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Skincare Chemistry: Biotin

Skincare Chemistry 3: Biotin

Upon first glance, the word biotin looks like it involves something for life or living. This is true to an extent as healthy skin and nails are the most outward signs to show and represent your health.  As stated, this week we will be looking at the magical chemical that is biotin and its effects on the health of your hair and skin.

Biotin is an essential vitamin in your body, typically obtained through your diet and supplements. Also called Vitamin B7, or Vitamin H in a more old-fashioned term, this vitamin helps convert the carbs, fats, and proteins in your food into energy that your body can use. This includes the growth of hair and production of new skin cells.

While it’s typically associated with hair and skin growth, its actual effectiveness and its chemical interactions are still up for discussion and scientific study. It’s thought that biotin interacts with keratin, the structure of your hair and nails. It’s interactions for the skin are less clear, but most likely helps by maintaining oil glands in the skin.

Importance of biotin in the body

What biotin does in the body is mostly to aid in processing the energy found in food into energy for the body.  One of the most important of the eight forms of biotin, called D-Biotin, is primarily involved metabolizing the fats, proteins, and carbs into energy. 

Nutritionally, biotin is regularly available across a variety of food groups. Foods such as eggs and salmon, peanuts and sweet potato, and even cheese have notable levels of biotin that can fulfill the daily recommended intake of 30-100 micrograms (mcg) for adults. There is even the option to take biotin supplements, which has 5,000-10,000mcg per dose.

The reason why biotin is necessary through our diet is because humans cannot naturally produce biotin on our own. Instead, our gut bacteria break down the food that we eat to extract biotin, along with other vitamins and minerals. The biotin that is found in supplement form is D-Biotin, which is naturally occurring and is typically obtained through the fermentation of biotin-rich plants.

Since biotin is classified under the B-vitamin group, this means that it and other B-vitamins are water-soluble and any excess of biotin will be excreted from the body.  An overconsumption of biotin, while rare and difficult due to its water-solubility, presents itself with symptoms of insomnia, excessive thirst, and urination.

Biotin’s wide availability across many foods make biotin deficiency exceptionally rare, but still possible. This deficiency can be caused by genetic disorders, such as biotinidase deficiency, or the overconsumption of avidin in foods like raw egg whites, which binds to and inhibits biotin’s function. Symptoms of biotin deficiency may include skin rashes and brittle hair, as well as hallucinations and muscle pain.

How biotin helps your hair and skin

Brittle hair and skin issues aren’t something to be too worried about if the cause is from biotin deficiency, as it is a rare phenomenon and fairly easy to restore back to normal levels. Biotin interacts positively with skin and hair that allows for them to be healthy and strong. Research into biotin’s role for hair and skin is still ongoing.

One of the first things to find while searching for healthier hair or fuller hair growth is usually a recommendation for biotin. An increased intake of biotin may help promote hair growth and improve your hair health. Hair that has thinned out may see an increase in shine, volume, and scalp coverage.

This new growth in hair is likely due to biotin’s effect of stimulating keratin production. Keratin is the structure of your hair and nails, meaning an increase in keratin production will help if your hair and nails are brittle.

While skin health the first thing to associate with biotin, there may be some benefits to your skin’s overall appearance. The energy that is produced through the chemical interactions of biotin during digestion will allow your skin to replenish itself at a steady and effective rate. Additionally, there may be some interactions with biotin in helping reduce acne. 

Acne is formed when pores and hair follicles become plugged and clogged with oil and dead skin cells. Biotin’s ability to process and metabolize fats and lipids may have some effect in reducing acne. A topical application of biotin by itself isn’t effective enough to help your skin, but works well when paired with other acne-fighting ingredients and skin treatments. 

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