What is Biotin?

Do you take biotin for hair growth? What about vitamin B7, coenzyme R or vitamin H?

These are just different names for a very common vitamin that many naturals take for hair growth called biotin. The real question is does taking biotin for hair growth really work?

Let’s dive a little deeper.

What is Biotin?

There are many names for biotin, including coenzyme R, vitamin B7 and vitamin H.

In simple terms,vitamin B7 is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin that is often found in foods. Biotin is required by the human body for cell growth, producing fatty acids and it’s also essential for the metabolism of amino acids and fats.

Sources: Food High in Vitamin B7

Vitamin B7 is available in a wide variety of foods. Foods that contain biotin include, but isn’t limited to, peanuts, leafy green vegetables such as swiss chard, liver, Saskatoon berries and raw egg yolk. It is also available in supplement form, which can be found in the majority of pharmacies and many online retailers.

Using Biotin for Hair Growth: The Reason People Take It

Over the years, biotin supplements have been used to treat numerous conditions, but most naturals who take it have one common goal. There is a common belief that taking a biotin supplement will improve your ability to grow long hair.

Using vitamins for hair growth is common is the natural hair community. Biotin supplements are frequently recommended for faster hair growth (i.e., increasing the overall hair growth rate) and for strengthening nails – even though there’s not much scientific data to support its effectiveness.

According to clinical references, researchers haven’t come to an agreement on the benefits of taking additional biotin as an oral supplement. There is anecdotal evidence that suggests biotin may have additional benefits. However, I have not found any supporting scientific evidence that verifies the perception that biotin improves hair growth potential. Nevertheless, biotin is commonly found in a variety of health and cosmetic products for skin and hair.

Did you know that deficiencies are very rare?

Biotin deficiency is extremely rare, particularly due to the fact that it’s available in a wide range of foods and that the human body needs very little biotin. The average person doesn’t need a biotin supplement.

You receive vitamin B7 naturally in everyday foods like whole-grain cereals, whole wheat bread, eggs, dairy products, salmon and chicken. Note that this isn’t a complete list of foods that provide vitamin B7.

Although, it’s important to note that since our bodies can recycle vitamin B7 that the body already contains, genuine deficiencies of vitamin B7 are very rare. If you believe you have a deficiency, we always recommend working with an appropriately licensed medical professional to create a personalize plan of treatment.

Vitamin B7 supports a healthy central nervous system, sugar and fat metabolization and fetus development. It’s also thought by many people to support healthy skin and hair.

Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology

According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, people who have biotin deficiencies can increase hair growth back to the normal rate by consuming low biotin doses.

Regardless of the cause of the deficiency, it can usually be directly addressed by nutritional supplementation.

Examples of deficiency symptoms are:

  • Conjunctivitis

  • Hair loss ( alopecia)

  • Thin and brittle fingernails

  • Neurological symptoms such as lethargy, depression, tingling and numbness on the extremities, and hallucination

  • Dermatitis (usually a scaly red rash around nose, mouth, eyes, and genital area)

According to the European Journal of Paediatric Neurology, children who take certain anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) may suffer hair loss as a secondary effect. This hair loss might be treated with biotin supplementation. The medication may cause biotin deficiency, and supplementation improves hair back to normal levels.

How Much Vitamin B7 Should You Take?

The Food and Nutrition Board (i.e., The Institute of Medicine) provided updated Estimated Average Requirements (EARs) and Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for B vitamins in 1998.

At the time, they did not have enough information to establish RDAs and EARs for Vitamin B7. In such instances, the board often established Adequate Intakes (AIs), with the expectation that they will be replaced by RDAs and EARS at a later date.

The Institute of Medicine has set parameters defining an adequate intake of biotin. If you eat a healthy hair diet, you should receive an adequate amount of biotin naturally without requiring supplements.

If you decide to take biotin, the “appropriate” dose needed depends on many factors and should really be prescribed by a medical doctor.

Should You Worry About Toxicity with Vitamin B7?

Certain animal studies have indicated very few, if any, side effects of consuming high doses of vitamin B7. These studies suggests that both humans and animals can tolerate doses at least one order of magnitude higher than the adequate intake recommended by the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board.

Thus far we haven’t been able to find any reports of significant adverse effects from high doses of vitamin B7. Outside of acne, even when vitamin B7 is used in high quantities, such as in the treatment of metabolic disorders that causes seborrheic dermatitis in children the side effects appear to be tolerable by most women.

Excess biotin accumulation may inhibit endogenous sirtuin activity, which leads to increased inflammation as well as collagen deposition and cellularity, and could be associated with age related metabolic problems.

I’ve seen many women discuss taking very high levels of biotin. These high intake levels may prove to be safe eventually; however, researchers haven’t been able to determine if consuming high dosages of biotin over an extended period of time will pose health risks.

I encourage you to focus on your eating habits, since you can get plenty of biotin by eating a healthy diet. Although, if you decide to use supplements it appears (based on what we currently know) that there really isn’t a significant risk to trying the supplements – meaning there may not be a significant health risk.

Still, we suggest speaking with your medical doctor or another appropriately licensed medical professional, before starting a regimen of hair growth vitamins or supplements. I’m not trying to scare you, but I do want you to be careful. Take care.

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