If you’ve ever had skin problems, you may have been told that a more balanced diet could save you a lot of trouble.
One of the reasons why skin diseases are so prevalent in our daily lives is that the importance of good nutrition is not always well understood.
Moreover, the skin is not the only element of your body whose nutritional needs are not respected, which opens the door to dysfunctions. Keratin organs, to name a few, are also among those that don’t hesitate to let you know when you are in a malnutrition situation.
Brittle nails and hair loss are the most common consequences.
Fortunately, engineers are now able, thanks to the latest advances in scientific research, to provide a supportive solution to these problems: biotin-based food supplements.
Why biotin? What is it about? How does this element help you in your effort to regulate your nutrition?
The MyPureSkin team reveals the reasons for the success of this ingredient which is increasingly present in nutricosmetics.
Biotin: what is it?
Known to meet some of your body’s vital needs, biotin (also known as “vitamin B8”, “vitamin H” or “coenzyme R”) is a molecule involved in various essential processes within your body such as
- Cellular growth;
- The production of fatty acids;
- The metabolism of amino acids and fats;
- The transfer of carbon dioxide;
- The synthesis of vitamins B9 and B12.
Extracted from your environment through food, biotin is nevertheless produced in small quantities by your body.
It is more precisely the intestinal microbiota, fond of prebiotics (such as galactooligosaccharides), which is at the origin of this production.
In addition, while several molecular forms exist, only D-biotin acts as a vitamin for your body.
This not only limits the natural sources of biotin that can be incorporated into your food bowl, but also forces engineers to make informed choices about how to deliver its benefits to your body.
However, given the increasing presence of this form of biotin in certain food supplements over the last decade, one has to ask: is it really useful?
Furthermore, what effectiveness can be attributed to biotin-based food supplements? What evidence do we have of this? And are some formulas more effective than others?
In other words: why and how to choose a biotin-based nutricosmetic?
Biotin supplements: what are the effects of a deficiency?
To get the answers to these questions, it is first necessary to look at the consequences of a biotin deficiency.
Several researchers have therefore focused on the direct effects of such a situation.
As the research published by D.M. Mock’s team in 1991 1 reminds us, a lack of biotin leads to a variety of symptoms in both adults and children, the two most obvious being :
- Risks of alopecia (temporary hair loss and reduced regrowth over a longer period);
- Risks of erythematous dermatitis (skin disease characterized by hyperpigmentation as well as possible scaling and scarring).
The mechanisms of appearance of these problems can only be understood by reading the results of specific research, such as that of R. Rodriguez Meléndez, published in 2000 2, which focuses on the importance of biotin metabolism.
In his publication, Meléndez highlights that biotin is critically important at several scales, including an epigenetic level.
It is indeed involved in the mechanisms of regulation of the expression of certain genes in charge of the metabolism of carboxylase enzymes. As such, biotin is indirectly involved in the synthesis of carbohydrates.
Direct effects of biotin supplementation
The key word here is “indirectly” because although biotin is a vital substance for your health (as its qualification as a “vitamin” reminds us), it does not seem to have a direct improving effect on the quality of nails, hair and skin when there is no deficiency.
Indeed, contrary to what some speeches may lead you to believe, biotin alone is not an active ingredient capable of triggering health or beauty benefits for an individual who is not malnourished in this area.
To understand this, we need to look at some meta-analyses such as the one published in 2017 by Deepa P. Patel’s team 3 rigorously reviewing the results of 18 previous studies reporting effects of biotin-based treatments on the scalp of healthy individuals.
As the researcher reminds us, biotin deficiency in developed countries is considered rare and biotin supplementation alone cannot be considered the source of improved nail, hair and skin quality for an individual without a significant related health problem.
Indirect effects of biotin consumption
However, Patel’s meta-analysis does not take into account the indirect effects of biotin supplementation.
Indeed, it is essential to remember that vitamin B8 is involved in many mechanisms of the human body and to note that the average level of imbalance in the most common contemporary European diets is quite high.
Therefore, the benefits of supplementation are more likely to be found in the impact that the presence of biotin has on other agents such as hyaluronic acid.
Vitamin C, zinc, hyaluronic acid… biotin where you least expect it
The melting point (denaturation temperature) of biotin is 238°C. This fact is of paramount importance since it means that once ingested, it does not lose its properties under the effect of heat during the digestion process. Also, the acidity level of the digestive system at its lowest (an average of 5.7 against 7 for a neutral PH) does not destroy vitamin H.
Thus, biotin can pass into the bloodstream and be used by the cells of the body.
Moreover, it is through studies with a very specific research focus that properties have been progressively discovered that allow biotin to be considered as an active principle with a broader potential of action. Three studies have highlighted this feature:
- A study by Youichi Ogawa, published in 20194, exposing the importance of biotin in zinc metabolism;
- Research shared in 2012 by Yuan Cui 5 highlighting biotin’s ability to partner with avidin to bind hyaluronic acid and deliver it to the body (while allowing it to provide the elements attached to it);
- Work by Chunxiao Yao on the importance of vitamins C, B5 and B8 on the growth of a probiotic bacterium.
It is thanks to these amazing and multiple properties (and many other discoveries made regularly by the scientific community) that biotin has acquired the popularity it has today.
Your hair under the microscope: biotin supplements to the rescue
This popularity is particularly understandable when reading the consumer reviews of certain nutricosmetic brands targeting hair health. There is an increasing tendency to attribute to biotin benefits at the micro and macroscopic levels such as:
- Support for the rate of cell renewal of the hair follicle;
- An improvement in the structure and volume of the hair.
But the benefits would not stop there.
Vitamins and nails: biotin complex and keratin, a love story
In fact, certain food supplements based on molecular complexes (combining biotin, hyaluronic acid and other active ingredients) would clearly improve the quality of the nails: they would be less brittle (reduced fragility) but also less brittle.
When nutricosmetics gets involved: biotin in the skin
Finally, it is especially to maintain their skin that consumers of food supplements turn to biotin.
Invoked for its antioxidant activity, biotin helps nourish the skin’s defenses against free radicals.
This makes biotin an indirect way to prevent one of the sources of premature aging.
- D.M. Mock’s study of skin manifestations of biotin deficiency: https: //pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1764357/
- Research by R. Rodriguez Meléndez exploring the importance of the biotin metalosm: https: //pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10846444/
- Meta-analysis published in 2017 by researcher Deepa P. Patel’s team studying the results and protocols of previous research on the effects of biotin supplementation on individuals considered healthy: https: //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5582478/
- Youichi Ogawa’s study on the importance of biotin in zinc metabolism: https: //pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31022908/
- Research by Yuan Cui on the ability of biotin to associate with avidin and hyaluronic acid: https: //pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23179277/