Have you tried taking biotin supplements to improve hair thinning or hair loss (alopecia), but found all it did was strengthen your nails? The reason being is that biotin supplementation works best when a person with alopecia has a true biotin deficiency. But, a true biotin deficiency is rare, especially in the developed world. In fact, biotin deficiencies are not a common cause for those experiencing hair loss. A study published last year in the International Journal of Trichology showed that out of all their female participants complaining of hair loss (541, between the ages of 9 and 92), less than half (38%) had true biotin deficiency.
Why is biotin deficiency rare?
It is found in common foods, such as meats, egg yolk, milk, fish, and nuts.
Some strands of bacteria in our intestines actually produce biotin that is then taken up by intestinal cells.
What are some possible risk factors for biotin deficiency?
Inflammatory bowel disease
Medical therapies like isotretinoin, anti-eleptics, or long-term use of antibiotics
Consumption of raw eggs
Can biotin supplements help hair regrow even if biotin levels are normal?
Even though controlled studies have not found evidence of biotin regrowing hair in those with normal biotin levels, I cannot discredit what myself, other physicians, and our patients have observed clinically. Biotin supplementation has regrown hair in some, regardless of their biotin status. The verdict is still out as to why.
Is too much biotin harmful?
Biotin toxicity is essentially nonexistent. This is why most clinicians don't discourage those who want to try biotin supplements for their hair loss, as it may help, not hurt.
Please seek evaluation from a board-certified dermatologist for a thorough examination of the scalp and hair in the event of hair thinning and/or loss. The cause could be multifactorial and not just limited to a vitamin deficiency.
1. Trueb R. Serum biotin levels in women complaining of hair loss. International Journal of Trichology. 2016;8(2):73-77.
2. Davis L, LeBlanc K, Knable A, Owen C. Miscellaneous systemic drugs. In Wolverton S. Comprehensive Dermatologic Drug Therapy, 35, 424-443.
3. Wallig M, Keenan K, Nutritional Toxicologic Pathology In: Haschek W, Rousseau C, Wallig M. Haschek and Rousseaux's Handbook of Toxicologic Pathology, Chapter 36, 1077-1121.