Can biotin help with help growth? Is it good for men’s baldness and is it good to reverse hair loss?
We think that we have the answer to these questions.
Biotin is a B vitamin often recommended for hair health. Since biotin deficiency can lead to thinning of the hair, proponents claim that taking biotin supplements—in pill or tablet form—or using biotin-enriched shampoo and hair products can thicken hair and stimulate hair and nail growth.
Health Benefits of Biotin
Biotin is an essential vitamin—meaning that your body needs this micronutrient to function properly. The biotin you consume in foods helps your body to turn the food you eat (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) into energy.
Taking a biotin supplement is likely effective for treating biotin deficiency.
But many health products boost other health claims related to biotin supplement consumption and many of these health benefits have not been supported by scientific evidence.
While biotin has proven benefits for hair growth in people with biotin deficiencies, it doesn’t have any effect on male pattern baldness.
MPB (male pattern baldness) is hormonal and genetic, and biotin, like a vitamin, simply isn’t involved in the male balding process.
Biotin is one of several vitamins that play a role in the growth of healthier, thicker hair.
It’s also one of the only natural hair loss treatments backed up by science, with study data showing that the use of biotin produces a significant increase in hair growth in people with a deficiency.
Over the last few years, biotin grew hugely in popularity and the number of hair products that include biotin has gone from few to many.
Data from Google Trends shows that twice as many people are searching for information about biotin today as in 2004.
Does biotin work as a treatment for male pattern baldness?
Well, not quite. While biotin has real benefits for hair growth, it doesn’t treat the root causes of male pattern baldness — genetics and hormones.
Below, we’ll explain how male pattern baldness occurs, how biotin affects hair growth, and why biotin isn’t necessary for treating male hair loss.
We’ll also take a quick look at the real value of biotin and how it can fit into a supplement stack for improving your hair health.
How baldness happens, and why biotin won’t help on its own
Male pattern baldness can take several forms, from a receding hairline to diffuse thinning across your crown or entire scalp.
With a few exceptions, the key cause is always the same: sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone, more commonly known as DHT.
DHT is a byproduct of testosterone. When your body produces testosterone, a small amount is converted into DHT.
This DHT can bind to receptors in your scalp and cause the hair follicles to deteriorate over time, resulting in a receding hairline or thinning hair.
Because the hair follicles at the front and crown of your scalp have the most receptors, they’re usually the first to be affected by hair loss.
Everyone has a different sensitivity level to DHT.
This is why some men start to go bald early in life while others maintain a full hairline as they age. If you’re sensitive to DHT, you’ll eventually start to lose your hair regardless of your diet and vitamin consumption.
If you’ve noticed your hairline starting to recede or your hair beginning to thin, it’s probably (but not definitely) the result of sensitivity to DHT.
Since biotin is a vitamin, it doesn’t have any effect on the conversion of testosterone to DHT.
It does, however, have a proven positive effect on hair growth, making it a useful addition to your hair growth supplement stack when used alongside something to block DHT.
Biotin can stop hair loss, but only if it’s caused by biotin deficiency
There’s only one circumstance in which biotin is effective at stopping hair loss: if you’re deficient in biotin.
Biotin deficiency is a very rare condition, meaning it probably isn’t the primary cause of your hair loss.
On average, one person per 137,400 has a biotinidase deficiency, with symptoms usually observed within the first few months of life.
The symptoms of a biotin deficiency usually extend beyond hair loss.
People that lack enough biotin often have red, scaly skin around their eyes, nose, mouth, and genitals. Other symptoms include seizures, lethargy, numb hands and feet, hallucinations and depression.
One potential indicator for biotin deficiency is weak, brittle nails that crack easily.
Low levels of biotin are also associated with a poor appetite.
In short, biotin deficiency is extremely rare among healthy, well-nourished adults.
However, it’s surprisingly common among pregnant women. Data shows that about half of pregnant women have a marginal biotin deficiency.
As a general rule, you shouldn’t worry about biotin contributing to your hair loss. Biotin-related hair loss is extremely rare in men, making it much more likely that your hair loss is caused by a genetic and hormonal factor.
This doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to supplement with biotin
Biotin deficiency probably isn’t the cause of your hair loss, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea to take a biotin supplement.
Double-blind studies show that biotin is effective at helping people with thinning hair speed up and increase the rate of hair growth.
Interestingly, most studies on biotin are carried out on women, meaning the effects might not be the same for men.
Anecdotally, we’ve found that most people don’t eat foods rich in biotin consistently, making supplementation a good idea for both men and women.
While biotin doesn’t have many nutrient interactions, it’s still worth talking to your doctor before starting biotin if you currently take prescription medication.
One important fact to remember is that biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that needs to be taken orally to be effective.
This means that biotin you see in some hair growth shampoos is unlikely to have any real effect on the thickness and strength of your hair.
Is biotin essential for preventing male hair loss?
In short, no. While biotin has proven benefits for hair growth in people with biotin deficiencies, it doesn’t have any effect on male pattern baldness.
MPB is hormonal and genetic, and biotin, like a vitamin, simply isn’t involved in the male balding process.
While there’s no harm in adding biotin to your hair supplement stack, it isn’t going to stop or slow down your hair loss. To do this, you’ll need to look into finasteride and minoxidil.
Like we said above, this doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to supplement with biotin. Since biotin has real benefits for hair growth, it’s still worth taking.
Just don’t expect it to regrow your hairline and reverse male pattern baldness.
Read More: 10 Home Remedies for Hair Loss
Possible Side Effects
Biotin supplements can cause problems if you ingest too much. Side effects can include skin rashes, digestive upset, problems with insulin release, and kidney problems.
According to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, biotin treatment was said to interfere with laboratory tests and mimic Graves’ disease.
As with any supplement, the safety of long-term or high-dose use isn’t known.
Food sources of biotin (in micrograms per 100 grams) include:
- Egg yolk (53)
- Oats (27.0)
- Wheat germ (17.0)
- White mushrooms (16)
- Spinach (6.9)
- Cheese, brie (6.2)
- Milk (3.5)
- Pork (5.0)
- Carrot (5.0)
- Apple (4.5)
- Tomato (4.0)
- Beef (3.0)
- Chicken (2.0)
- Lettuce (1.9)
Conclusion: Taking a biotin supplement will help you with your hair. It is not the only factor that helps with hair growth and it can’t help with men’s boldness.
Taking this vitamin as a supplement will not harm you but before consuming it is good to consult your doctor first.