It is no longer news that biotin helps keep our hair, skin, and nails stronger, healthier, and looking radiantly beautiful. But what exactly is biotin and how much of it is just enough to achieve these results?
What is Biotin?
Biotin, also called vitamin B7, is a water-soluble vitamin which is one of the B-vitamins. Biotin is essential for energy production in our body. In addition, biotin improves the functions of our gut, brain, and heart.
Biotin acts as a coenzyme helping to convert foods we eat into fatty acids, amino acids, and glucose and use them to produce energy for normal function of cells and tissues in the body.
However, the main reason biotin is in the news these days is its effect on how we look: maintaining the strength and length of our hair, skin, and nails, giving us a young and beautiful look. This gives biotin the moniker “H vitamin”, where the “H” derives from the German words “Haar and Haut” which means “Hair and Skin”.
Biotin is a common ingredient in hair and skin cosmetic products, however, since it is water-soluble, it is not well absorbed through the skin, therefore, yielding results only if ingested.
Sources of Biotin
Biotin is a supplement, but it can also be found in a lot of foods such as organ meats, avocados, berries, fish, mushrooms, legumes, and eggs.
Sometimes, we could have insufficient amounts of biotin in our body, but this is a rare occurrence in countries where the people consume a lot of food. This is because we do not need so much biotin in our body and our gut has bacteria which can produce biotin on their own.
So why do some people still come down with biotin-deficiency? Biotin, as mentioned earlier, is water-soluble, meaning it can dissolve well in your blood and get excreted in your urine if it is in excess.
What this means is that the body does not store biotin, and even if you ingest excess biotin, it will dissolve in your urine to be washed away, hence the rarity of toxicity or adverse effects from its use.
However, for biotin to be readily available for use in your body, it requires the presence of three proteins which cause its release from foods and ensure its proper absorption.
Conditions which interfere with the function of these proteins, thereby causing biotin deficiency, include pregnancy, excess alcohol intake, thyroid disorders, cigarette smoking, prolonged use of antibiotics, prolonged use of anti-epileptic drugs, and diseases which impair absorption of nutrients in the gut such as Crohn’s disease.
Daily Recommended Values of Biotin
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science recommends the following daily intake to receive the benefits of biotin.
- 5 micrograms for infants
- 6 to 8 micrograms for infants between the ages of 7 months and 3 years
- 12 to 20 micrograms daily for children between the ages of 4 and 13
- 25 micrograms for adolescents
- 30 micrograms for adults above the age of 19 years
- 30 micrograms for pregnant women
- 35 micrograms for nursing mothers.
You can, however, consume biotin as supplements which contain other B-vitamins including vitamin B, vitamin B12, vitamin B2,and vitamin B3, if you do not consume enough biotin-containing foods. These vitamins work synergistically to promote the functions of each.
Correct Dose of Biotin for Hair Growth
Although the maximum limits for biotin intake has not been well established by medical professionals, it is recommended that you seek instructions from your physician if you must take doses higher than those outlined above.
Generally, higher doses are required for significant growth of hair, and a loose maximum of 10,000mcg is advised, but counsel from your physician should still be sought before using such doses of biotin
Biotin supplements are particularly necessary if you have biotin deficiency, in which case you might be needing up to 1,000mcg daily doses. However, safety has only been established for daily doses of 30 to 600mcg. Therefore, consider seeking advice from your physician if you must use higher doses.
Children do not need any form of biotin supplements because they have much lower daily requirement for biotin. Speak to your child’s pediatrician before commencing them on biotin.
Have in mind that not all of these B-vitamin supplements provide optimal benefits. To ensure you enjoy maximum benefits of biotin, ensure you get the ones made from food sources and free of artificial sweeteners or toxins.