Biotin for hair:The truth about biotin and what it can do for growth


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Biotin for hair supplements will likely come up in any conversation about hair not being as healthy and full as it used to be. Before you run to your local drugstore to panic buy their entire stock, however, read on to see what taking biotin won’t do, what it might do and why you should never expect too much from your supplements.


What it won’t do

Taking a biotin supplement is not going to prevent hair loss. In fact, according to Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute, not enough scientific evidence exists to back up claims that biotin effectively helps treat hair loss.

This makes sense, because hair loss can occur for various reasons — stress, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances and so on — and it’s important to work out with your doctor what the underlying reason for your hair loss is before you run out to buy biotin and a dozen additional supplements. The reason you are losing your hair determines the course of action to take to stop it, stall it or find an alternative way of dealing with it.

Not to be the bearer of more bad news, but once a hair follicle is permanently dead, it results in permanent baldness, so don’t let charlatans fleece you for your hard-earned money.


What it might do

Some people who take biotin report that it noticeably thickens their hair. Even if that is the case, you should not assume that it will work for you simply because it seemingly worked for a certain number of people you know — even if you can vouch that their hair, once limp and stringy, looks as if it has regained its fullness.

Still, whether biotin can effectively make existing hair appear thicker depends on why hair started thinning out in the first place, diet, general health and the impact of any hereditary issues. Has it worked for some people? We don’t doubt it. Some beauty blogs even suggest taking prenatal vitamins to get full hair, too, even if you’re not having or planning to have a baby.


Nothing beats the real thing

The Mayo Clinic reminds takers and would-be takers of biotin that “vitamins alone will not take the place of a good diet and will not provide energy. Your body needs other substances found in food, such as protein, minerals, carbohydrates and fat. Vitamins themselves cannot work without the presence of other foods.”

A further word of advice is to talk to your doctor before starting to take biotin, or any supplement, to rule out possible adverse drug interactions and determine the appropriate and safe daily dosage.

If you want to get your biotin and eat it, too, well, you can get some liver, cauliflower, salmon, carrots, bananas and cereal. Biotin is also found in soy flour and yeast. Keep in mind that cooking and preserving diminishes the amount of biotin in foods.


Grain of salt

The results of three studies on the efficacy of multivitamins — namely, whether they really help us stay healthy — have made headlines this week. The authors of a study published yesterday in the Annals of Internal Medicine stated, “These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough.”

If we apply this logic to biotin, the takeaway is that we shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations or get our hopes up that biotin (or any supplement) will do more than it can. If your hair is falling out, taking biotin is not going to stop it. If your hair is thinning out, biotin won’t make hair regrow. Keeping a level head, talking to your doctor and doing some research — not from the people trying to sell you stuff who are obviously going to say it’s great — will save you money and potential disappointment when you’re out a lot of cash and still dealing with thin hair.