What Is Biotin? And How Does It Affect Hair

What Is Biotin? And How Does It Affect Hair -  WebNewsOrbit

Biotin is one of the most popular hair care supplements. Research shows that it may be effective, but not in all forms and only for some people. We talk about the strengths and weaknesses of biotin.

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The name of this vitamin comes from the ancient Greek word "biotos", which means "life". Biotin is very important for the health of many organs and systems of our body, but its deficiency is extremely rare.

Note: Article is checked and commented by Doctors:
1. Natalya Antonova - endocrinologist, nutritionist at SM-Clinic;
2. Anna Sambuk — dermatovenereologist, cosmetologist at the clinic of aesthetic medicine and cosmetology SOLA

What is biotin?

Biotin is a water-soluble organic substance also known as vitamin H (h/ash), coenzyme R, and vitamin B7. It belongs to the B vitamins. Biotin is synthesized by bacteria in the intestines, so its complete absence in the body is almost impossible .

The first evidence for the existence of biotin appeared in 1927. Raw eggs helped in this: the researchers noticed that adding this product to the diet in large quantities can lead to hair loss and worsen health.

It turned out that the whole thing is in avidin - a protein found in raw eggs: it binds to biotin and reduces its effectiveness. Eight years later, scientists were able to synthesize biotin, at first it was called vitamin H.

An adult should consume 30 micrograms of vitamin per day, a child - 5 micrograms, and a pregnant or lactating woman - 35 micrograms. This substance is found in many foods. In addition, it is synthesized by the intestinal microflora. Therefore, as the endocrinologist Natalya Antonova notes, today its deficiency is rare and most often caused by serious diseases.

What is biotin for?

Biotin has many functions in the body. They work at the molecular level and, to one degree or another, affect almost all tissues and organs, from hair and nails to blood vessels and the brain. The main processes in which biotin is involved include:

  • participation in the breakdown of proteins, fats and carbohydrates;
  • control of gene expression through changes in DNA transcription factors;
  • regulation of insulin secretion and stabilization of blood sugar levels.

Biotin deficiency

Biotin deficiency is rare. But sometimes it occurs even in healthy people. According to the endocrinologist, it can lead to:

  • alcohol abuse;
  • congenital hereditary metabolic disorders (deficiency of biotinidase, phenylketonuria, etc.);
  • cirrhosis of the liver;
  • diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (pancreatitis, ulcers, etc.);
  • dysbacteriosis due to treatment with antibiotics and sulfonamides.

Supplemental biotin may also be required by pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Biotin Deficiency Symptoms

  • red rashes on the skin, especially on the face;
  • dry or flaky skin;
  • dry eyes;
  • brittle hair;
  • hair loss;
  • fatigue;
  • insomnia or trouble sleeping;
  • loss of appetite;
  • nausea;
  • depression;
  • burning or tingling sensation in the hands and feet;
  • muscle pain;
  • frequent indigestion;
  • cracks in the corners of the mouth;
  • seizures;
  • difficulty walking.

In this case, as a rule, the hair and nails are the first to suffer. All these symptoms can be caused by many other diseases, and deficiency of nutrients. Much more often, this set of signs is associated with a lack of not biotin, but other vitamins, such as C or B6. Only a doctor can accurately diagnose.

“If you suspect a deficiency of biotin in the body, a laboratory study of its level in the blood is necessary,” notes Anna Sambuk. - Only in the case of a result of less than 100 ng / l, you can begin to correct the deficiency. But this is not the most accurate indicator, so it is better to focus on an increased level of excretion of the biotin metabolite in the urine (above 195 µmol/24 hours).”

Excess Biotin

Excess biotin is excreted in the urine, so its overdose is impossible. Studies show that even taking 5 mg of the substance per day (166 times the norm) for two years did not cause any side effects. And people with hereditary disorders of biotin metabolism take 2000 mg per day without any serious consequences.

Biotin Foods

Biotin Foods -  WebNewsOrbit

Biotin is found in many of the foods we are used to, from beer to raspberries. Most of it is in the liver and eggs.

It is not difficult for a healthy person to get biotin from food in the right amount. Most of all it is in the egg - about 15-25 mcg. At the same time, from the point of view of saturating the body with biotin, eggs are a specific product. In their raw form, they contain avidin, which only reduces the level of biotin. Therefore, it is better to eat them boiled, and also to refuse recipes that include raw eggs, such as mayonnaise or undercooked poached. Beef and chicken liver are not inferior to eggs in terms of biotin content: in one standard serving, there are also about 20–30 mcg.

Other foods contain much less biotin, but their variety is so great that any balanced diet will easily provide the necessary amount of this substance.

Foods Containing Biotin

  • legumes;
  • nuts and seeds;
  • sweet potato;
  • salmon;
  • pork;
  • raspberries;
  • whole grain products;
  • mushrooms;
  • bananas;
  • broccoli;
  • dairy products, including cheese;
  • yeast and products with them, such as bread and beer;
  • avocado.

Why take biotin?

Biotin is important for the health of hair, skin and nails, and if there is a deficiency in the body, then these organs are the first to suffer. “It improves the structure of the skin, heals the hair, strengthens the nail plate,” explains endocrinologist Natalya Antonova . However, it is not clear whether it is useful in increased dosages.

Scientists understood the effect of biotin on hair and nails as soon as they discovered it, which is why they first named it vitamin H - after the first letters of the German words "Haar" (hair) and "Haut" (skin).

Because of this, biotin is often added to nail and hair health products, ranging from dietary supplements in pill form to masks and shampoos.

Biotin is commonly touted as being helpful for problems such as:

  • brittle, split ends;
  • brittle nails;
  • alopecia (baldness).

Some studies point to the benefits of biotin in large amounts, but all of them do not fully meet the strict criteria of evidence-based science. 

There are some studies on the benefits of biotin in the treatment of brittle nails, but they can be considered only preliminary, as they were carried out on small samples and without placebo control.

Another experiment showed that biotin helps to slow down androgenetic alopecia, but it is not clear if patients were deficient in this substance.

Another placebo-controlled study showed a positive effect of supplementation with 120 mcg of biotin on the rate of hair growth in areas affected by baldness. But from the point of view of evidence-based science, it is unconvincing, since the dietary supplement also included other substances: vitamin C, iron, and a complex of natural substances.

In addition, Natalya Antonova notes, a number of studies (this time quite consistent with the rules of evidence-based science) show that biotin improves the course of diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, and its lack increases their risk.

Biotin for hair

Biotin for Hair -  WebNewsOrbit

Doctors recommend taking biotin only if there is a proven deficiency. It is better to prefer single-component oral supplements - external agents do not work. To find the right dosage, consult your doctor.

According to Anna Sambuk, biotin supports healthy and normal hair growth. “This is an important micronutrient in the normal cycle of the hair follicle,” explains the doctor.

It consists of three phases:

  • Anagen - hair growth, 
  • Catagen - its death
  • Telogen - a transitional phase

Loss of old hair and growth of a new one. Biotin controls the timely transition from one phase to another, prevents telogen lengthening and anagen shortening. In addition, biotin is important for the production of collagen, a substance critical for the elasticity and silkiness of hair and healthy nails.

According to the doctor, with a lack of biotin in a person, the phases of the follicle are shifted, which leads to excessive loss. The lack of amino acids, fats and carbohydrates, in the synthesis of which biotin is involved, leads to a deterioration in the condition of the follicle. The epidermis exfoliates more slowly, this reduces the immunity of the skin and can cause dermatitis. In addition, biotin is important for regulating the greasiness of the scalp, so its lack can provoke seborrhea.

As the dermatologist notes, you should not buy external products with biotin - they are completely pointless. “The biotin in the shampoo is nothing more than a marketing ploy,” Sambuk says . “The biotin molecule is several thousand times the size of the bonds between the cells of the stratum corneum of the skin and hair, which prevents it from penetrating inside and exerting its effect.”

How to take biotin?

Only supplements for oral administration will help, and the doctor recommends taking them only with a proven deficiency of biotin in the body. In this case, they will be an effective remedy for brittle nails syndrome, difficult-to-comb hair syndrome and diffuse hair loss.

“Food supplements should contain 300 to 3,000 mcg/day of biotin,” explains Anna Sambuk. - In severe deficiency and severe problems (thinness, brittleness, slow growth and loss), the dose can be increased to 5000 mcg. The drug should be taken with food. It is important to take a dietary supplement as a single component, as in complex formulations, its effectiveness may decrease.

Also, according to the specialist, it is important to pay attention to the composition of the supplement: “It is worth using biotin with glucose content with caution in patients with diabetes mellitus or impaired tolerance to it, it is better to opt for glucose-free formulations. Vegetarians should look for gelatin-free formulations, and patients with a history of gluten intolerance should look for a gluten-free supplement. In people with severe allergies, additives without preservatives should be preferred, which can provoke an allergic reaction.”

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