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Biotin is a cheap supplement that has been marketed as a potential cure for baldness in men and women alike. Do medical investigations support these claims or is it just a ploy by big pharmaceutical companies to make some easy money from desperate people.

With age, our bodies begin to degrade: our bones get weak, our stamina fades, and even hair follicles weaken to the point of not being able to sustain hair anymore. Hair loss is far more likely to happen in the male population than the female group, and we are unlucky enough to lose hair typically on the top of our skulls while retaining the hair around the circumference of our ears. This type of hair loss is a condition called male pattern baldness, and it is not just embarrassing for males to deal with, it is also prevalent. In one retrospective study analyzing the prevalence of this male pattern baldness, researchers determined that in adult males between the ages of 18 to 49, 42 percent of respondents suffered from male pattern baldness. As you may suspect, this is a problem that worsens with age: 

  • males between the ages of 18 to 29 experienced significant hair loss in only 16 percent of cases,
  • while those between 30 and 49 had rates closer to 54 percent. [1

Numerous hair loss treatments exist on the market that can try to help men restore their hairlines. Some of the more common therapies in this industry would be hair transplants or testosterone-lowering medications to try to help hair follicles regenerate, but they come with side effects that could be less than desirable for patients [2]. Another potential treatment circulating the medical community would be using Biotin for hair growth. 

In this article, we will explore the effects of Biotin supplement and see if it is a feasible method to help slow down this process. 

What is Biotin? 

Biotin is an essential cofactor that our body needs to perform many chemical reactions in our body to function and live properly. We are unable to produce this ourselves, so we need to take in biotin through our diet or additional supplementation. [3] Biotin is most effective as a free moving compound in our body, but it can be trapped by numerous proteins to make it less efficient. Studies show that people who routinely consume raw egg whites are at the highest risk for biotin deficiency because the protein found in egg whites, Avidin, naturally binds to biotin and makes it inactive. [4]  Deficiencies are rare but serious, and patients are at risk for seizures, balance problems, hair loss and mental retardation if they do not have sufficient levels of this compound [5]. 

Luckily, biotin is a compound that is found in many different foods so it should be straightforward for any patient to consume enough dietary biotin to offset any issue with biotin deficiency. Some of the foods discovered to have the highest levels of biotin in them would be chicken livers, beef livers, eggs, almonds and sunflower seeds. In the event you are a picky eater or not ready to start eating something as exotic as beef or chicken livers, most of the foods that we have in our average diet have small amounts of biotin, and that should add up during the day. 

It is currently recommended for patients to ingest at least 60 micrograms of biotin daily. We should be able to meet this quota by lunchtime if we eat healthy and balanced meals. [6]

Will it Help Prevent Hair Loss? 

Now that we know a little something about what biotin actually is, can we consider it to be an effective hair loss treatment

In one investigation, the use of biotin for hair growth was observed to see if it could be useful for restoring hair follicles. In this study, ten patients were treated with biotin supplementation in comparison to five patients in a control group receiving just a placebo. Both groups were measured for six months to determine if balding improved with the medication. 

The researchers determined that during the study[7]: 

  • Hair follicle density in the control group changed from 256 follicles to 245 and 242 follicles at the three and six-month check-point. 
  • In comparison, in the biotin treated group, women started with nearly 271 follicles and improved to 571 and 609 follicles by the end of the study. 

This study showed a statistically significant difference between the two populations.   However, even if the results look very promising, one of the significant limitations to this study is the fact that there were very few patients that were analyzed so we may be drawing inaccurate conclusions without a little more investigating. 

In another investigation, researchers observed male pattern baldness, and 30 patients were analyzed this time. Even if this is still a small number, it is much better than 15 participants noted in our previous study. In this investigation, males were given biotin to determine if there was a sufficient response with biotin. What was discovered was pretty surprising. Patients that had a biotin deficiency greatly benefited when they supplemented with biotin. As you may remember from the first section, one of the symptoms of biotin deficiency is baldness, so you are alleviating this when you supplement with biotin. In patients that did have normal levels of baseline biotin, researchers determined that there was no effect of biotin supplementation and the regrowth of hair follicles. [8]

In one last investigation looking more in depth at the benefits of biotin use on the female population, researchers determined that there may be another underlying reason why women from our first study found benefits from biotin in the first place. This study found that about 40 percent of women in the population of a study were experiencing hair loss had an underlying biotin deficiency. When these women were given supplemental biotin, there was the same anticipated hair growth that we saw in the male population study. [9]

All in all, based on our investigation, it seems that biotin for hair growth will work, only in certain circumstances. If you have an underlying biotin deficiency, you will be able to benefit from using this supplement and see an increase in the number of hair follicles on your skull. Unfortunately, we have found that Biotin supplementation is not a valid hair loss treatment for the masses because the supplements do not help those without a biotin deficiency. 

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