Tuesday, October 19

Is it bad to take biotin supplements for hair and nail loss?


Jordi, reader and partner of eldiario.es, writes us the following text in an email: “I would like you to talk about biotin-based supplements. I started taking them about ten years ago when my hair fell out a lot for a while and the dermatologist told me that there was a drug called Strong Medebiotin that supplemented possible deficiencies of biotin and it cut hair loss. I tried it and it worked very well, so I keep taking a pill every day and at 50 I wouldn’t say I have hair, but I am the envy of many friends … But now I have read that these supplements can have side effects and I have been concerned. I would appreciate clarification. ”

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What is biotin

The biotin, also known as vitamin H or B7According to the nomenclature, it is a heat-stable vitaminic acid, soluble in alcohol and water, and highly oxidizable, which plays a decisive role in the metabolism of sugars, fats, amino acids and purines. Hence, it is considered vital, and even more so if we take into account that we cannot synthesize it.

If it is in low plasma levels, can cause dermatitis and alopecia, as well as brittle nails among other problems. However, it is difficult to have a biotin deficiency, unlike other vitamins, because it is very present in many foods and also the amounts required are low: over 200 micrograms in children and over 300 micrograms in adults.

The egg yolk, nuts, fish, organ meats, etc., contain abundant biotin. On the other hand, some studies suggest that a significant amount of our biotin requirements come from the microbiota or intestinal flora, where various bacteria synthesize it so that it is absorbed by our intestines. From this it can be deduced that the biotin deficit could only occur in the event that we had a significant alteration of the microbiota, perhaps derived from irritable bowel syndrome or some other autoimmune disorder, and that our diet was also very deficient.

Do Biotin Supplements Work?

For these cases, biotin supplements are prescribed, which in fact in the common people can reinforce the production of keratin and hair. It is normal that while taking these supplements the hair grows faster and even in places where it was weak until now, and so do the nails. Nevertheless, according to the prestigious North American magazine Consumer Reports, a reference in the sector, Biotin supplements have not been shown to date to be effective in preventing or reversing alopecia.

That is to say that although they strengthen the hair, they cannot stop its fall, due to the death of the follicle, not to its vigor in the production of hair protein. In this way, we should clarify to Jordi, with the data we have in hand, that his “hair” is surely due to his genetics more than supplements and that since it is not ruled out that the stress caused by hair loss feeds back alopecia, surely the drug once had a positive placebo effect by eliminating tension.

Do they have side effects?

On the other hand, Consumer Reports also warns that these supplements provide 5,000 micrograms per dose, which is 15 times the dose needed for metabolism, which creates an excess of plasma biotin with unknown consequences. At the moment it has only been possible to certify that excess biotin can mask serious problems in certain blood tests, according to the aforementioned publication, which recommends informing the doctor about the intake of this supplement before undergoing an analysis.

For its part, the Ministry of Health, through the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products, ensures in the technical data sheet of Strong Medebiotin that our body is perfectly capable of eliminatinghalf of the dose in unchanged form of the compound and the other half in by-products, without any type of poisoning due to excess ingestion having been described. Nor does he report adverse effects.

A health website points to problems of overeating of the fetus or baby in the case of pregnant or lactating women, but the technical data sheet of the drug rules them out completely, inferring that it is a perfectly metabolizable substance. There is also no reference to studies that indicate that in the long term it can cause infertility problems in women.

So we could tell Jordi that he should not worry about the effects of the Biotin supplement although in case of blood tests, you should advise the doctor order it or directly stop taking it during the previous days.

Overall, it seems that it does nothing, neither for better nor for worse. And applying common sense, advise you to stop taking it, at least for your pocket, because as Consumer Reports assures, we don’t need biotin supplements.

But if you want to keep taking them or buy them to try, here you go some products to choose.

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