Everything You Need to Know About Biotin
Can this supplement really improve the health of your hair, skin, and nails?
Biotin is part of the family of B complex vitamins, and it's found in many of the foods you're already eating—like egg yolk, nuts, whole grains, and more—but many beauty gurus claim that taking an additional biotin supplement can do wonders for your hair, nails, and skin. Is it all too good to be true? We talked to three dermatologists to find out whether or not the tiny pill really lives up to these claims.
What does biotin actually do?
Dr. Michael Hall, an aesthetic surgeon specializing in anti-aging and regenerative medicine at the Hall Longevity Clinic, explains that while all B complex vitamins are important for hair, skin, and nail health, biotin is responsible for helping your body manufacture proteins needed to form all three's protein substructures. "All the body's organs, including the skin, [are] made of a variety of different proteins, fats, and specialized matrixes to hold water," he explains.
How do you know if you need the supplement?
Dr. Hall says that people who are deficient in biotin may show uncomfortable symptoms like dry skin, irritated eyes, brittle hair and nails, and sometime a facial rash. "There is so much negativity these days around using mineral vitamins micronutrients," he says. "There is no question that our society has become more stressful and the nutrient base of our soil is depleted. Even if you eat lots of fresh veggies and fruits, you're not getting as many nutrients as you think." In short, just about anyone can benefit from the supplement. He recommends adding extra high-quality supplements to your diet; taking 30 micrograms (mcg) of biotin per day will keep you looking great (and pregnant woman should take closer to 35). If you do decide to add biotin to your routine, Dr. Hall suggests taking it alongside an ascorbic acid supplement as well, which will help increase collagen production.
Consult your physician.
While Dr. Tahani Williams says that biotin is water-soluble, meaning that excess amounts of the vitamin aren't stored in your body. Even so, you should still speak with your doctor before adding the pill to your regimen, she adds. "Anyone on medications or who has health conditions should consult with their physician before taking any supplement, including biotin," she notes, adding that taking too much can result in minor side effects like nausea, cramping, and diarrhea.
Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist with Skin Safe Dermatology and Skin Care, recommends reminding your doctor that you're taking biotin before you undergo any blood work: "Taking biotin supplements can actually interfere with certain blood tests, causing falsely high or low results, depending on the test. Incorrect test results may lead to inappropriate patient management or misdiagnosis."