Recent years have seen a buzz develop around biotin and collagen for improving hair quality and growth rate. You too may also be wondering how to make your hair grow faster, and if these two natural supplements are genuinely beneficial in that regard. In truth, the answer to that question is not of the definitive yes-or-no types, so let’s have a look at both of them and assess to what extent they are effective vitamins for better hair growth.
Let’s start with Biotin.
Biotin (aka Vitamin B7 or Vitamin H) is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin that is often found in foods. It’s required for cell growth in the human body, as well as for the production of fatty acids and the metabolism of amino acids and fats. It’s in a wide variety of foods – whole wheat grains and bread, rice, sardines, mushrooms, corn, almonds peanuts, leafy green vegetables, liver, chicken, raw egg yolk to name a few, and you also have the option of taking it via the best biotin supplements.
I’ll state plainly and clearly right here that Biotin itself is not helpful for strengthening hair or making it grow better. However, it does aid in hair production when working in proper conjunction with a number of other body processes and chemical building blocks. It reacts with cell enzymes to build amino acids that are then built into keratin – the protein from which your hair is made of most primarily.
Biotin does improve keratin infrastructure, but that’s still independent of the creation of the hair follicle and how well it thrives. Supplementing with biotin will improve keratin infrastructure and help hair strands grow stronger, but the health of the follicle itself being compromised may well be the source of your hair quality complaints.
Further, when considering supplementing with biotin you should be aware that because biotin, as mentioned, is a water-soluble vitamin. Because of that, any excess of it that’s not deemed ‘necessary’ by the body can be eliminated as waste. So you can dismiss the idea that flooding yourself with biotin supplements will promote an equally-prolific boost to your hair growth. It's not going to be a guaranteed solution to your quest to determine how to get healthy hair, that's for sure.
Understand as well that biotin deficiencies are extremely rare, so your being deficient in it is very likely not the cause of your complaints regarding the strength and growth rate of your hair. Any of you asking “does biotin help with hair loss” may also be disappointed to learn that biotin will not prevent any type of hair loss that is genetic in nature. In women, this most typically involves a hormonal imbalance. Addressing this imbalance will be much more likely to address hair concerns than will supplementing with biotin.
Other factors related to biotin production in the body are metabolism, daily activity level, diet, and optimal hydration levels in the body
As rare as they are – a genuine biotin deficiency can lead to hair loss, inhibited hair growth and / or brittle hair that is prone to breakage and harder to the touch. If you have a suspicion of that, note as well that a biotin deficiency will often also include these symptoms:
- Hair Loss (alopecia)
- Neurological symptoms like lethargy, depression, hallucinations, and tingling & numbness in the extremities
- Thin and brittle fingernails
- Dermatitis, most often seen as a rash around the nose, mouth, eyes, and genital area
Individuals with A blood type, severe acid reflux disorder, or GERD may have difficultly absorbing biotin from food.
As a last note on biotin before we move to collagen, there is also a prevalent belief that biotin supplementation does not promote better or more full hair growth, but that it does promote hair growing more in a more natural manner and / or with increased suppleness. The belief is that hair grows with some more of its natural characteristics. The most notable example of this is with people who have curly hair.
If you do choose to take biotin supplements (recommended dosage of biotin is 2.5mg / 2500mcg – take half with breakfast and the other half with dinner for 2 weeks), you will need to hydrate more as it can lead to skin breakouts in some people due to a resulting overabundance of pantothenic acid. A recommendation is to consume in the vicinity of 32oz of fresh water a day, as well as eat right. The body needs specific proteins, minerals, carbohydrates, and fats - the stuff found in a quality multivitamin - in order for vitamins like Biotin to have maximum effectiveness.
Collagen is a polypeptide long-chain amino acid and one of the most abundant proteins in the body. It contains a mixture of amino acids like proline and glycine, which are found in all connective tissues in the body. It serves three primary functions; giving skin elasticity, giving connective tissue its ability to keep body components firmly in place, and – most notably here – giving hair its strength.
Collagen production slows with age, and lifestyle factors can also play a role in its decline. Poor diet, stress, and any degree of gut health imbalances can also cause collagen levels in the body to dip.
Collagen’s effectiveness in improving hair quality or addressing how to make hair grow faster is in the fact that it has antioxidant properties that combat the production of free radicals in the body. The oxidative processes that free radicals initiate in the body lead to damaging of hair follicles, but when collagen is present in sufficient quantities it prevents this damage and allows stem cells to maintain their proper hair growth cycles.
So, in much the same way as is the case for biotin, collagen itself does not explicitly promote enhanced hair follicle growth. However, it is more directly beneficial than biotin in that it is more specifically related to the health of the follicle, as compared to the health of the hair strand with biotin.
Additionally in relation to this, collagen increases blood circulation in the body. That’s significant in that healthy hair follicle growth is dependent on an optimized blood supply to the follicle. Plus optimal hair growth occurs when the body as whole is hormonally balanced and, in the bigger picture, the amino acids in collagen play a part in assisting the body to be hormonally balanced
Before concluding here, I’ll mention as well that collagen should be ingested rather than applied via any sort of topical application if it is to be suitably effective. Hair treatments that state they provide the benefits of collagen are often only marginally effective, if at all.
The majority of people with thinning, brittle, or slow-growing hair should look at the problem from a whole-body symbiosis perspective rather than trying to simplistically eyeball the problem and then attempt to find a ‘magic bullet’ approach to dealing with it. The causes of hair growth inhibitions and poor hair health are usually the sum of many different factors, rather than a deficiency of a specific vitamin or protein. That said, biotin and collagen CAN be beneficial, but you’re best advised to look a little deeper into your specific physiological condition(s) and how they’re affecting your hair.