Biotin is one of those nutrients that instantly makes us think of hair. After all, we rarely hear of its benefits and uses outside hair, skin, and nail support. But, can all the hype around this nutrient be trusted? And does biotin really help thicken hair and, to that extent, support hair growth? Here, we share what the research shows about biotin and if it can help you with your hair needs.
What is biotin?
Biotin is a nutrient that is part of the B-vitamin complex. It is called B-7 and is naturally found in many foods, including cereals, oats, rice, egg yolks, legumes, yeast, and certain vegetables. This vitamin is water-soluble, meaning that it is digested by water and is readily available for use by our tissues. Biotin helps extract energy from carbohydrates and can help with fat, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism. More specifically, it helps pull glucose (sugar) from carbohydrates so the body can use it for energy and to make amino acids.
Biotin is an essential nutrient, meaning the body cannot make it on its own. Therefore, we must get it from our diet. Most people can get their daily requirements from food. Still, those with nutrient-absorption problems, such as people with Crohn’s disease and other autoimmune conditions, may require supplements to help increase biotin availability.
Does biotin help thicken hair?
Biotin is one of the most common nutrients found in hair, skin, and nail supplements. Indeed, when one thinks of healthy hair supplementation, biotin is the first nutrient that comes to mind. Biotin helps support the infrastructure of keratin, the proteins that make up your hair, skin, and nails.
Several studies look at the effect biotin can have on hair. Most of these studies show that biotin does play a role in healthy hair growth. It may help you grow thicker, stronger strands, and it can also protect your hair by giving it more strength. Additionally, there is some evidence that biotin also makes the hair shinier and more vibrant in appearance. Furthermore, because biotin supports keratin, it can also promote a healthy scalp, which is an important foundation for healthy hair growth.
Can biotin promote hair growth?
What we still don’t fully see in the research is whether or not biotin increases the hair growth rate. Unless affected by other factors, such as stress, hormones, and health conditions, our hair growth cycle is strictly regulated by gene expression, meaning that it comes down to our DNA to determine how fast our hair grows.
With that said, while biotin may not speed up hair growth, it will make newer hair strands much healthier and stronger, meaning they will be less likely to break. Many people lose hair growth or see thinning because their hair is weak and prone to breakage with brushing or even while you are sleeping and moving your head on your pillow.
How to use biotin
Biotin is most commonly found in oral supplements. However, you may also see it in some shampoos. While the effects of using biotin topically are still not well studied, there are more studies supporting its use as an oral supplement.
People can take biotin alone or get it through a hair support supplement. Before adding any supplements to your health regimen, it is always important to consult your doctor first. Typically, there are few contraindications to taking a biotin supplement, but biotin can interfere with certain health conditions and diagnostic tools, such as thyroid blood tests. That’s not to say that people with a thyroid condition like hypothyroidism cannot take biotin; it is just that you may need to stop your biotin supplement a few days before your test to be sure your results are accurate.
Most people who take a biotin supplement do so daily. However, you will want to follow the dosage guidelines on the package of your specific supplement. Additionally, it is important to eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of natural foods containing biotin. While this vitamin is essential for hair growth, numerous other nutrients are also vital, which is where a varied diet of wholesome foods is key for hair growth support.
How else can you thicken hair?
Aside from diet and supplements, you can help thicken your hair by using the right hair care products. Some products contain medication that is known to help to increase hair growth, like minoxidil. These medicated products are highly effective at helping combat hair loss from common conditions like androgenic alopecia and can help restore volume.
Additionally, staying away from damaging practices like coloring your hair and chemically treating it to modify the texture can help keep your hair thick and healthy. And lastly, even how you style your hair can make a big difference in hair volume. Try to avoid tight ponytails and braids, and reserve hot styling tools for special occasions.