Biotin, how does it help keep hair healthy?
Published: 15 February, 2022 - Updated: 27 October, 2022 | 5'
What is biotin or vitamin B7?
Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin, also known as vitamin B7, vitamin B8, vitamin H or coenzyme R.
What is biotin used for?
Biotin acts as an essential cofactor in the production of fatty acids, in the metabolism of the amino acids we consume, and in the production and storage of sugars (gluconeogenic pathway). This means that it helps to turn fats, carbohydrates and proteins into energy.
Biotin also plays an important role in the regulation of gene expression because it interacts with DNA-related processes.
Properties of biotin
Health claims approved by the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) include that biotin contributes to:
- Normal energy metabolism.
- Maintenance of normal hair condition.
- Maintenance of normal mucous membranes.
- Maintenance of normal skin conditions.
- Normal functioning of the nervous system.
Recommended amount of biotin
The daily intake of biotin recommended by EFSA depends on age and gender.
For adults over 18 years of age, the recommended daily intake of biotin is 40 µg/day. For pregnant and breastfeeding women aged 18 years and over, the amount would be 40 µg/day for women during pregnancy and 45 µg/day for women during breastfeeding.
In children under 18 years of age, the amounts also differ slightly according to age and sex. For children aged 4-10 years of both genders, the recommended daily amount of biotin is 25 µg/day. For children and adolescents aged 11 to 17 years, the amount is 35 µg/day.
Biotin for hair loss
Hair loss can have a major impact on the quality of life of a person. There are different kinds of hair loss, e.g. male pattern hair loss, female pattern hair loss, alopecia areata (disruption of the immune system in the hair follicle), anagen effluvium (massive hair loss in a short period of time) and telogen effluvium (disruption of the hair life cycle with significant hair loss over a specific period of time).
Nutrional measures have proven to be effective in the treatment of hair loss, i.e. a healthy, balanced diet containing an adequate daily intake of vitamins and minerals, especially trace elements.
Studies have shown that biotin plays an important role in the production of proteins, including keratin, the fibrous protein that is the main structural component of hair and nails, as well as being involved in the energy metabolism of the hair roots in the scalp.
Benefits of biotin for hair
As we have already mentioned, adequate levels of biotin are essential for both the regenerative process of the hair follicle and the formation of the proteins that make up the hair.
Its benefits are shown in a number of studies:
1. Increased volume
Biotin use in 90 healthy women increased hair volume by 13% after 12 weeks.3
2. Improved hair loss
In 130 people with telogen effluvium, the use of biotin for 3 months improved hair loss by more than 50%.6
3. Promotes strong, shiny hair
In a study in which 12 women took biotin for three months, it was shown that 92% increased hair volume, 82% improved hair firmness and 7% reported more shiny hair.7
How does biotin act on the skin?
Biotin is involved in the formation of the proteins that make up the structure of the skin, especially collagen, as well as in the regenerative process of the skin. These actions have a positive influence on skin firmness and skin replacement.
Firming and smoothing wrinkles and fine lines
The benefits of biotin on the skin include the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles, skin texture, hydration and skin tone.1,3,7
Biotin during pregnancy and lactation
Given the importance of biotin for energy metabolism, DNA-related processes and the functioning of the nervous system, sufficient biotin is especially important for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
During these periods, women should pay special attention to eating a balanced diet containing foods with high concentrations of biotin, in order to avoid a biotin deficit in the body. This balanced diet may be complemented with biotin supplements according to the advice of a doctor or specialist.
Foods containing biotin
Biotin is widely found in natural foods, although at lower levels compared to other water-soluble vitamins in foods.
Foods containing high concentrations of biotin include egg yolk, liver, kidneys, and some vegetables. Liver contains approximately 1 mg/kg of biotin, while fruits and most other meats contain approximately 0.01 mg/kg of biotin.
Biotin can also be found in avocados, bananas, nuts, beer yeast and cheddar cheese.
Food supplements containing biotin
There are supplements containing biotin that can help supplement your diet. Biotin is available in a wide range of formats, in capsules, powders, vials or syrups, in combination with vitamins, minerals and plant extracts.
Some biotin supplements have recommendations for use in pregnant women, as well as for maintaining connective tissues (such as skin and hair), energy metabolism and nervous system function.
Biotin and collagen
Biotin and collagen are widely used in nutricosmetics. Biotin contributes to the normal maintenance of hair and skin, and collagen is a natural protein similar to keratin that is part of the structure of hair and nails, providing firmness.
Biotin and zinc
The role of these two nutrients, biotin and zinc, is very important for hair maintenance. Both zinc and biotin help the metabolic activities of tissues whose cells multiply rapidly, such as hair.
Biotin contributes to the normal maintenance of hair, and zinc is involved in the metabolism of proteins and fatty acids which are essential elements in the structure of tissues, including hair. For these reasons, the assimilation of these two elements through a balanced diet is essential for hair health.
Biotin and Vitamin E
Inadequate oxidative reactions that can affect hair health are involved in hair loss, including the degradation not only of collagen but also of the fatty acids that make up the hair strands.
Vitamin E is known for its cellular protection against oxidative damage, so combined with biotin it can have a positive effect on hair root metabolism.
Biotin with hyaluronic acid
Hyaluronic acid is a natural component of the skin, whose hygroscopic properties make it useful for hydration, lubrication and elasticity. Its combination with biotin promotes normal skin maintenance, especially during ageing.
Biotin with iron
Both iron and biotin play an important role in energy metabolism and in the functioning of the nervous system, which is why their synergistic association in the diet in some conditions such as pregnancy, the growth of children and adolescents, among others, promotes general well-being.
Are there any contraindications to taking biotin?
Clinical data show that there are no contraindications to taking biotin.
Are there any side-effects of biotin?
Biotin has a good tolerance profile with no adverse effects, even in cases where biotin has been taken for up to 9 mg/day for four years, 10 mg/day for 15 days, 4 mg/day for three weeks or 2.5 mg/day for 6-15 months.
- Ali, A. et al. Anti-pollution cosmetic-based one-step formation of w/o/w multiple emulsion containing D-biotin for skin protection: fabrication and in vitro and in vivo evaluation. Drug Deliv Transl Res. 2019 Dec;9(6):1117-1132.
- El-Esawy, F. M. et al. Serum biotin and zinc in male androgenetic alopecia. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2019;1–4.
- Kalman, D. S. & S. J. Hewlings. A Randomized Double-Blind Evaluation of a Novel Biotin and Silicon Ingredient Complex on the Hair and Skin of Healthy Women. J Clin Exp Dermatol Res, Vol.12 Iss.1 No:551.
- Lagman, M. Safe Upper Levels for Vitamins and Minerals. Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals, 2003.
- Patel, D. P. et al. A Review of the Use of Biotin for Hair Loss. Skin Appendage Disord 2017;3:166–169.
- Sabry, H. H. et al. Evaluation of serum level of biotin and effect of biotin replacement therapy in patients with telegon effluvium. Benha Journal of Applied Sciences. Vol. (6) Issue (4) Part (1) (2021), (113-116).
- Sylla, S. et al. An Open-label Experience Trial to Evaluate the Effects of a Novel Supplement and Hair Serum Combination on Hair, Skin and Nails in Healthy Women. Current Developments in Nutrition 5(Supplement_2):374-374 (2021).
- Tolerable Upper Intake Levels for Vitamins and Minerals. European Food Safety Authority, 2006.