What is Biotin?

What is Biotin?

If you are an average human between the ages of 20 and 100, there is a high chance that you’ve googled something in the realm of “how to stop hair loss” or “how to grow thicker hair” or similar variations of these ideas. Because hair loss is an extremely common problem, with more than 80 million people in the U.S. alone complaining of thinning and balding, researchers have spent extensive time tracking down possible causes and treatments for this. (American Academy of Dermatology, 2018). Human hair has growth cycles of around 2-7 years, and this process begins to slow down for both males and females around the age of 30 (U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2019). Not only does hair begin to fall out, but it becomes finer, the strands slowly shrinking and greying. 

I know what you’re thinking: 30 years is FAR too young to begin losing hair! And this is where a specific nutrient might be of interest to you. It’s known by many names: Vitamin B7, Vitamin H, or Biotin, and the health benefits from it are numerous. What exactly is Biotin and how does it help us? The skin, nerves, digestive tract, metabolism and cellular functions of our bodies are all affected by Biotin, as it is necessary for the production of fatty acids and glucose in our bodies. (LiveScience, 2015).

Put simply, Biotin is part of the complex molecular and chemical system that enables our bodies to produce strong hair and nails – and it might be the key to keeping them that way throughout aging. It also seems that while Biotin is readily available in many foods in small amounts, it’s one of those nutrients that we don’t regularly eat enough of – leading to a chronic minor deficiency in many individuals. The normal recommended consumption levels per day are around 30mg, increasing slightly to 35 mg for breastfeeding women. Most foods contain only a few mcg per serving. (University of Michigan). There is no maximum intake, with daily intakes of over 200 mg producing no negative side effects is usually paired with a few other commonly neglected vitamins, such as zinc, Vitamin C, and folic acid (Cleaveland Health Clinic). Even when combined with other vitamins, biotin is the clear winner in terms of positive results with continued usage. 

Major biotin deficiency symptoms are severe and easily noticeable, but minor symptoms may well pass as common signs of aging while actually being curable side effects of a slight biotin deficiency (National Institutes of Health, 2019) Biotin has been proved to be a likely effective aid in treating or preventing biotin deficiency in alternative medicinal approaches, and the deficiency can be caused by a variety of circumstances – ranging from malnutrition to rapid weight loss. Iron deficiencies and certain genetic predispositions have also been proven to lower biotin levels, and individuals born before 1983 may not have been tested for this genetic variance that causes chronically lower biotin levels and increased hair loss (National Institute for Health). 

While there is no official FDA statement released to verify this yet, reported side effects from 3-6 months of continued biotin usage have confirmed improvements in brittle nails and thinning hair, and negative side effects are minimal to non-existent (University of Michigan, 2017). With the evidence being greatly favorable towards positive side effects from biotin consumption, and supplements strongly showing great promise for the improvement of hair loss symptoms by supplementing this key nutrient, I think we will soon see a great boost in the publicity of the vitamin to help lessen one of the most common side effects of aging.

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