Table of Contents
- 1 What actually is biotin?
- 2 Does biotin really work?
- 3 What are the potential benefits of taking biotin?
- 4 Are there any side effects to taking biotin?
- 5 How much biotin should I take?
- 6 What foods are high in biotin?
- 7 How long does it take for biotin to work?
- 8 The best biotin supplements
- 9 The best biotin shampoo
If you’re trying to grow your hair fast, you’ve probably heard about biotin. An over-the-counter vitamin that’s used in everything from hair, skin and nails tablets to biotin-rich shampoos, it’s one of the most searched for supplements out there.
But are we popping supplements way more than we actually need to be – and should you be taking biotin in the first place? Plus, what are the side effects of taking biotin?
We put your questions to Nutritional Therapist Eve Kalinik and award-winning Hairdresser Adam Reed. Whatever your biotin queries, we’ve got them answered.
So before you head on down to Boots and pick up a packet of biotin supplements, it’s important that you give this a read first…
What actually is biotin?
‘Also known as vitamin H, Biotin is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin (aka vitamin B7),’ explains Nutritional Therapist, Eve Kalinik. ‘Biotin helps the body to metabolise carbohydrates, fats and amino acids which are important as the building blocks of protein.’
Does biotin really work?
Look, some people swear by biotin supplements, saying it lends their hair a swish and strengthens their nails. And that could well be the case. But the reality is: hard, scientific evidence proving their efficacy is inconclusive. The claims stem from the fact that a deficiency of the vitamin can cause hair loss and skin and nail issues. When it comes to this issue, the NHS states that ‘You should be able to get all the biotin you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.’
While there have been a few small studies conducted which show a positive impact of taking the supplement, these have not shown results that are firmly conclusive.
What are the potential benefits of taking biotin?
Biotin is another name for vitamin B7, an essential vitamin for supporting the normal function of hair, skin and nails – as mentioned, a deficiency in it causes issues with these things. ‘Biotin plays a critical role in healthy hair growth as it helps to support the infrastructure of keratin,’ explains Kalinik. ‘It helps to support healthy hair from within, especially when combined with vitamin C, iron and zinc; all of which can be found in Viviscal Hair Supplements [note: Kalinik has worked with Viviscal in a commercial capacity as a brand ambassador, before.] These vitamins and nutrients are crucial for a healthy scalp and hair’.
Are there any side effects to taking biotin?
While taking biotin supplements is fairly common and safe, there are a few side effects to be aware of. Sometimes, adding a high supplement of biotin into your diet can result in you having an upset stomach, as your gut adjusts to the new levels of vitamin.
However many people find that taking a biotin supplement after a meal can help curve nausea. As a rule of thumb, it’s always a good idea to keep track of any symptoms and consult with your doctor.
One thing to flag is that, in 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that it had heard of reports of biotin supplements taken in high doses causing incorrect blood results on tests, including to measure thyroid-stimulating hormone and vitamin D.
How much biotin should I take?
The NHS advises: ‘If you take biotin supplements, do not take too much as this might be harmful. Taking 0.9mg or less a day of biotin in supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.’
What foods are high in biotin?
There are good amounts of biotin in foods such as avocado, egg yolks, peanut butter and salmon. Smaller amounts of vitamin B7 can be found in sunflowers seeds, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. For those on a vegan diet, it can be harder to get decent amounts of vitamin B7, as the amount of biotin within plant based foods is significantly lower than animal based products – however, it’s certainly not impossible.
How long does it take for biotin to work?
‘With any supplements they take time to work,’ says Kalinik. ‘But you will often see that your nails change before your hair does. A supplement isn’t going to grow back hair that is lost, but it can help to nourish the hair that is there, so it is much healthier’.
‘It normally takes around around three months for a hair supplement to work’, explains Hairdresser Adam Reed. ‘That is because that is your growth phase. After three to six months is when you’ll start to see the difference – you have to stick at it.’
Worried about hair loss and wanting a quicker fix? ‘While supplements like Viviscal are a long-term solution for healthy and fuller-looking hair’, says Reed, ‘I always recommend Toppik Hair Building Fibers to my clients as a product to help conceal problem areas instantly – acting as a quick fix. They’re keratin-derived fibres which bind electrostatically to your existing hair to help to disguise thinning areas’.
The best biotin supplements
1/ The best no-frills biotin supplement: Holland & Barrett Biotin 100 Tablets (1000ug)
A great little all rounder, these no-fuss supplements contain all the biotin you need to support skin, hair and nail health. Plus, they’re vegan.
2/ The best biotin gummies: Starpowa Hair, Skin and Nail 60 Gummies
Hate taking tablets? These Starpowa gummies have your back. They’re packed with biotin, zinc, vitamin C and folic acid to support collagen production – as well as healthy skin and hair. Oh and these are vegan too!
3/ The best biotin supplements to add to your morning shake: Bulksupplements Pure Biotin (Vitamin B7) Powder
If you’d rather blitz a powder into your morning shake, then this is the biotin blend for you. It contains only pure vitamin B7 – no sugar, soy, gluten, dairy or additives added. Although pricey, you get 10,000 servings per container.
The best biotin shampoo
1/ OGX Thick & Full+ Biotin & Collagen Shampoo
Affordable and packed with the good stuff – there’s not much to dislike.
2/ Briogeo Blossom & Bloom Ginseng & Biotin Volumizing Shampoo
Fortified with follicle-stimulating ginger and ginseng (as well as biotin, of course) this shampoo instantly injects volume into thin and fine strands.
3/ R+Co Dallas Biotin Thickening Shampoo
Not only does this shampoo smell great, it’s jam-packed with biotin, pro vitamin B5 and coconut oil, for thicker, stronger, healthier-looking locks.
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