The secret to healthy hair, brilliant skin and strong nails lies in a balanced diet that is made up of a variety of fruits and vegetables, protein, and plenty of water.
The highlight of today’s newsletter is a micronutrient called biotin or vitamin B7. Many people swear that biotin has improved their hair, nails, and skin. Let’s take a deeper look.
What is Biotin?
Biotin is also known as vitamin B7 or vitamin H (which stands for Haar and Haut, the German words for hair and skin). It is a water-soluble vitamin…meaning, it is carried to your body’s tissues but your body does not store it.
Where Can We Get Biotin?
Various foods are a good source of biotin. You can get them from eggs, fish, meat, dairy products, nuts, and seeds. And your gut microbes also produce biotin.
What Is the Role of Biotin in the Body?
Biotin is an essential vitamin. We can’t live without it. It is involved in many metabolic processes such as converting glucose, fats, and proteins into nutrients and energy. Biotin also supports cardiovascular health as well as the proper functioning of your brain and nerves.
Biotin also plays an essential role in maintaining healthy skin because enzymes that nourish the skin rely on biotin.
In addition, studies show that biotin helps decrease blood sugar levels among insulin-dependent diabetic patients.
What Are the Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency?
While biotin deficiency is rare in the U.S., symptoms of deficiency include brittle nails, hair loss, and red, scaly skin rashes.
Those same symptoms can also be caused by iron deficiency or a thyroid issue.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 30 micrograms (mcg) is the adequate daily intake for adults (19 years of age and older), and this amount is easily achieved through the diet.
So what happens if you take supplemental biotin without having a deficiency?
What Happens When You Take Too Much Biotin?
Since biotin is water-soluble, it is easily eliminated from the body through urine and the chance of vitamin toxicity is pretty low. And as I mentioned, it is pretty easy to get biotin from your diet.
Taking a lot of extra biotin may interfere with some lab results such as thyroid hormone tests, so before any blood work is done, it is important to let your practitioner know about any medications or supplements you are taking.
Other negative side effects of excessive biotin intake are:
- Acne breakouts and changes in skin tone and texture – Too much biotin can hinder the absorption of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) which is essential in fighting acne.
- Signs of allergic reaction such as skin rashes, watery eyes, and congestion – These happen when you are allergic to an ingredient or additive in some biotin supplements.
- Nausea, cramping, diarrhea, or indigestion – They usually occur when biotin is taken on an empty stomach. So if you are taking biotin, make sure that you eat first.
- Interactions with medications like anticonvulsants.
- Blood sugar level alterations – Mentioned earlier, biotin can decrease glucose levels in the blood. Consequently, this can also result to abnormally low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) among insulin-dependent diabetic patients.
How to Take Biotin Safely?
As I mentioned, if you eat an unprocessed diet with plenty of protein, you are likely meeting your biotin needs. Different age groups have different RDAs (Recommended Daily Allowance):
- 5 mcg daily for infants
- 6–8 mcg daily for infants ages 7 months to 3 years old
- 12–20 mcg daily for children ages 4–13 years old
- 25 mcg for adolescents
- 30 mcg for male and female adults over 19 years old
- 30 mcg for pregnant women
For hair loss, the amount of biotin recommended is a lot higher: 2,500-3,000 mcg. It’s best to start slowly and work your way up.
If you are pregnant, drink a lot of alcohol, a smoker, or have a kidney disease, have undergone stomach surgery, have been taking antibiotics or anti-seizure drugs, or have digestive disorders, please discuss with your healthcare provider before supplementing.
If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).
Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!