by Ann-Louise Holland

Biotin is probably the first vitamin you hear of when you get concerned about thinning hair.  Some reports even suggest it is called Vitamin H, because H is the letter for hair, although in this case it was 'haar' since it was German scientists who discovered its beneficial properties for our hair, skin AND nails.  It certainly was the only vitamin my trichologist recommended when he looked at my hair under the microscope.  He actually showed me a few of my hair follicles enlarged on his TV monitor and said ‘this is where your hair stopped picking up minerals’ and certainly, I could see a hair follicle that was thick at one end and thin at the other.

So his prescription for the thin end was firstly to take Biotin as a supplement and secondly to massage and stimulate my scalp so that the Biotin and other nutrients would reach my hair via the increased blood flow the massage action would create.  According to him, Biotin is the key to stronger, thicker and more resilient hair and this is backed up by tons of noise on the internet about Biotin’s action in producing stronger hair.  Science is definitive about how Biotin or Vitamin B7 creates keratin but apart from one Harvard study which established Biotin as ‘one of the essential nutrients for preserving hair strength, texture and appearance’, there are hardly any clinical studies on Biotin’s effect on hair, so I’ve pulled together a list of five things to know about Biotin if you are taking it as a supplement.

  1. Biotin makes hair: Biotin is needed to biochemically process the amino acids that create keratin and keratin is the protein that our hair is made up of.
  2. Maybe alcohol is bad for Biotin: It is hard to be deficient in Biotin unless there are metabolic and digestive disorders, however alcoholics are known to have lower levels of Biotin – so lots of alcohol can’t be good for Biotin and your hair.
  3. New mums need extra Biotin: Pregnant or nursing mothers have lower levels of Biotin due to the increased demand for the vitamin and this may explain the flourish and then the fall of hair after pregnancy.  According to the health website the quantity of Biotin in breast milk is hundreds of times greater than in the blood.
  4. Steam or roast your vegetables: Biotin is water soluble and will be leeched from foods when they are boiled.
  5. You can’t overdose on Biotin: Since Biotin is water soluble, the body does not store it and any excess is passed out in the urine.  Biotin regulates blood sugar and as the body monitors blood stasis closely, it will ensure it is perfectly balance balanced and a blood test probably won’t demonstrate how much is in the body.