Biotin Benefits for Hair Growth, Stronger Nails and Beautiful Skin
Biotin acts as a coenzyme in the body that’s needed for the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids and glucose. This means that when we eat foods that are sources of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, biotin —also called vitamin B7 — must be present in order to convert and use these macronutrients. Our bodies then have the energy they need to carry out physical activities, for proper psychological functioning, and for growth.
Biotin benefits include helping to give us a young, attractive appearance since this vitamin plays a major part in maintaining the health of our hair, nails and skin. In fact, biotin sometimes gets the nickname the “H” vitamin, which stems from the German words Haar and Haut, which mean “hair and skin.”
Is biotin for hair growth a real possibility? Thinning hair is one symptom that is tied to biotin deficiency. Vitamin B7/biotin is commonly added to hair and skin beauty products, although it’s believed to not be absorbed very well through the skin. Some research suggests you get the most biotin benefits when it’s ingested from either food sources or supplements.
What’s the best way to obtain biotin from your diet? By eating biotin foods — things like organ meats, eggs, avocado, cauliflower, berries, fish, legumes and mushrooms.
What Is Biotin?
Biotin, or vitamin B7, is a water-soluble vitamin that’s a part of the vitamin B complex — a group of key nutrients needed for healthy metabolic, nerve, digestive and cardiovascular functions.
A vitamin B7/biotin deficiency is rare in nations where people generally consume enough calories and food in general. This is mainly because of three reasons:
- The recommended daily requirements are relatively low
- Many biotin foods are commonly eaten
- Researchers believe our intestinal digestive bacteria have the ability to create some biotin on their own
Biotin products have recently become a trend among consumers wishing to have longer, healthier hair and nails. If you’re looking to take a biotin supplement for this purpose or for other health improvements, you have several options, such as: biotin pills, biotin vitamins that include other B vitamins, skincare serums and lotions that contain biotin, and biotin shampoos. Supplements are available over-the-counter in tablet or capsule forms, and you can also find liquid biotin online or in your local vitamin shop.
Vitamin B7 can also be found as part of B-complex supplements, which include a full spectrum of B vitamins, including vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin B2 riboflavin and vitamin B3 niacin. Together, the B vitamin complex supports metabolism activity, brain functions, nerve signaling and many other important daily functions. They also work with one another, so taking B vitamins together is always the best way to ensure you’ll get the most results.
If you want to try biotin supplements, start with smaller doses and work your way up if you’re noticing positive changes. Keep in mind that not all types are created equal. To get the most biotin benefits, purchase a high-quality multivitamin or supplement product that is made from real food sources and doesn’t contain fillers or toxins in order to get the most benefits. These are made by joining together different collaborative nutrients so your body recognizes the vitamins and minerals and can use them in a synergistic way — similar to how they appear in food sources.
Will taking biotin for hair growth actually help?
Here’s the good news for people who choose to take biotin for hair growth and younger looking skin: There’s some evidence to suggest that biotin may be helpful, although research focused on biotin for hair health and skin renewal is limited and somewhat lacking. We do know that biotin helps to build proteins needed to maintain youthful hair and skin, including keratin.
At least several studies, including one published in Dermatology Research and Practice and another in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, have found evidence that taking supplements daily that include biotin for about 3 to 6 month can help to promote hair growth and reduce hair loss/shedding. One of these studies found that compared to control-treated subjects, those taking the biotin-containing supplements perceived improvements in overall hair volume, scalp coverage, and thickness of hair body after 90 days, and hair shine, skin moisture retention, and skin smoothness after 180 days.
A 2017 review focused on the effectiveness of biotin for hair growth states that “we found 18 reported cases of biotin use for hair and nail changes. In all cases, patients receiving biotin supplementation had an underlying pathology for poor hair or nail growth. All cases showed evidence of clinical improvement after receiving biotin.” That being said, according to the conclusion of the review, biotin supplementation may only really be effective if someone is deficient (which is rare).
The authors of the review note that “In cases of acquired and inherited causes of biotin deficiency as well as pathologies, such as brittle nail syndrome or uncombable hair, biotin supplementation may be of benefit. However, we propose these cases are uncommon and that there is lack of sufficient evidence for supplementation in healthy individuals.”
- Supports a Healthy Metabolism
Biotin regulates gene expressions that are critical for carrying out functions of the metabolism. Vitamin B7, along with other B vitamins, is needed to convert the food you eat into useable energy that supports a healthy metabolism. Vitamin B7 does this in several ways:
- It converts glucose from carbohydrates and sugar sources into useable “fuel” that is the body’s preferred source of energy.
- It helps the body use amino acids from proteins to carry out multiple body functions.
- It activates fatty acids from fat-containing foods like oils or animal fats.
Without enough vitamin B7 present in the body, symptoms of a sluggish metabolism may appear like low energy levels, fatigue, weight gain, digestive problems, possible development of diabetes, changes in appetite, poor moods and more.
Only once the body can use macronutrients from food for energy will normal, healthy metabolic activity take place. Vitamin B7 also improves the metabolism and utilization of glucose, offering some protection against insulin resistance/type 2 diabetes.
- May Improve Glucose Intolerance and Help Balance Blood Sugar
Vitamin B7/ biotin, especially when combined with chromium, has been shown to help lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. This is especially true for those who have blood glucose (sugar) levels that are not controlled well by prescription medicines.
Biotin benefits blood glucose levels because it facilitates the activity of insulin, which is the crucial hormone needed to bring blood sugar back to a balanced state. Better insulin response helps to reduce the risk of widely fluctuating blood sugar levels, which can lead to prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, weight gain and forms of metabolic syndrome.
Biotin decreases the expression of enzymes that stimulate glucose production by the liver, therefore less sugar is released into the bloodstream. For this reason, vitamin B7 deficiency has been linked to impaired glucose tolerance and decreased utilization of glucose, which are risk factors for diabetes. Vitamin B7 can also help reduce symptoms of existing cases of diabetes, including nerve pain.