Biotin is a trace vitamin commonly found in a range of foods and supplements. It is an important component of bodily enzymes that break down fats, carbohydrates and other substances as part of the digestive process, and also aids the removal of carbon dioxide from cells throughout your body.
There is some evidence to suggest that Biotin deficiency can lead to hair loss and sometimes discoloration of the hair shaft. This has led to a multitude of products containing the vitamin, that promise to reduce the rate at which you lose your hair.
What’s the problem?
Biotin is capable of modifying the hair growth cycle in some people, although it is unclear why this effect is not triggered in everyone who uses it as a remedy. When such a reaction is triggered, it usually causes more hair to grow but also more to be lost simultaneously. This means that in almost every case, nothing is actually lost or gained, although in many people the overall result is that they have less hair as a result of using Biotin.
Wait a minute, that’s not what it says on the label!
Are you really surprised? Finasteride has been marketed as a solution for hair loss for many years, whilst severe and lasting side effects like impotence and erectile dysfunction are buried deep in the small print.
The hair loss industry is worth billions of dollars every year. Just because a product claims to do something, doesn’t mean that it can actually deliver on those claims, regardless of whether or not that product is approved by the FDA.
Is there any reason to use Biotin?
Dr Richard Scher, a widely reputed dermatologist, argues that it isn’t totally clear what role Biotin plays. However, he believes taking the vitamin does improve the keratin infrastructure, a basic protein that makes up hair, skin and nails.
As a general guide, forgetting about use of Biotin as a hair loss remedy for now, the recommended daily dosage as part of a healthy diet is 2.5 mg. Unfortunately there are no guidelines (or even advice) about how much is needed to affect the hair growth cycle. Furthermore it is possible to overdose on Biotin which can result in slower release of insulin, skin rashes, lower vitamin C and B6 levels and high blood sugar levels. The vitamin is directly linked to diabetes too, so without any clear benefit to taking it, we’d suggest that taking this supplement in any quantity would be unwise and potentially unsafe.