little more complicate and stubborn, unfortunately, because the cause is more often genetic than due to lifestyle (whereas for many women, it’s often the result of something hormonal/temporary, or a major stressor or illness). That said, biotin could strengthen the hair you have remaining, and it’s also great for skin and nails. It can be safely combined with other vitamins and supplements – there are no known adverse interactions.

    Biotin overdose isn’t a common thing because the body gets rid of it quickly; you’d have to be taking A LOT before this was a problem. Symptoms of extreme biotin overdose include rashes and insomnia. This manufacturer also sells a 5,000 mg dose option for those worried about that.

    Interestingly, I’ve read about high-biotin trials for patients with multiple sclerosis that had very positive preliminary results. They were taking *300,000 mcg* a day in a controlled study.

  3. I knew that biotin was good for hair and nails; but didn’t know it would spur regrowth. I have taken biotin in the past with little result; but maybe I didn’t have high enough mcg.

    I do use coconut oil for cooking and a teaspoon in my morning coffee. Gives me more energy.

    My hair is thinning and the ends break; so I probably should be taking something like this to help fortify it. Also. I like liver and onions. I probably should eat more of it.

    By the way; I really wanted the cat paws. Are you sure they aren’t included?

    Thanks for a great review.

    Jeannie

  4. Haha, hi Jeannine, thanks for the comment! And my cat is flattered 🙂

    Funny how there was wisdom to the liver and onions meal of old, eh? It’s looking more and more like these organ meats are true superfoods! What I like about this supplement is that I saw results, and clearly other people do too…my nails not breaking in particular was the most noticeable immediate change.

    take care and thanks again,

    Penelope

  5. Thank you for this informative article on this product, I am a big believer and user of several supplements and have experienced a difference in my life by using them.

    I do not have a need for this product, but I do like how you shared your own personal experience which gives me more trust in this product if it was something I needed to use to improve myself.

  6. Hi Penelope,
    Thanks for the info, This Biotin supplement looks excellent and 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon is very impressive indeed! I know this because I regularly review products on Amazon and it’s very rare to find something with such a high rating and so many customer reviews. I don’t mind taking supplements in tablet format, but is there a more natural way to do this by change of diet?
    Best, Craig

  7. Hi Craig, thanks so much for the comment and question! You can definitely get biotin from foods, but there are a couple of complicating variables. First, not everyone likes or often eats biotin-rich foods (liver and organ meat, for example), and for the biotin-rich foods people do eat, many are from conventional sources which have been shown to be less nutrient dense. Less nutrient dense, in short, means contains less of the vital stuff (like biotin) that we want to get from food. So, supplements like this are a good way to fill in biotin shortages from our food intake, both in the quality and kinds of food we eat. -Penelope

  8. I live in Bali and I’ve realized I started losing more hair propably because of the sun and heat. My sister adviced me to start taking biotin supplement, but I wasnt sure if it actually helps or I could fix the prolem just by eating healthy and protecting my hair from the sun. I also went vegan a year ago and realized I should start taking multi B vitamin supplement. If I get enough All of the different B vitamins, do I need to take a separate biotin supplement?

  9. As a former stylist and something I loved doing this would be my #1 suggestion over so many that are just topical. Our hair grows from the inside so it only makes sense to put something inside that will help. There are always more new topical grow hair products that just do not work. Think about this for just a moment. If hair dye and bleach cannot penetrate the scalp how could something topical grow your hair? It might strengthen it but I am highly doubtful on the new growth. Mind you I have to say I have heard of men using Rogaine and seeing some new results. I still prefer a more natural way so this gets a 9/10 from me. Great articles on the other products. Anything natural going on the hair is an improvement over harsh chemicals.

  10. thank you for the great comment, I appreciate your perspective as someone experienced with all kinds of hair! I agree with you – hair loss techniques that don’t address our needs from the inside just aren’t capable of solving the whole issue. as you said, our hair grows from the inside and that’s where we need to start.

  11. Thank for this review. This sounds like a great supplement. I used to take Nutricap for hair growth a couple of years ago when I severely damaged my hair by overprocessing it and I wasn’t sure if it really did anything. My hair still kept on breaking and falling. 3 years later my hair is in a way better state but I still get lots of splits ends and some breakage even though I only colour my roots these days. Do you think this supplement would be ok for me to take or is there another that you can recommend?

  12. i had heard a lot of buzz about biotin but i though it was a gimmick. I will have to rethink this. I have an autoimmune disease that makes it difficult to swallow capsules, does biotin come in any other form? If I was to bite them, is the taste strong? I was hoping . the coconut flavour would be the most prevalent taste.

  13. Wow, this seems like a really good dal at $20 for four months, or basically $5 per month. But I do have a question. I actually have VERY thick hair, but I don’t eat a lot of protein, so I am considering supplements. If I don’t need the hair growth part is this still a good supplement for me?

  14. That’s an excellent question, thanks for asking! Biotin is also terrific for skin and nail health, and I don’t know anything else about your situation, but I do know most of us women want stronger nails and clearer firmer skin. Biotin brings it!

  15. I’ve always heard biotin being good for hair. Another comprehensive unbiased and trustworthy review. I wish I knew this product many years ago. I would’ve definitely buy it for my dad. My dad is now bald. Do you think this product could help him ?

  16. Hi Hong, biotin could help him with his skin, nail, and existing hair health but if he’s been long bald, it will not bring his hair back from the dead. Only follicles that are weakened but not fully dead can be brought back. When you’re losing your hair, you have a short window of time to rescue it. Sad, but true!

  17. I have been telling people about biotin for years! But nobody listens. Now my friend is gonna freak out, because once I tell him about biotin and that it can reverse his thinning hair he will have no choice but to heed my words. =)

  18. What a nice article. You have shared a really nice collection of information about vit B, biotin and hair fall and everything related to this issue. I always like to read your articles regarding hair fall and share with other people as well…

  19. I have done a lot of research on Biotin but have looked for a reliable supplement. I tried Nature’s Bounty Hair, Skin, and Nail, and it didn’t seem to work, but I think my body didn’t absorb it. If coconut oil can help with absorption I would love to give it a try. I do know that taking certain supplements together can help with absorption some I am very optimistic about this product. Thanks for opening my eyes to a new product and proving a lot of details to help me make a purchase.

  20. Thanks for the comment, Melissa! Biotin is so crucial but we have to take it in a high quality form – most of the time, the grocery store brands like Nature’s Bounty just don’t cut the mustard. Try this out and let us know how it works for you!

  21. Hi Penelope
    I had never heard of biotin before so thank you for the clear and succinct explanation of it. I do like the fact that this product doesn’t just seem to improve hair loss but improves the condition of your nails as well. Will definitely be looking into this product further. Thanks again.

    Regards,
    Megan

  22. Hi Megan – thanks for the feedback! Yup, hair, skin, & nails all benefit from more absorbable biotin in the body. Supplementing is a good call because most of us simply don’t get enough in our food. 🙂

  23. Wow, I know biotin is good for hair regrowth, but it is really amazing to see this product with coconut oil goodness and gluten free, what else can we ask for, best thing about this product is, it is very very effective as we can see the ingredients plus it is cost effective and we can afford it very easily. Great share….thank you:)

  24. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this review! I agree, it’s better to take a high quality Biotin supplement like this, with the bonus of taking in coconut oil every day!

  25. Can you take this supplement and the Propidren together? You also advertise on this site Grogenix. Is that better than Propidren and Biotin by Sports Research. I am thinning horribly and need to start on something. I believe this is an inside job and shampoo alone will not cut it which leads to my last question. Which shampoo along with any of the above work well. I am on Purador not sure I like it. Is Grogenix the best or do you recommend Rogaine.

    Helplessly Confused,
    Skye

  26. Hello Skye, the truth is, no shampoo or topical product is really going to make that much of a difference to your hair. There are bigger things at play here, such as hormones and nutrition. With that said, the Grogenix range is the best in the world, so if you’re choosing between products, choose them.

  27. Thanks for the great comment. it’s possible that just turning vegan actually kickstarted the hair loss; this happens in 35% of women who become vegans. My strong recommendation is that you take a b vitamin supplement, the biotin supplement, and also a vegan source of silica, which is the building-block of collagen, which we need in abundance for healthy skin and hair and nails. It’s just hard to get enough of all of these things in a vegan diet. Also: go light on the soy (which interferes with thyroid function and can cause hair loss), and heavy on the beans and nuts for protein!!

  28. Thanks for the question – I think Biotin would be perfect for you since your goal now is to strengthen your hair. I would start with the 10,000mcg a day, and then see where you are in 6 weeks. If you’ve seen enough improvement, that’s the answer! If you are still having issues, there may be more at play (including hormonal causes), so your next step is a DHT blocker – click that link to see the one I recommend. thanks and good luck!

  29. That’s a great question. Biotin comes in liquid that you can ingest sublingually or with a drink. These pills are small – the small, football shaped ones – but if you have issues with swallowing I would suggest the liquid as an alternative.

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