Biotin is known as the hair, nail, and skin vitamin. Many claim that it’s responsible for longer and healthier hair, but dermatologists aren’t so sure. Read on to see why you should think twice before trying this so-called “beauty vitamin.”
What is Biotin?
“Biotin is B complex vitamins (also known as vitamin H) which are important in metabolism; helping your body to process energy and transporting carbon dioxide from your body’s cells,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Susan Stuart.
It’s also known as the “beauty pill” that claims to increase hair and nail growth rate and strength. But these claims are untested and unsupported by hard evidence. Maybe these rumored results have some validity: “Biotin is most effective in treating biotin deficiency, which may result in brittle nails and hair loss,” explains Dr. Susan Stuart. However, you can treat biotin deficiency by simply including more biotin-rich foods in your diet or by taking a biotin vitamin to reverse the deficiency symptoms.
Outside of treating biotin deficiency, the fact is that dermatologists aren’t exactly clear how it impacts hair and nail growth. According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Adrianna Jackson, “There has been no randomized clinical trials proving efficacy of biotin. In fact, 80-90% of the hair loss patients I see are already taking it [with no results].”
Not only are medical professionals unsure of how biotin affects the human body, they’re also unsure of the maximum dosage. Biotin overdose is rare, but on the flip side, no one can really say what a biotin overdose would look like. There are possible signs of overdosage that I will mention later.
Many biotin pills contain much higher dosages of 5000 mcg or 1000 mcg. In most cases, the average person doesn’t need that much, nor is it recommended. Because of these high dosages, it’s important to consult your doctor before taking biotin — or any supplement for that matter, with the exception of a daily multivitamin.
If you’re taking biotin, Dr. Stuart suggests looking out for these possible signs of biotin overdose: slower release of insulin, skin rashes, lower vitamin C and B6 levels, and high blood sugar levels.
Biotin should be reserved for those with a biotin imbalance. Any deficiency should be diagnosed by a physician. If you’re interested in taking biotin, many multivitamins offer the recommended daily dose, in addition to other B-complex vitamins. But biotin is most easily found in a balanced diet rich in whole grains and proteins.