What is Biotin and What does it do?

          Over the last few years, the beauty and makeup industry has exploded. Whereas we used to wash our face with soap and call it a day, things like the 12-step Korean skincare routine have taken over the self-care trends. Even hair masks and scalp detoxes have entered the conversation as a must for your beauty routines. On the one hand, it’s great that we have so many more options to choose from when it comes to how we take care of ourselves. But on the other hand, we may be getting duped into buying products that we don’t need or that don’t really work just because they’re “trendy.” 

          By now, we’ve all seen tons of celebrities promote all sorts of beauty and weight loss vitamins and teas on social media, SugarBearHair Hair Vitamins being one of the most popular. One of the key ingredients that have been popularized in all of these hair and skincare supplements is biotin. So we want to know, is it just a buzzword, or does it actually have benefits? 

Here’s What We Know

According to Mount Sinai, Vitamin H, also called biotin, is a part of the vitamin B complex group. This group of vitamins supports the enzymes in charge of metabolizing fats, proteins, and carbs. Here are specific processes that biotin plays a role in in the body, according to Medical News Today

  • Gluconeogenesis: This is the synthesis of glucose from sources other than carbs, such as amino acids and biotin-containing enzymes, which help initiate this process.
  • Fatty acid synthesis: Biotin assists enzymes that activate important reactions for the production of fatty acids.
  • Amino acid breakdown: Biotin-containing enzymes are involved in the metabolism of several essential amino acids, including leucine.

Overall, biotin plays a vital role in keeping your hair, skin, eyes, liver, and nervous system healthy. Because biotin is water-soluble, the body can’t store it, but bacteria can produce it in your gut. However, we also get biotin from our diets.

Here is a list of natural sources of biotin you can add to your diet: 

  • Eggs
  • Mushrooms
  • Nuts
  • Nut butter
  • Soybeans
  • Whole grains 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Banana 
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet Potato

So What Does this All Mean? 

We conclude that there is more to biotin than just being a health and beauty buzzword. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health report that biotin deficiencies are difficult to spot in lab tests, so it’s usually identified by its symptoms: thinning hair, brittle nails, tiredness, depression, dry and scaly skin, and insomnia. Some evidence shows that a biotin deficiency has a chance of disrupting blood sugar or glucose regulation, so biotin levels may be lower in people with diabetes (Medical News Today). Furthermore, it is an important vitamin for pregnant or lactating women as at least a third develop marginal biotin deficiencies (National Institutes of Health) because the body breaks vitamins down faster during pregnancy. Overall, it supports health in many ways because it helps the body convert food into energy with its role in metabolizing carbs, fats, and proteins. 

 

Here is a table provided by the National Institutes of Health on the recommended daily dose of biotin: 

Sources: 

Healthline. (2017, September 21). Health Benefits of Biotin. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/the-benefits-of-biotin

Healthline. (2021, April 5). Biotin for Hair Growth: Does It Work? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/biotin-hair-growth

Medical News Today. (2020, June 17). What are the health benefits of biotin? Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318724

Mount Sinai, Icahn School of Medicine. (n.d.). Vitamin H (Biotin). Retrieved from https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/vitamin-h-biotin

National Institutes of Health. (2021, March 29). Biotin Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Biotin-HealthProfessional/

WebMD. (n.d.). Biotin. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-313/biotin