Biotin: The Secret Ingredient For Hair Growth?

Biotin, the B Vitamin used by your body in metabolising energy, is often cited as a magical ingredient to boost hair growth. But what does it actually do, and can it help?

Biotin, also called Vitamin B7, mostly works by aiding enzymes known as carboxylases in helping break down your body’s intake of carbs, fats, and proteins into useable energy. It’s used in a huge range of metabolic functions, such as regulating blood sugar, and aiding in the production of proteins such as keratin. Keratin is found in the structure of hair, nails, and skin, and it’s common to find hair and skincare products with added keratin as a strengthening ingredient.

So what does help your hair grow? In terms of the most effective ways to boost your hair’s growth rate and condition, the most important factors are nutrition, metabolism, and overall health. Your hair’s condition is often a reflection of your overall health, so keeping yourself healthy is probably the most effective way to growing strong and healthy hair. The usual rules apply here: eat well, keep active, and drink plenty of water.

However, biotin deficiency, often as a result of malnutrition or rapid weight loss, or certain illnesses, can have brutal effects on your skin and hair. These symptoms most commonly include hair thinning and loss, nails that are brittle and easily broken, and skin issues such as rashes or flaking. This would indicate that biotin plays an important part in how your body grows hair, skin, and nails.

A 2016 study from the Center for Dermatology and Hair Diseases in Zurich, Switzerland, found that in a group of women experiencing hair loss, over a third suffered from biotin deficiency. However, more research is needed in this area to determine other risk factors in hair loss, and in developing an effective treatment.

For nutrition, balanced diets rich in a wide range of vitamins and minerals are the way to go. For biotin in particular, the best sources are from food, particularly leafy green vegetables, nuts, mushrooms, organ meats such as liver, legumes such as soybeans, eggs, and milk. If you don’t consume animal products, vegetarian and vegan biotin supplements are perfect. Basically, a well-balanced, healthy diet – if it’s good for you, it’s probably also good for your hair!

While more research is needed overall on the full benefits of biotin, the links between biotin deficiencies and hair loss indicate that it could be an important ingredient in healthy hair growth. The easiest way to boost hair growth is focussing on eating right and making sure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs. And the occasional biotin supplement won’t hurt!

November 14, 2018 — Eleni Mills

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