Can biotin help your hair grow?

Is this vitamin the key to growing healthy hair quickly? Our experts weigh in.

11 April 2016
by Chisanga Mukuka

A head full of thick, long and – most importantly – healthy hair is something we would all like to know the secret to. If you’re familiar with hair blogs and forums, then you will have heard about biotin, the supplement that many are claiming to be responsible for rapid growth and revitalised hair lines – and you may be thinking of trying it yourself. 

But before you stock up on a year’s supply, read on and find out what the experts have to say about this trending supplement.

What exactly is biotin?

Biotin belongs to the B-complex group of vitamins and is also known as Vitamin H. As a B-vitamin, biotin’s main function is helping to process food for energy and fat production, and it is also known to support the health of the skin, hair eyes and liver. “Biotin is often recommended for strengthening hair and nails, and it is found in many cosmetic products for this purpose,” explains Zikhona Spelman, the nutrition consultant at Wellbeing Academy and author of the book, Nutrition Demystified. 

Spelman emphasizes, however, that there is very little proof that biotin supplements improve hair growth: “The clinical evidence to support this claim is actually limited and requires further research, but there is substantial evidence suggesting that low levels of biotin in your body can contribute to hair loss.” 

According to Spelman, biotin deficiencies are quite rare since the body naturally produces biotin and is also found in foods such as egg yolks, soya beans, pork, and nuts such as almonds and peanuts. “Biotin deficiency is found mostly in those who have been fed intravenously for extended periods, and in people who consume diets high in raw egg whites, as this contains avidin, a protein that interferes with the body’s ability to absorb biotin.”

Who can benefit from biotin?

While Spelman’s take on biotin’s merits as a miracle growth supplement isn’t encouraging to those hoping to grow hair overnight, it is very useful information if, like aesthetic therapist and beauty blogger Tendai Ngorima, you’re looking for an effective hair loss treatment. 

Tendai first learnt about biotin while studying and decided to try it after experiencing hair loss as a side effect of medication. “It didn't take very long to notice a difference: within the first month my nails were stronger and growing faster. After about three months, my hair was shedding less and felt healthier.”

A caution

Although supplements containing biotin are readily available over the counter, Spelman recommends first seeking professional medical advice before including one in your diet. “Some medicines and supplements interfere with one another, so I would encourage those experiencing hair loss to consult with a healthcare professional to establish the cause and a suitable treatment.”  

Both Spelman and Ngorima agree that growing healthy hair requires patience and that the best way to ensure that your hair is in good condition is to focus on a balanced diet and include supplements only when deemed necessary by a health professional such as a Clicks pharmacist

Shop online at Clicks.co.za for biotin

If you'd prefer the convenience of purchasing your biotin online, go here for Vitaforce Biotin tablets and GNC Biotin supplements.

IMAGE CREDIT: 123rf.com