Biotin for Men: Hair Loss, Beard Growth and Skin

biotin for men

Biotin for men is a necessary cofactor for carboxylase enzymes, which are activated as soon as they are combined together by holocarboxylase synthase.

These enzyme complexes play an important role in many metabolic processes, including gluconeogenesis, fatty acid synthesis, and amino acid catabolism [1].

The Role of Biotin in the Body

white three oval capsules of biotin for men on yellow canvas
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The function of biotin in protein synthesis and, more specifically, in keratin production explains its contribution to healthy nail and hair growth. Biotin is found in many foods and is also produced by normal intestinal flora. Foods high in biotin include nuts, legumes, whole grains, brown rice, and egg yolk [2].

Recommended daily allowances for biotin for men have not been accurately established due to a lack of sufficient evidence. However, Adequate Intake Levels have been recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Food and Nutrition Board as 30 mcg for adult men and women, 25 mcg for adolescents 14-18, 20 mcg for children 9-13 years old, 15 mcg for children 4- 8 years.

It has been estimated that in Western populations, the typical dietary intake of biotin is 35 to 70 mcg/day, so its deficiency is rare. Despite the rarity of symptomatic biotin deficiency, pregnancy is a clinical condition of particular concern regarding biotin status.

For example, one study showed that marginal biotin deficiency occurs spontaneously in a significant proportion of women during normal pregnancies and suggested that a biotin intake of 2–3 times the recommended 30 mcg is likely necessary to meet pregnancy requirements [21, 22].

Causes of Deficiency of Biotin for Men

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Biotin deficiency can be acquired or congenital. The commonly documented cause of acquired biotin deficiency is associated with increased consumption of raw eggs. The avidin protein found in raw egg whites can be denatured during cooking, but in raw form, this protein binds tightly to biotin, preventing its use as a major cofactor [3].

Patients taking anticonvulsant drugs such as valproic acid may also be deficient and are therefore given prophylactic biotin [4]. Additional causes of acquired biotin deficiency include alcoholism or pregnancy, other medications such as isotretinoin [4], intestinal malabsorption, or prolonged use of antibiotics that disrupt the normal intestinal microflora [5, 6, 7].

Congenital or genetic deficiency of biotin for men is caused by an autosomal recessive trait that leads to the lack of enzymes necessary for biotin to perform its functions. Either holocarboxylase synthase or biotinidase. When it occurs within the first 6 weeks of life, this deficiency is defined as the neonatal type.

In this type of biotin deficiency, the enzyme holocarboxylase synthetase is absent, and patients usually have severe, life-threatening conditions [5, 8, 9]. After 3 months of life, the infantile form prevails, determined by a deficiency of biotinidase, which is involved in the absorption of free biotin after degradation of carboxylase [5, 8].

Acquired or congenital, typical symptoms of biotin deficiency include alopecia (baldness), eczematous skin eruptions, seborrheic dermatitis, conjunctivitis, and multiple neurological symptoms such as depression, lethargy, hypotension, and seizures [2, 10].

While neurological symptoms occur with more severe levels of biotin deficiency, dermatological manifestations often appear first and are, therefore, an important indicator [11].

The normal concentration of biotin in blood plasma ranges from 400 to 1200 ng / l. Technically, a deficiency is considered to be less than 200 ng / l. However, plasma biotin levels can fluctuate on a daily basis and are therefore not considered a sensitive marker.

A more validated measure of biotin deficiency is increased urinary excretion of the metabolite 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid (normal level: 195 μmol / 24 h).

Biotin for Hair and Nails

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A review of biotin use for hair loss from several years ago [12] summarized data from 18 studies that showed improved hair and nail growth with supplementation in patients with known biotin deficiency.

Of all the cases reported in the literature, all patients who received biotin supplements had some underlying pathology associated with either poor hair or nail growth. In addition, clinical improvement was observed in all cases after taking biotin.

The time to improvement as well as the dosage of administration varied in each case. In 10 out of 18 cases, patients with hereditary enzyme deficiencies of either biotinidase or holocarboxylase synthetase were reported. Of these 10 cases, 8 reported alopecia, which subsequently resolved after several months of taking biotin supplements. In addition, 3 cases of unkempt hair syndrome were reported, all of which showed improved hair quality after several months of treatment.

In addition, 3 cases of brittle nail syndrome were recorded, which were treated with high doses of biotin – 2500 or 3000 mcg per day, and each case showed an improvement in nail strength and growth.

For patients with hereditary enzyme deficiencies, high doses of biotin supplements (10,000 to 30,000 mcg/day) are recommended. Those with brittle nail syndrome and other underlying hair conditions such as unkempt hair syndrome require much lower doses of biotin supplements in the range of 300 to 3000 mcg/day. Although such figures, in any case, are many times higher than the norms of adequate consumption.

Despite the positive results of therapy, no randomized controlled trials have been conducted to prove the effectiveness of biotin supplementation in normal, healthy people. Moreover, only in 1 case was the biotin level measured in normal people who complained of hair loss. In this study, of 541 women (age range 9 to 92 years), 38% had low biotin levels [2].

However, 11% of them had a history (use of antibiotics, antiepileptic drugs, isotretinoin, or gastrointestinal tract disease), a cause of the underlying deficiency, and 35% had concomitant seborrheic dermatitis, indicating a multifactorial cause of hair loss.

Published two years ago, a review of research with the telling title “Biotin for the treatment of nail diseases: what is the evidence?” [13] summarized that “clinical trials have shown improvement in the hardness, and thickness of brittle nails with oral biotin for men.

There are several examples and series showing that oral biotin can improve frayed triangular nails, trachyonychia, and habitual teak deformities of the nails.

Usually, in the treatment of nail diseases, a dosage of 5000-10000 mcg per day is recommended for 3-6 months [14,15,16].

Safety of Biotin for Men

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High biotin intake (over 10,000 mcg per day) usually does not cause any side effects, but can lead to falsely high or falsely low laboratory test results [17].

Troponins, thyroid gland, prolactin, and pregnancy tests are some of the most frequently changed indicators that must be taken into account and reported to the attending physician if there is a need to take appropriate tests [18,19,20].

Decent biotin supplements:

  1. Glew RH, Stephen PP. Clinical studies in medical biochemistry. New York: Oxford University Press; 1987
  2. Serum Biotin Levels in Women Complaining of Hair Loss. Trüeb RM. Int J Trichology. 2016 Apr-Jun; 8(2):73-7.
  3. Skin manifestations of biotin deficiency. Mock DM. Semin Dermatol. 1991 Dec; 10(4):296-302
  4. The effect of isotretinoin on biotinidase activity. Schulpis KH, Georgala S, Papakonstantinou ED, Michas T, Karikas GA Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol. 1999 Jan-Apr; 12(1-2):28-33.
  5. Nutrition and hair.Goldberg LJ, Lenzy Y. Clin Dermatol. 2010 Jul-Aug; 28(4):412-9.
  6. Nutrition and hair: deficiencies and supplements. Finner AM. Dermatol Clin. 2013 Jan; 31(1):167-72.
  7. Biotin and biotinidase deficiency.Zempleni J, Hassan YI, Wijeratne SS. Expert Rev Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Nov 1; 3(6):715-724
  8. Nutritional deficiency and the skin. Miller SJ. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1989 Jul; 21(1):1-30.
  9. Inborn errors of biotin metabolism. Nyhan WL. Arch Dermatol. 1987 Dec; 123(12):1696-1698a
  10. Biotinidase deficiency – clinching the diagnosis rapidly can make all the difference! Rajendiran A, Sampath S. BMJ Case Reports. 2011;2011 pii:bcr0720114494. doi 10.1136/bcr.07.2011.4494
  11. Proliferation and differentiation of cultured human follicular keratinocytes are not influenced by biotin. Limat A, Suormala T, Hunziker T, Waelti ER, Braathen LR, Baumgartner R Arch Dermatol Res. 1996; 288(1):31-8.
  12. A Review of the Use of Biotin for Hair Loss. Deepa P Patel, Shane M Swink, Leslie Castelo-Soccio.Skin Appendage Disord . 2017 Aug;3(3):166-169.
  13. Biotin for the treatment of nail disease: what is the evidence? Shari R Lipner, Richard K Scher. J Dermatolog Treat . 2018 Jun;29(4):411-414.
  14. Treatment of brittle fingernails with biotin. Floersheim GL. Z Hautkr. 1989;64:41–48.
  15. Treatment of brittle fingernails and onychoschizia with biotin: scanning electron microscopy. Colombo VE, Gerber F, Bronhofer M, Floersheim GL.J Am Acad Dermatol. 1990; 23 (6 Pt 1):1127–1132.
  16. Brittle nails: response to daily biotin supplementation. Cutis. 1993;51:303–305. Hochman LG, Scher RK, Meyerson MS.
  17. Administration USFaD. Biotin (vitamin B7): Safety communication – may interfere 154 with lab tests. In: 11/28/2017, ed.
  18. Rethinking biotin therapy for hair, nail, and skin disorders. Lipner SR. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2018;78:1236–1238.
  19. What’s new in nail disorders. Maddy AJ, Tosti A. Dermatol Clin. 2019;37:143–147.
  20. Assessment of biotin interference with qualitative point-of-care hCG test devices. Williams GR, Cervinski MA, Nerenz RD. Clin Biochem. 2018;53:168–170.
  21. Marginal biotin deficiency is common in normal human pregnancy and is highly teratogenic in mice. Mock DM. J Nutr. 2009 Jan; 139(1):154-7
  22. Pregnancy and lactation alter biomarkers of biotin metabolism in women consuming a controlled diet. Perry CA, West AA, Gayle A, Lucas LK, Yan J, Jiang X, Malysheva O, Caudill MA. J Nutr. 2014 Dec; 144(12):1977-84.

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