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Should you be taking biotin for hair loss?

Biotin deficiency is rare but low levels may result in brittle nails, dry skin and hair loss. Advocates claim that by taking biotin supplements or even washing your hair in biotin enriched shampoos can thicken the hair and stimulate hair growth. For this reason it usually features in many hair and nail supplements. Whilst the role of biotin in treating hair loss is unclear it is generally felt that there may be some improvement in the keratin infrastructure of the hair, particularly if the hair is dry or brittle. However, there is some evidence that biotin may benefit children with alopecia areata. In 1999 a study published found that taking supplements containing both zinc and biotin while topically applying clobetasol propionate (a synthetic steroid hormone) may help reduce the hair loss associated with childhood alopecia areata.

What is Biotin ?

Biotin, also known as vitamin B7 is a water soluble B vitamin and it is important in metabolism, helping your body to process energy and transport carbon dioxide from your body's cells. This vitamin is naturally present in many foods, including wholegrain cereals, dairy products, egg yolks, chicken, salmon and nuts. Our bodies can also synthesize significant quantities of biotin, by means of naturally-occurring intestinal bacteria and a significant fraction of the body's biotin is recycled. Those susceptible to deficiency include persons taking long term antibiotics, anticonvulsant therapy, or consuming excessive amounts of alcohol.

Recommended dose of Biotin.

The recommended daily intake for an adult is 30mcg which can easily be obtained from the diet. Many supplements contain in excess of 5000mcg / day and this dose is generally considered safe although a question has been raised about the safety of higher doses. Possible signs of biotin overdose include slower release of insulin, skin rashes, lower vitamin C and B6 levels and high blood sugar levels. There are also claims of acne particularly in those with a previous history of the condition.

Whilst biotin deficiency can cause hair loss, it is more likely that your hair loss may be due to another pathology. Biotin supplementation may help to increase elasticity particularly if your hair loss is due to breakage. Be cautious of taking high doses which could be potentially harmful and unnecessary.

Nicola Hemsley AIT
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Nicola Hemsley
Southernhay Clinic 
4 Barnfield Crescent
Tel: 01392 430115
Mob: 07841 237888

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