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Biotin for Hair Growth: Can It Help With Hair Loss?

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Steph Coelho

Published 09/15/2017

Updated 05/27/2024

If you’ve spent any time researching hair loss solutions, you’ve probably come across more than a handful of remedies that include biotin. But what does the research say about biotin for hair growth?

While it’s not a miracle cure for balding, there’s some evidence that increasing biotin consumption could slow hair loss and support the hair growth cycle.

Below, we’ll dive into the research on biotin for hair loss, outlining the benefits, how much you need daily, whether a deficiency can lead to hair loss, potential risks, and more.

BIOTIN For Hair Growth? Jeff Wittek Gives a Fashion Mullet Haircut to Help Hide Hair Loss

Biotin is a B vitamin also known as vitamin B7. Experts sometimes refer to it as vitamin H or a coenzyme.

Like all B vitamins, the nutrient helps the body metabolize food. This means it turns carbohydrates into energy your body can use and breaks down proteins and fats.

Limited research suggests it may offer hair health benefits, including:

  • Treating biotin-deficiency-related hair loss. If you’re highly deficient in biotin and also seeing signs of hair loss, addressing the deficiency might correct hair problems.

  • Managing brittle hair. People with extremely brittle or uncombable hair can sometimes see their hair become more manageable with biotin supplementation.

  • Boosting keratin production. Unlike many other supplements for hair loss, research shows biotin plays a role in keratin production. (Keratin is the protein that makes up your hair.)

See our blog on biotin versus keratin for hair loss for more insight.

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One 2016 study published in the International Journal of Trichology found that 38 percent of people complaining of hair loss were actually biotin deficient. However, the researchers concluded that biotin supplementation shouldn’t be used unless a biotin deficiency is suspected.

Another study published in the journal Dermatology Research and Practice found that biotin supplements helped boost hair growth. It’s important to note, though, that the supplements also contained additional ingredients that may have influenced the results.

The study looked at the effects of a supplement containing biotin, a marine protein complex, zinc, and other ingredients. A total of 60 women took part, with 30 taking the supplement and 30 getting a placebo. After 90 days, the supplement appeared to decrease hair loss and increase hair growth.

The study was also funded by the company that makes the supplement used in the study. Though this doesn’t negate the findings, it is worth pointing out.

Okay, what else?

A double-blind study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology suggests that biotin can help folks with thinning hair by speeding up hair growth.

Finally, in a review published in 2017, biotin supplements were found to reverse hair loss in some people. But the researchers were quick to note that supplementation might not benefit “healthy” individuals without biotin deficiencies.

So, what are the right amounts of biotin? For adults, the adequate intake (AI) is 30 micrograms (mcg) per day.

Adequate intake is different from a recommended daily allowance (RDA). It tells you the amount that’s probably ideal for most people.

AI is used when there’s not enough research to determine an RDA for a specific nutrient.

Biotin either comes from your own body (through the natural action of intestinal bacteria) or biotin-rich food.

A balanced diet for hair will include biotin-rich foods like:

  • Egg yolks

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Carrots

  • Bananas

  • Pork

  • Yeast

  • Salmon

FYI: Cooking depletes biotin levels, so plant sources of biotin are best eaten raw if you’re concerned about increasing intake naturally.

If you’re trying to boost your consumption, you can also include biotin gummies in your daily routine.

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Your body needs biotin, but the chances you’re lacking this vitamin are low.

On average, one out of every 140,000 people has a biotin deficiency.

So since hair loss is pretty common, this tells you biotin deficiency isn’t a common cause of hair loss. And experts don’t see a widespread need to up your biotin dosage with supplements.

But biotin deficiency does happen.

Who Might Have a Biotin Deficiency

You’re more likely to have a biotin deficiency if you:

  • Regularly eat raw egg whites

  • Have alcohol use disorder (AUD)

  • Are malnourished

  • Have a gut health condition, like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

  • Have the genetic disorder biotinidase deficiency (BTD)

  • Take anti-seizure medications

  • Take retinoids

  • Have had your stomach surgically removed

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding

A note on raw egg whites and hair thinning: You would have to eat raw egg whites daily for a very long time to see biotin deficiency as a result.

An easy solution? Cooking egg whites prevents the protein avidin from blocking biotin absorption.

But again, you’re unlikely to be biotin deficient.

Signs of Biotin Deficiency

However, if you aren’t getting enough biotin, symptoms of biotin deficiency include:

  • Dry, scaly skin rash around the mouth, nose, eyes, or genitals

  • Brittle nails

  • Swollen, painful tongue

  • Loss of appetite

  • Depression

  • Insomnia

  • Hair loss

One final note: While biotin has proven benefits for hair growth in people with biotin deficiencies, it doesn’t affect female or male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia). This type of baldness is hormonal and genetic — and it can’t be treated with vitamins.

This doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to supplement with biotin. Just don’t expect it to regrow your hairline and reverse genetic hair loss.

Research supports the idea that, in people who are biotin deficient, supplementation yields healthy hair growth results.

Although biotin deficiency probably isn’t the cause of your hair loss, taking a biotin supplement might still benefit you.

Biotin isn’t known to be toxic, so taking a biotin supplement is unlikely to negatively affect your liver or other organs.

Data also show that people can safely consume biotin at much higher levels than the daily recommended amounts without creating any health problems.

However, while biotin doesn’t have many potential interactions, it’s still worth talking to your healthcare provider before starting a supplementation routine — especially if you currently take prescription medication.

One critical fact to remember is that biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that needs to be taken orally to be effective as a hair loss treatment.

This means that the biotin you see in some hair products, like shampoo, is unlikely to have any real effect on the thickness and strength of your hair.

Your body can typically excrete any excess biotin you get from food and supplements through urine.

But too much biotin can sometimes lead to side effects like:

  • Insomnia

  • Excessive thirst

  • Increased urination

There are no reported cases of serious complications from taking too much biotin.

Still, people with diabetes should be cautious with biotin supplements because they might impact blood glucose levels. Biotin can also affect lab test results, in particular, thyroid hormone panels.

If you’re taking other supplements with biotin, be aware that alpha-lipoic acid and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) can prevent your body from properly absorbing biotin — and biotin can prevent the absorption of these supplements too.

Hair loss treatments, delivered

Biotin is a key factor in keratin production, but what can biotin actually do for hair?

Here’s what to keep in mind about biotin for hair growth:

  • Biotin deficiency can lead to hair loss. It’s unlikely — though not impossible — that your hair loss is the result of a vitamin B7 deficiency.

  • Hair loss is just one sign of a biotin deficiency. Think you could be lacking this essential B​ vitamin? Consider whether you have additional symptoms like dry skin or insomnia.

  • It can help to talk to a healthcare professional. If you’re worried about biotin deficiency or hair loss, consult a healthcare professional online or see a dermatologist in person.

  • Biotin overdose is unlikely. You can safely increase your biotin intake through foods rich in biotin and with supplementation. Since this nutrient is water-soluble, your body can typically easily excrete large doses.

  • Biotin probably won’t help your hair grow, unless you’re deficient. There isn’t major evidence that biotin helps grow or preserve hair in folks with normal levels of this vitamin.

If you’re struggling with hair loss, consider FDA-approved, science-backed hair loss treatments like finasteride. This prescription medication works by inhibiting the production of 5α-reductase, an enzyme that converts your body’s testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is linked to hair loss.

Another option is minoxidil, a vasodilator that encourages blood flow (and with it, nutrients) to the areas on your scalp that need it most.

We’ve covered both of these options in more detail in our guide to minoxidil versus finasteride, including the science behind how they both work for hair loss.

9 Sources

  1. Ablon G. (2015). A 3-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the ability of an extra-strength marine protein supplement to promote hair growth and decrease shedding in women with self-perceived thinning hair. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/drp/2015/841570/
  2. Bistas KG. (2021). Biotin. https://www.statpearls.com/ArticleLibrary/viewarticle/18328
  3. Castelo-Soccio L, et al. (2017). A review of the use of biotin for hair loss. Skin appendage disorders. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5582478/
  4. Famenini S, et al. (2014). Evidence for supplemental treatments in androgenetic alopecia. https://jddonline.com/articles/evidence-for-supplemental-treatments-in-androgenetic-alopecia-S1545961614P0809X/
  5. Glynis A. (2012). A double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the efficacy of an oral supplement in women with self-perceived thinning hair. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509882/
  6. Linus Pauling Institute. (2022). Biotin. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/biotin#deficiency
  7. National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). (2019). Biotinidase deficiency. https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/biotinidase-deficiency/
  8. Trüeb RM. (2016). Serum biotin levels in women complaining of hair loss. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4989391/
  9. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of Dietary Supplements. (2022). Biotin. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Biotin-HealthProfessional/#h5
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Knox Beasley, MD

Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world. 

Dr. Beasley is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time. 

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