Yep, another ‘miracle cure’! If you’ve been dealing with hair loss for a while, you’re probably skeptical each time you hear of another miracle cure, and in this case, your skepticism could save you a lot of wasted hope, money and some horrible side effects.
There are no scientific studies to suggest that someone with hair loss not due to a biotin deficiency will see any improvement in their condition by consuming biotin supplements. It’s also worth remembering that you should NEVER start taking supplements on your own – see your doctor first and they will be able to advise you on anything you may be deficient in. After all, there’s no point in taking something that you don’t need!
What is Biotin?
Biotin is a B complex vitamin; you may also have seen it referred to as Vitamin H. Like all B group vitamins, biotin is water soluble, so your body doesn’t store it. This has led many to assume that we need to be constantly bombarding our bodies with biotin supplements, but this is simply not the case. Biotin can be made in the intestine and is also found in a number of commonly consumed foods such as egg yolk and bananas and biotin deficiencies are extremely rare.
How Much Biotin Do I Need?
Whilst it is true that biotin plays an important role in the health of your hair, most adults are getting enough biotin naturally and will therefore not benefit from taking a biotin supplement. In fact, many people have experienced some pretty nasty side effects due to the massive doses of biotin available on the market.
For example, a non-breastfeeding adult only requires 30 micrograms (mcg) daily (it’s 35mcg for those breastfeeding in case you were wondering) and the supplements we found on the shelves range from 300mcg to 10 000mcg with the most common dose being 5000mcg! And many of these companies suggest taking one tablet twice a day! That’s more than 300 times the daily requirement.
Many people we spoke to didn’t think there was anything wrong with taking a large amount of supplements, presumably because they are perceived as ‘healthy’, however, you can cause yourself a lot of problems by taking supplements without the supervision of your doctor.
How Can Biotin Supplements be Harmful?
Biotin interacts with the body’s ability to absorb both zinc and vitamin B5 (aka pantothenetic acid), which means that you are likely to give yourself a deficiency in one or both of these elements by taking excessive amounts of biotin. Guess what a potential side effect of a zinc deficiency is? HAIR LOSS! Guess what a potential side effect of a B5 deficiency is? HAIR LOSS! So you will actually risk worsening your hair loss by taking the massive amounts of biotin available on the market. Even if you are deficient in biotin, you don’t need to be taking 1000s of mcg.
Another common side effect of taking biotin is acne which occurs due to the lowering of your B5 levels. Some bloggers (yes, bloggers, not doctors!) have suggested that taking B5 in conjunction with biotin alleviated their acne, however, many have wished they just never tried biotin in the first place!
In summary, the bad news about biotin is that it is probably not going to cure your hair loss and may actually make your hair loss worse and harm you in other ways. If you suspect that you may be deficient in biotin, please see your doctor for a blood test. Your doctor will then be able to give you proper advice on getting the recommended 30mcg needed per day.