As health and wellness buzzwords go, biotin might not quite have attained the ranks of CBD, turmeric or - dare we say it - collagen. But the chances are you’ve heard of it, and some of you probably already know you need it. But why do we need it, and where can we get it from? Today we’re delving into all things biotin and exploring the various benefits this essential stuff can bring.
What is biotin?
Biotin is also known as Vitamin B-7, and it’s part of the vitamin B group. It gets its name from the Greek word ‘biotos’, which means ‘life’, and as that name reflects, it’s an essential vitamin that helps our bodies convert the food we eat into the energy we need to function in our day-to-day lives. It does this by helping enzymes break down the proteins, fats and carbohydrates in our food.
As well as this crucial energy release function, biotin also helps maintain healthy hair, skin and mucous membranes, as well as supporting major systems in your body, such as your nervous system and metabolism. If you’re a diabetes sufferer, biotin helps to regulate your blood sugar levels and manage your symptoms. In pregnancy, it’s also an important nutrient that helps the embryo grow.
Biotin is soluble in water, which means our bodies can’t store reserves of it. However, we don’t need very much of it, and we generally get the biotin we need from food - which we’ll come onto shortly. It’s also produced naturally in your gut.
What are the benefits of biotin?
Biotin is an essential vitamin given its importance in maintaining our energy and general vitality. But its benefits go beyond this basic function, and one of the main things biotin has garnered attention for is its support for your hair.
Although more research is needed to understand the role of biotin in hair health, what we do know is that it stimulates keratin production - and keratin is the protein that your hair is made from. It’s thought to increase the rate of follicle growth, which makes it a popular supplement for those suffering from thinning hair caused by a biotin deficiency.
What’s more, keratin is present in your nails and skin, which is why biotin is also touted as beneficial for these. Again, more research is needed in this area, but a Journal of Drugs in Dermatology study in 2007 suggested that a 2.5mg daily dose of biotin improves brittle nails. Not only that, but it’s also thought to improve cognitive function, reduce inflammation and boost levels of ‘good’ cholesterol (while lowering the bad stuff).
It’s important to note that the small number of studies into biotin so far suggest that it’s only likely to make a big difference to the hair, nails and skin of those who have a biotin deficiency, and this is rare. There are a number of potential symptoms of biotin deficiency, which include thinner hair, brittle nails, a red and scaly rash around the eyes, nose and mouth, and skin and eye infections. You’re more likely to be biotin deficient if you’re living with alcoholism, you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or you have a chronic health condition that makes it harder for your body to absorb nutrients.
Where can I find biotin?
As we touched on earlier, biotin is soluble in water, so it’s not something that our bodies can store up reserves of. Instead, we get the biotin we need simply from eating a normal, balanced diet.
Of course, there are certain foods you can eat more of if you’d like to increase your biotin intake. These include eggs, pork, salmon, sweet potato, liver, nuts, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, bananas, mushrooms and whole grains. It’s worth noting that you’ll get more biotin from raw foods, as cooking and other food processing techniques can knock out biotin’s good effects.
You can also up your biotin intake with some of our advanced collagen supplements, which give you the added hair, skin and nail benefits that come from harnessing the power of collagen. Our tasty Complete Collagen sachets contain 100% of your recommended daily allowance of biotin, while you’ll also find it in our Collagen Shots and our Collagen Cordial. That means that however you like to get your daily collagen fix, you can get the biotin you need at the same time.
Other beauty tips and tricks to support healthy hair
While there’s more research needed into ways in which biotin helps maintain healthy hair, there’s plenty more you can be doing to keep your hair and scalp in great condition. For example:
-Protein, found in foods such as meat, fish, eggs and beans
-Nuts, such as Brazil nuts, almonds and pecans, to provide a source of zinc, which helps stop your hair from shedding
-Omega 3, found in foods such as fish, yogurt and flax seed, which helps improve your scalp health
Try a silk pillowcase - ending on a luxurious note, a silk pillowcase feels amazing to sleep on, but also helps protect your hair by causing less friction
Here at Proto-col, we like to get our biotin allowance in alongside our daily collagen fix for even greater health benefits for our hair and lots more besides. If you’d like to read more about how collagen can help you maintain gorgeous healthy hair, have a read of our piece on the science behind Proto-col and see the incredible results you could look forward to. After that, narrow down your options using our quick guide to finding the right collagen products for you.