Hair loss has always been a perplexing problem for patients. Lately hair loss has received increased media attention regarding its causes and effective treatments. Of particular interest are the potential complications of Biotin, the primary component of many over the counter popular hair, skin and nails supplements.
Join Dr. Erickson in this Q&A to answer questions about how to safely treat hair loss.
What is Biotin anyway?
Biotin, otherwise known as Vitamin B7, is an essential nutrient involved in many of the body’s metabolic processes. Biotin is found in foods including egg yolks, beans, nuts, seeds, milk, and bananas. Most people easily meet the recommended daily amount of biotin (30mcg )without supplementation. Biotin deficiency, which is very rare, can present with hair loss, so many over the counter supplements promising to regrow hair include hefty amounts (5,000 – 10,000mcg) of biotin.
Does taking Biotin help with hair loss?
If your hair loss is due to biotin deficiency, then biotin supplementation to correct that deficiency can help. However this is rarely the case. In the absence of true Biotin deficiency, biotin supplementation has not been shown to effectively treat hair loss.
What are the risks of taking too much Biotin?
The problem with excessive amounts of Biotin is that it can distort important lab test results, and in some cases, this can be a deadly error. One of the most concerning issues is that Biotin can artificially lower troponin levels. Elevated troponin levels are used to diagnose cardiac arrest, so falsely low levels can cause a heart attack to be missed. This happened with a gentleman who presented to the ER with chest pain. He was having a heart attack, but due to Biotin supplementation his troponin levels were not elevated. His heart attack was missed and he died. This tragic example prompted a study evaluating troponin levels in 6 patients who took 10,000mcg of biotin daily for 1 week. 40% of the troponin levels were altered in the study group. Other concerns involve high doses of Biotin leading to incorrect diagnoses of Graves disease in kids and adults. For these reasons, I do not recommend taking any supplements with 5,000mcg or more of Biotin.
What vitamins will help hair loss?
The best way to obtain hair helping vitamins is through a healthy diet. Foods rich in Vitamin D, Zinc, B12, iron and Omega-3 fatty acids provide essential nutrients for hair growth.
We often check for certain vitamin deficiencies as part of a hair loss work up and will recommend supplementation based upon those results.
Are there any supplements that are safe and effective for hair loss?
We recommend supplements with results backed by clinical trials. In our practice, we recommend Nutrafol supplements for multiple types of hair loss. Nutrafol has been shown to be effective and safe in clinical trials, and we have seen great results. We do not recommend any supplement with 5,000mcg or higher of Biotin due to concerns about dangerous changes to lab results.
It’s important for you to discuss your hair loss with your Dermatologist as there are many causes and additional testing may be needed to design your most successful treatment regimen.