Biotin: The Transformative Effects on Hair, Skin, and Nails
We’ve all seen them. They’re the men and women with the glossiest hair, the healthiest nails ,and crystal clear complexions. Are they doing anything differently than the rest of us to look so polished?
Chances are, it isn’t a special elixir or mysterious potion that’s giving them such an envious look. Rather, it’s a plentiful supply of biotin!
An essential B-vitamin, biotin plays a major role in the healthy development of our hair, skin and nails. Yet, many of us are deficient in it and don’t even realize it. Today, we’re taking a closer look at what this vitamin does and the simple way you can supplement it into your routine today.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get into it!
What is Biotin?
Biotin is a water-soluble B-vitamin that your body uses to convert food into energy. The description “water-soluble” means that it dissolves in the water inside of your body and your body does not store it.
You might also hear biotin called vitamin B7, coenzyme-R or vitamin H.
Where does the “H” come from? It actually stands for “Haar und Haut.” These are the German words for hair and skin, lending to the nutrient’s cosmetic connection.
Your body requires biotin to propel the function of certain enzymes called carboxylases. These biotin-rich enzymes are active players in many important metabolic pathways, including the creation of glucose and the production of fatty acids.
Recognizing Biotin Deficiencies
While it’s somewhat rare to have a severe biotin deficiency, pregnant women should keep a close eye on their levels, as they’re the group most at risk for numbers that are too low.
If you’re accustomed to consuming a large number of raw eggs, you could also be at risk of a deficiency, although the amount of eggs you’d have to consume is enormous. This risk stems from the fact that raw egg whites contain avidin, a protein that binds to biotin and prevents its absorption.
If you love a good omelet or scrambled egg plate, don’t worry! Avidin inactivates when it’s cooked. Let’s take a closer look at a few populations who are at the greatest risk of a biotin deficiency.
1. Biotinidase Deficiency
The most common cause of a biotin deficiency is biotinidase deficiency (BTD). This is a rare, inherited disorder that prevents your body from using biotin the way that it should. A mutation in your BTD gene triggers this condition.
This is the gene that tells your body how to make the biotinidase enzyme, which your body requires as it works to extract biotin from your food sources. Around one in 60,000 babies has BTD and will begin to display the following symptoms in his or her first few weeks or months:
Weak muscles (hypotonia)
Alopecia (hair loss)
While those are the most common signs, up to 50% of affected newborns could also exhibit these other mild symptoms:
Ataxia (poor coordination)
Conjunctivitis (red eye)
Lethargy and fatigue
Finally, the most severe symptoms of BTD, affecting 25% of cases or less, include:
Hepatomegaly (enlarged liver)
Splenomegaly (enlarged spleen)
In the United States, all babies receive a BTD screen at their birth. This normally includes a blood test, taking family history into account. Doctors can also extract sample fluid from a pregnant woman’s womb to check biotinidase activity.
2. Parenteral Nutrition
If you’re on parenteral nutrition, that means you’re fed intravenously for a substantial period of time. As such, your body could be at risk of developing a biotin deficiency.
3. Certain Medications
Some medications, such as those prescribed for people who suffer from seizures, can decrease your body’s biotin levels. In addition, you’re also at risk if you’ve taken antibiotics for a long period of time, as these can kill of the good bacteria in your gut responsible for biotin production.
4. Gastrointestinal Diseases
Some gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn's disease can cause inflammation in your digestive tract. This makes it more difficult for your gut to absorb certain nutrients, including biotin.
5. Excessive Alcohol Use
More research is needed, but some healthcare professionals draw a link between biotin levels and alcohol intake, noting that alcohol can inhibit biotin absorption.
Adults who have a biotin deficiency might notice the following symptoms:
Neurological concerns (e.g. depression, lethargy, hallucinations)
Paresthesias (pins and needles in your extremities)
Loss of hair color
Recommended Daily Biotin Intake
Most healthcare professionals recommend that infants consume around 5 micrograms (mcg) of biotin per day. On the other hand, adults should consume around 30 mcg. As their stores are depleted at a higher rate than most, breastfeeding women can safely consume up to 35 mcg per day.
If you’re deficient in biotin, your physician may recommend that you intake a higher amount until your levels even out. In most cases, people with biotin deficiencies take between 30mcg and 100mcg per day. Infants with a biotin deficiency may need from 10mcg to 30mcg depending on the case.
Major Health Roles
Before we dive into how it affects your hair, skin, and nails, let’s review a few biotin health benefits that keep your internal systems running as they should.
1. Helps Energy Production
As mentioned, there are entire enzymes that require biotin to function as they should. These enzymes help initiate the metabolic actions of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Specifically, biotin helps to spearhead the following processes:
Biotin-containing enzymes help initiate the process of gluconeogenesis, a metabolic pathway that allows glucose to be produced from sources other than carbohydrates, including amino acids.
Amino Acid Breakdown
Enzymes that contain biotin help metabolize many important amino acids, such as leucine.
Fatty Acid Synthesis
Your body can’t produce fatty acids unless several key internal reactions occur first. Biotin helps those enzymes that are responsible for activating those reactions.
2. Provides Pregnancy Protection
Both pregnant women and lactating women require higher levels of biotin than others, as their specific life stage necessitates it. Whether you’re growing a baby or feeding one, you tend to diminish your nutrient stores at a more rapid rate. You also break biotin down at a quicker rate during this time.
In fact, research shows that up to 50% of pregnant women will develop a biotin deficiency. If you’re at this stage or anticipate being in it soon, speak to your doctor about beginning a biotin supplement routine to ensure your levels stay where they should be.
In most cases, these deficiencies are mild in nature. That means your vitamin levels will lower, but the drop isn’t severe enough to create noticeable symptoms.
While some animal studies concluded that a biotin deficiency during pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of birth defects, more extensive research is required before physicians can draw a direct correlation.
3. May Assist Type 2 Diabetes Management
Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disease, characterized by heightened blood sugar levels and an impaired insulin function.
Although there is no official health connection, some researchers have found that persons with Type 2 diabetes tend to have lower levels of biotin than others who do not have the disease. Thus, many argue that supplemental biotin could have the ability to help lower blood sugar levels in diabetes sufferers.
However, biotin isn’t acting alone in this case. Of the controlled studies performed, most have combined it with the mineral chromium to see the results achieved.
4. May Help with Multiple Sclerosis Management
While Type 2 diabetes is metabolic in nature, multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease. We all have a protective covering or sheath that shields the nerve fibers in our eyes, brain, and spinal cord. When that covering becomes damaged or destroyed, MS occurs.
That sheath is made of myelin, a substance that biotin helps to produce.
One pilot study supports this connection. In it, 23 people suffering from progressive MS relied on a treatment regimen that centered on high levels of biotin. The result? More than 90% of them exhibited at least a minor degree of clinical improvement.
Biotin and Your Skin
Now that we’ve covered the health benefits of biotin, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what this piece entails. What are the benefits of biotin when it comes to your appearance? Are you wondering if biotin helps skin at all?
While there’s no direct evidence that consuming excessive amounts of the vitamin will lead to a dewy, blemish-free complexion, there is an argument for those who have deficiencies. If your biotin levels are too low, you might notice red, scaly patches of skin on your body. Then, those symptoms might subside once your levels elevate back up to a normal balance.
Especially in infants, a biotin deficiency can lead to a skin condition that appears in the form of seborrheic dermatitis. Also known as cradle cap, this occurs when your baby’s skin cells produce an excess amount of sebum, leading to oily brown or yellow scales on their head.
Many researchers believe its role relates to its effect on your fat metabolism. This function is required for healthy skin and if your vitamin levels are too low, it can become impaired, with symptoms ranging from a dull complexion to spotty rashes. If you’re after a fresh, glowy appearance, there’s no foundation in the world more powerful than a healthy body!
Remember that if your biotin levels are already adequate and you begin a supplement regimen, you might not wake up to brighter or better skin. That’s because elevated levels of biotin work best to combat signs of deficiencies, not improve upon a healthy complexion. Still, you will reap a host of other health benefits that make it a smart step in the right direction!
Biotin and Psoriasis
Are you one of the more than eight million Americans who suffer from plaque psoriasis? This is an immune system condition in which your skin cells build up and form scales, along with dry, itchy patches.
Common signs of this condition include:
Patches of skin that are red, raised and inflamed
White or silver scales on the red patches
Dry skin that sometimes cracks or bleeds
Painful and swollen joints
Thick or pitted nails
Soreness and tenderness around the red patches
Itching and burning around the red patches
Note that there is no scientific evidence that biotin can help combat psoriasis, (and therefore no set treatment dose). Still, many people believe that biotin supplements can help relieve most of the skin-related conditions associated with the condition. If you’re unable to absorb an adequate amount of biotin from your food, a supplement can help, though it’s important to check with your doctor first.
Biotin and Your Hair
Are you struggling with limp, lifeless and brittle hair? Have you noticed that your hair looks a little grayer and thinner than normal?
If so, it might not be your shampoo, conditioner or even your age and stress level at fault. Rather, your biotin levels could be too low!
As with skin health, a deficiency of biotin can lead to damaged hair. It can also make your hair thinner and strip it of its natural color. For these reasons, biotin has become intricately linked to the haircare industry in the past few years, with the connection fueled by salon products on the market that claims to be biotin-rich.
If you scan the aisle at your local pharmacy, you’ll notice that there are myriad brands selling shampoos, conditioners, hair oils, hair masks and styling products that contain biotin. The label on these bottles claims that the product can make your hair thicker, fuller, and shinier.
While these claims sound picture-perfect, a topical treatment can only get you so far. If you’re suffering from hair damage as a result of a biotin deficiency, only internal absorption of the vitamin will deliver transformative effects from the inside out.
Remember, while you might read that biotin is an ideal, alternative treatment to hair loss than over-the-counter solutions, this is only true if the hair loss itself stems from a biotin deficiency. There are other diseases and conditions that can lead to hair loss, including:
Your family history
Hormonal fluctuations (e.g. pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, thyroid problems)
Medical conditions (e.g. alopecia areata, scalp infections, trichotillomania)
Side effects of certain medications (e.g. those used to treat cancer, depression, arthritis, heart problems, gout, high blood pressure)
Physical or emotional shock
Certain hair treatments (e.g. permanents, hot oil treatments)
Biotin and Your Nails
Even if you take great care of your nails, you might find that they’re still brittle. Brittle nails are weak nails that can chip, split or crack easily.
If you’re struggling with this condition, know that you're not alone. Research shows that around 20% of people have brittle nails, a condition that’s also called onychorrhexis.
In most cases, brittle nails occur as a normal result of the aging process. While this symptom can signal a biotin deficiency, there are cases where it signifies an underlying health concern, such as thyroid disease, instead. Therefore, it’s always best to consult your physician before beginning a biotin supplement after noticing your nails have become more brittle lately.
Once you begin treatment, you could see results sooner than you expect. While your skin and hair might not show a direct boost from biotin supplements (unless you’re already deficient), biotin may play a direct role in the health of your nails and the longevity of your manicure.
For example, one study followed eight people who had brittle nails. They each received 2.5mg of biotin per day for between six and 15 months. Upon the conclusion of the study group, each person improved his or her nail thickness by 25% and also reduced nail splitting.
Ultimately, these types of studies are small and isolated. Thus more in-depth research is required before researchers can confidently state that supplemental biotin improves nail health. As with your skin and hair, you’ll notice the biggest difference if you were deficient in the vitamin prior to beginning your supplement routine.
The Primary Sources of Biotin
Actual deficiencies of biotin are rare because the vitamin is prevalent in some of the most common foods around. Let’s review which food sources are rich in this nutrient!
Organ meats (e.g. liver and kidney)
Legumes (e.g. soybeans and peanuts)
Leafy greens (e.g. kale, spinach, Swiss chard)
Nuts and nut butter
In addition to these natural food sources, your gut bacteria produce a small amount of biotin. You can also improve your levels by taking biotin supplements.
Why Use a Biotin Vitamin Patch?
If your biotin levels are too low, your doctor might recommend adding an oral supplement to your daily routine. In addition, you can also find topical ointments, such as skin creams, that contain trace amounts (0.0001% to 0.6%) of biotin.
While both of these can be effective approaches, they require a routine commitment that is all too easy to skip. Research shows that across all kinds of medicines, around 75% of people fail to take their medicine the right way.
If you’re depending on a pill, skipping even one dose could throw your treatment off-balance. Moreover, topical creams fail to deliver the potent biotin levels you need to see a noticeable difference.
With our Biotin Plus Topical Patch, however, all of those concerns diminish. You’ll apply a new patch once a day and that’s it! You can even wear the patch while you sleep, receiving all of the benefits of biotin vitamins with zero effort.
With each application, you’ll receive a powerful dose of biotin or vitamin B7. In fact, you’ll get 7,500mcg, which is 2,250% of your minimum daily value (DV)! In addition, the patch is also full of other nutrients, including:
Vitamin B9: 400mcg (100% DV)
Vitamin A: 5,000IU (100% DV)
Vitamin C: 500mg (450% DV)
Vitamin D3: 3,000IU (750% DV)
While biotin takes the starring role in our Biotin Plus Topical Patch, it’s also present in a few of our other patches, including the:
Multivitamin Plus Topical Patch: 600mcg biotin, 200% DV
Focus Plus Topical Patch: 200mcg biotin, 67% DV
Rather than fill a medicine cabinet with these various pills and remember to take them at set times every day, it’s easier, smarter and more effective to apply a painless patch that does the work for you.
Reap the Benefits of Biotin Today
We all want to look polished and feel our best. However, none of us has an excessive amount of time to commit to a lengthy and laborious supplement routine.
Whether you’re exhibiting signs of a vitamin deficiency or you just want to improve your energy level and help alleviate certain medical conditions, biotin can get you there. The simplest way to reap all of its powerful benefits? Apply our Biotin Plus Topical Patch and get on with your day.
Are you interested in learning more about this patch or our many others? Whether you want more energy, need to supercharge your workout, or just want to prevent or treat a hangover, we’ve got you covered.
Feel free to contact us today to learn more.