Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin of the family of Vitamin B complex. It is also known as Vitamin H. Biotin mediates a wide variety of chemical reactions inside the body ranging from metabolism of fats, amino acids, and carbohydrates. Many of these reactions are associated with hair and nail health. Biotin is synthesized by the bacteria present in the intestine. The synthesized quantity is more than the quantity required by the body, thus the chances of biotin deficiency are rare. The deficiency of this vitamin is caused due to inherent enzyme deficiency. Egg yolk, liver, mushroom, sweet potato, oat flakes, salmon, dairy products, nuts, and unpolished rice contains a high amount of biotin. The efficacy of biotin in hair health is a controversial debate as there is no conclusive evidence of biotin improving hair health in normal and healthy people.
Bipin is also known as Vitamin H or Vitamin B7. It is a water-soluble vitamin and is a member of Vitamin B-complex. It is required by the body for aiding various metabolic processes. Biotin converts the food ingredients absorbed by the body into energy. It functions as a coenzyme for various metabolic processes. Some of them are fatty acid synthesis and metabolism of branched chain amino acids.
An important reaction related to the growth of hair and nails assisted by biotin is the gluconeogenesis. Biotin is produced in the body by the intestinal bacteria. It is to be noted that the biotin produced through intestinal bacteria is sufficient to cater body needs. Apart from its use in the hair and nail care products, biotin also has its presence in various nutraceutical supplements marketed for general health care and immunity enhancer.
Apart from the oral formulations, biotin also finds its way in the cosmetics which are meant to be applied topically. In some cases, the body is not able to absorb or use the biotin available in food or supplements. This leads to biotin deficiency.
Biotin deficiency can be seen in the conditions such as deficiency of biotinidase and enzyme holocarboxylase synthetase. Normal plasma level of biotin ranges from 400 to 1200 ng/L whereas the person with biotin deficiency has the biotin level of less than 200 ng/L.
Biotin for healthy hair: What research says
Biotin is the vitamin which is used as a coenzyme to assist in various metabolic reactions which are essential for the development of healthy hair. Due to this, biotin is almost essential in all the supplements targeted for healthy hair. But do the efficacy of biotin is backed up by authenticated research data? The answer is no.
Various studies have been conducted to demonstrate the efficacy of biotin supplementation on hair health but most of them failed to conclude a favorable result. This is due to the fact that hair health is a multifactorial phenomenon and is not dependent alone on the level of biotin. Various factors which also affect the hair health includes smoking, age, anorexia, alcoholism, and pregnancy.
Most of the studies which concluded that biotin supplementation has an effect on hair growth are done on the patients who have an inherent enzyme deficiency. These studies show excellent efficacy of biotin on hair health concluding that biotin is effective in patients with conclusive enzyme deficiency.
However, only a single study concluded that biotin is effective in a normal and healthy individual suffering from poor hair health. Even in this case, there was the multifactorial cause of hair loss such as seborrheic dermatitis as well as there was biotin deficiency due to the use of isotretinoin, antibiotics, and antiepileptics.
In-vitro studies have also concluded that biotin does not have any effect on the proliferation and differentiation of follicular keratinocytes. Thus, there is no evidence to prove the efficacy of biotin for hair health in normal healthy individuals.
Biotin rich foods
Biotin deficiency is a not a common disorder as the intentional flora produces biotin which can be used by the body. The amount of biotin produced in the intestine exceeds the requirement of the human body. However, in some circumstances, the patient requires a higher level of biotin or there is a biotin deficiency in the body. In these cases, apart from the biotin supplementation, various foods are incorporated in the diet of patients. Following are the food supplements which are the good source of biotin:
- Egg yolk: Egg yolk is one of the richest sources of biotin. Avidin, an egg protein, makes a complex with biotin and make it unavailable for human use. As the avidin gets inactivated by heat, eggs should be cooked before eating.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, and peanuts are all the good sources of biotin, but the concentration of biotin may vary in different nuts.
- Meat especially liver: Excess quantity of biotin produced by the body is stored in the liver. Thus, animal liver contains high quantity of biotin.
- Dairy: Dairy products such as cheese and yogurt are also considered a high source of biotin.
- Avocado: Apart from containing a good quantity of biotin, avocado also enhances skin health due to the presence of vitamin E. It also contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are good for health.
- Oat flakes: Biotin concentration in oat flakes is about 20 microgram per 100 gm.
- Wheat germ: Wheat germ is also considered a good source of biotin with 17 micrograms present in 100 gm.
- Mushroom: Apart from containing approximately 16 mcg/100 gm of biotin, mushroom also contains a variety of minerals making it perfect food for improving health.
- Miscellaneous: Other food ingredients containing high biotin quantity includes unpolished rice, salmon, sweet potato, berries, cauliflower, and spinach.
There is an alarming increase in the use of biotin as a supplement for hair health. Although there are cases in which the patient’s hair health have improved due to biotin supplementation, these are only the case studies and the randomized clinical trial was lacking. Further, in the clinical trials, biotin supplementation proved to be effective in patients with inherent enzyme deficiency. Thus, biotin supplementation in hair health should be used with caution after evaluating the clinical situation of the patient on a case-to-case basis.