Biotin is most commonly used as a hair vitamin. Many claim that it’s responsible for longer and healthier hair, but dermatologists aren’t so sure…
What is Biotin?
“Biotin is one of the B complex vitamins (also known as vitamin H) which play a significant role in metabolism; helping your body to process energy and transporting carbon dioxide from your body’s cells,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Susan Stuart.
SEE ALSO: Hair and B-Complex Vitamins
It’s also known as the “beauty pill” that claims to increase hair and nail growth rate and strength. But these claims are untested and unsupported by hard evidence. Maybe these rumored results have some validity: “Biotin is most effective in treating biotin deficiency, which may result in brittle nails and hair loss,” explains Dr. Susan Stuart. It can easily reverse hair loss and strengthen hair in those that are biotin deficiency.
Outside of treating biotin deficiency, the fact is that dermatologists aren’t sure how it works for hair and nail growth. According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Adrianna Jackson, “There has been no randomized clinical trials proving efficacy of biotin. In fact, 80-90% of the hair loss patients I see are already taking it [with no results].” Additionally, there is no way to increase the hair’s growth cycle, this is a common misconception.
SEE ALSO: Treating Hair Loss (Alopecia)
Not only are medical professionals unsure of how biotin affects the human body, they’re also unsure of the maximum dosage. Biotin overdose is rare, but on the flip side, no one can really say what a biotin overdose would look like. Dr. Stuart suggests looking out for these possible signs of biotin overdose: slower release of insulin, skin rashes, lower vitamin C and B6 levels, and high blood sugar levels (most of the listed signs can only be diagnosis by physician testing of blood). Many users of biotin have reported cystic acne and hair loss (in some cases).
The daily recommended dosage of biotin is 2.5 mg, according to Dr. Richard Scher, and the adequate intake (AI) is 30 mcg for adults over 18. Many daily multivitamin offer the daily recommend dosage of biotin in addition to other vital vitamins and mineral that also support healthy hair and skin without the side effects. In this quantity it is safe, but as a precaution its always beneficial to consult a physician before starting any vitamin regimen.
Many biotin pills contain dosages that are 100x more than the recommended daily dosage. You can purchase biotin pills that are 5000 mcg or 1000 mcg.
In most cases, the average person doesn’t need that much, nor is it recommended. Because of these high dosages, it’s important to consult your doctor before taking biotin — or any supplement for that matter, with the exception of a daily multivitamin.
The drastic increase in biotin could be the blame of those adverse side effects such as cystic acne. The body is working to balance itself by removing the excessive amount of the hair vitamin in order to prevent hypervitaminosis (vitamin overdose). The body also begins to counteract the increase of biotin by increasing or decreasing other vitamins and minerals to achieve equilibrium.
Biotin should be reserved for those with a biotin imbalance. And any deficiency should be diagnosed by a physician. If you’re interested in taking biotin, many multivitamins offer the recommended daily dose, in addition to other B-complex vitamins and other supporting minerals that increase absorption into the body.
But a balanced diet is always the best way to grow hair from the inside out.