Grow Healthy Hair and Nails: Why Biotin is the Answer.
Biotin’s popularity has gained momentum since the discovery of its stupendous health benefits with regards to hair growth and stronger nails. As a result, most hair product and cosmetic labels these days proudly announce the notable presence of biotin.
This indispensable nutrient plays a key role in keeping your hair and skin in the pink. In fact, biotin was originally known as Vitamin H. Not surprisingly, the H stood for ‘Haar und Haut’ which means hair and skin in German.
Biotin in your body breaks down fats, carbohydrates, etc. in your food to make sugar and fatty acids that are subsequently converted to energy. This and its many similar functions are vital in keeping your skin, hair, nails, eyes, nervous system, and liver running like clock-work. The US FDA recommends that normal adults may need up to 30 micrograms of biotin daily. Hence, lower levels of this vitamin in your diet could lead to a biotin deficiency.
So, how do you know if your hair loss or brittle nails are due to a lack of biotin? Or if your diet really matches the biotin levels required by your body to run smoothly? Here’s everything you need to know about this marvellous vitamin, from its health benefits to the superfoods and supplements that are likely to satisfy your daily dose of biotin.
What is Biotin?
Biotin is one of the all-important B-complex vitamins also referred to as Vitamin B7 or Coenzyme R. It is a water soluble vitamin so it loses its health giving properties once dissolved in water. Your body cannot make biotin, but it can get it from biotin rich food and some microorganisms within the intestines that make it. Typically, biotin comes attached to protein molecules and needs to be broken down before your body can absorb it. This process occurs within the intestines too. Once absorbed, biotin then helps with various bodily functions, mainly keeping the hair and skin healthy.
What does Biotin do?
The name Biotin is derived from ‘Biotos’, which represents sustenance or life in Greek. Very rightly too, as that’s exactly what biotin does. After your intestines have absorbed biotin, it gets to work. Some of its more important duties include,
- Cell growth,
- Breakdown of food particles into sugar and fatty acids
- The regulation of fat and amino acid metabolism
- Strengthening and enhancing hair and nail growth
Some researchers also believe that biotin is likely to help maintain normal blood sugar levels. Additionally, it aids eye, liver and nerve health too. Biotin is also a key player in maintaining the normal growth of the foetus within the womb in pregnant women. These are just some of the functions biotin is known to carry out, perhaps there are still more that science and research is yet to unearth.
What are the benefits of Biotin?
Biotin is legendarily associated with hair care. However, there is more to this splendid vitamin than just hair and cosmetics. To know the benefits of the very valuable biotin, one needs to understand what happens when the biotin levels in the body are lower than normal. A biotin deficiency is likely to result in hair fall, conjunctivitis, dry skin around the mouth, nose, eyes and genitals or nervous symptoms like fatigue, depression, hallucinations, and tingling numbness along the extremities. A biotin deficiency in pregnant women may also result in congenital abnormalities in the baby such as cleft palate.
On the contrary, an optimal level of biotin in your body is likely to have miscellaneous benefits such as,
- Strong hair, skin, and eyes
- Stronger nails
- Better blood sugar control
- A fit nervous system
Biotin for Hair and Nails
Biotin holds a pivotal position in hair and nail aesthetics. So much so that, any hair care routine goes incomplete without this marvellous gem of a vitamin. Biotin plays a very important part in cell growth and proliferation, which explains why it is so essential for healthier and quicker hair growth. Possibly, biotin’s role in cell growth is also why it is so important for stronger and thicker nails.
Furthermore, biotin aids the production of amino acids that subsequently make protein. Both hair and nails are made up of keratin that is a protein too. Hence, by enhancing the production of amino acids biotin may help with keratin production to in turn improve hair and nail growth.
A 2006 study published in ‘Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease’ also states that since both biotin and cysteine a molecule in hair contain sulphur; biotin is likely to aid hair growth. Additionally, a 2000 scientific study from Harvard validates biotin as a vital nutrient to strengthen hair follicles and improve hair growth and quality as well. Several animal studies have also proven it’s immensely important role in this arena.
How much of biotin do you actually need for quicker hair growth and better hair texture? The answer often varies as it is likely to depend on the pre-existing biotin levels in your body. While the recommended daily dose of Biotin by the US FDA is 30 micrograms for adults, the recommended doses for biotin deficiencies range between 30 to 100 micrograms per day. However, it is always better to speak to a healthcare professional before deciding on an individual dose.
Side effects of Biotin
Side-effects or overdose with biotin is rare. Most studies have shown no side-effects with doses up to 10mg of biotin taken daily. However, if at all you experience any unfamiliar symptoms after taking any biotin supplements, always err on the side of reason and report them to your physician.
Sources of Biotin
If you are wondering how to replenish your biotin stores, you need not look too far. Most if not all food sources contain this hair tonic in abundance. Here’s a list of the biotin rich foods you could include in your diet for healthier hair, nails and much more.
- Egg yolk
- Liver, pork
- Nuts mainly almonds and peanuts
- Fish especially salmon
- Swiss chard
- Leafy vegetables
- Cheddar cheese
Biotin has a low bioavailability mainly because our bodies don’t make this vitamin. Plus, the biotin in most food sources needs to be broken down before it gets absorbed and put to good use by the intestines. Hence, the chances of lower biotin levels are supposedly higher although biotin deficiencies are not too common. While you can make sure to eat biotin rich food to counter such deficiencies, your body still needs to process the food before it actually gets to the biotin in it. This process is hindered further in the presence of intestinal diseases that may obstruct the absorption of biotin in there.
This is when biotin supplements come to the rescue. Biotin supplements are a better bet to get your daily dose of biotin considering the odds of getting it out of your diet. Appearex, Genadur, Meribin and Nail-ex are some of the Biotin supplements available in the market today.
The route to vibrant and thick hair and supple nails may not be all that elusive after all. Getting your daily dose of the marvellous biotin through the right means is likely to do just that.