There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that hair loss could be a product of poor diet, and that better diet and nutrition could improve hair growth.
But could a specific vitamin B compound called biotin in diet have the same effect on your mane? Potentially.
If you’ve noticed your hair thinning or you’ve been reading up on healthier hair, you’ve likely seen biotin mentioned in discussion and on some labels. Biotin is constantly making the list of most popular ingredients in hair growth and hair care products.
Biotin’s fame isn’t based on conclusive medical evidence, but limited studies have shown enough promise that a number of products on the market brag about it as an active ingredient.
But while biotin may be found in shampoos and conditioners, dietary biotin offers a possible source for upping your numbers, particularly if you’re willing to make a few small changes to your diet to include biotin rich sources.
Before we get to that, let’s talk about what biotin is, and why some people believe it can help you grow a better head of hair.
Biotin, or vitamin B7, is a water-soluble B vitamin that’s a popular ingredient in hair growth and care products.
It’s important first to note that biotin is not an FDA-approved treatment for preventing hair loss. But there are some studies that show its efficacy in treating hair loss, especially if you happen to be biotin deficient.
We’ve covered most of this in our guide to biotin for hair growth and health, which looks at the most current research on biotin’s benefits. But the tl;dr is that the information to date is inconclusive.
Because it’s not FDA approved, there aren’t daily intake guidelines from the FDA. But the Office of Dietary Supplements suggests about 30 mcg per day for the average adult.
The thing is, because biotin is a water-soluble vitamin and your body doesn’t manufacture it for you, you do need a daily intake, as your body isn’t capable of producing or storing it itself.
So getting it through nutritional intake makes sense, if you know what to eat.
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health, foods that contain biotin typically fall into categories like organ meats, eggs, fish meat, seeds, nuts, and some vegetables.
Many of these foods contain insufficient amounts of biotin to act as a daily value supplement on their own, but some can account for a whole day’s needs.
For instance, organ meats like beef liver can deliver up to 103 percent of your daily value, but a cup of 2 percent milk would account for roughly one percent — meaning you’d have to drink roughly six and a half gallons of milk to get all your biotin that way.
Foods with substantial biotin include:
Foods with smaller amounts of biotin include:
The good news is that biotin doesn’t offer much in the way of risk and adverse effects. The ODS reports that doses of 10mg 50mg (up to 50,000 mcg) haven’t produced symptoms of toxicity. By the way, this is double the amount of biotin that’s included in our biotin gummy vitamins.
But there are other things to consider even if it’s not toxic.
Biotin has been shown to potentially interfere with certain lab tests when ingested in large doses. Biotin has been linked to inaccurate readings for lab tests used to measure certain hormone levels, including thyroid hormone.
This has resulted in some biotin users receiving test results that falsely indicate hyperthyroidism or Graves' disease.
As such, you do have to monitor your intake, particularly if you’re going to be doing blood work or other tests in the near future. If you’re taking a lot of biotin, mention it to your healthcare provider, so they can interpret tests properly.
Whether or not biotin is going to improve your hair and give you fuller, more vibrant follicles may still be under debate in the medical world, but most of the stuff mentioned on the list of biotin containing foods is also part of a healthy diet, and will contain significant amounts of other vitamins and nutrients needed for the healthy function of your organs — and the healthy production of your hair.
Foods like beef liver are also a source of vitamin D and iron. Salmon is a good source of vitamin D and calcium. Eggs and sunflower seeds are a great source of vitamin B generally.