Hair loss doesn’t happen instantly, it’s a gradual process that is slow and cruel, and one can’t hope but wonder about an immediate solution. Occasionally, women who become vegetarian or vegan report experiencing hair loss.
In cases where hair loss is diet-related, it may be due to rapid weight loss, thyroid problems, iron deficiency, zinc deficiency, or even the underconsumption of lysine, an amino acid. If you feel like your hair loss is linked to the lack of a harmonious and nutrient-rich plant-based diet, the first thing you have to do is visit a doctor to understand whether or not you have a deficiency or are low in vital nutrients.
For instance, most people that go vegan increase their soy intake, but soy negatively affects iodine levels, especially if you’re not consuming enough iodine (about 150mcg a day). Lack of iodine in your diet may negatively affect your thyroid, which is also associated with hair loss. At that point, an iodine supplement may help.
Alternatively, for issues that may not be diet-related, supplementation with biotin for a few months may help, which is why I’ve created this article. It’s important to separate the good biotin supplements from the bad.
Before Buying: 5 Things To Consider When Purchasing Biotin
Most people buy biotin on the sole promise that it can generate superior hair growth, but it’s important to understand what sets each supplement apart.
It takes time to understand the research on biotin, which is why I’ve taken the time to create this article, to provide you with information about biotin and to point you to a good, effective supplement.
As such, if you ever decide to purchase a biotin supplement, here’s what you have to consider:
1 – Check the Label
Needless to say, upon checking the label you need to find one thing: biotin.
Also, you want to verify if the supplement is vegan, and if you’re intolerant to either nuts or gluten, you also need to account for ingredients that may be inconsistent with those intolerances.
I’ve also mentioned that soy plays an antagonistic role to iodine, therefore, if you have a supplement that contains soy, then perhaps it’s a good idea to avoid it to not exacerbate an iodine deficiency.
Common natural ingredients in biotin supplements are lutein, green tea leaf extract, selenium, and others.
2 – How Much Biotin?
This is obvious, but you must ensure that the supplement contains adequate amounts of biotin. This amount varies based on different factors, including age.
Also, according to WebMD, while there’s no established RDA for biotin, its adequate intake can vary from 30 mcg for adults over 18 years and pregnant women, and 35 mcg for breast-feeding women.
For people with a biotin deficiency, up to 10mg have been used.
It’s indeed possible to get biotin from any diet, but some people may suffer from an unfortunate genetic disorder that may lead to biotin deficiency. People with unhealthy drinking habits may also have trouble absorbing biotin.
3 – Different Biotin Forms
Our bodies can generally absorb biotin, regardless of the form it comes in. Biotin supplements are available in the form of tablets, capsules, gummies, and perhaps even liquid (although I haven’t found one yet).
One thing to keep in mind is that some of the supplements available in solid forms are not vegan unless they clearly state on the label that vegan-friendly capsules are being used. Unfortunately, using gelatine as a thickening agent is still quite common in the world, so we need to rule those out from future choices.
Based on the form you pick, you may have to pay more or less. Tablets are typically cheaper than capsules, while chewable gummies are generally more expensive.
4 – Brand Must Be Trustworthy
One of the mistakes of just purchasing any cheap supplement is that you don’t know how reputable the company you’re purchasing from actually is.
In my opinion, a trustworthy supplement brand or company must fill the following requirements:
- A great customer service;
- Must have solid customer reviews;
- Test their products through an independent third-party member;
I’d be wary about purchasing products from brand-new companies, as the aforementioned information is often limited, namely customer satisfaction.
5 – It Takes Time To Grow
Unfortunately, supplements don’t work instantly, so while you may experiencing hair loss, you’ll likely not going to see positive results in some weeks or a few months.
In fact, one study, suggests that the increase in hair growth for the participants would only occur in 90 days.
As such, the only thing that’s left one to do is to consistently take the supplement and be patient.
Let’s take a look at the our list of the 6 best vegan biotin supplements:
The 5 Best Vegan Biotin Supplements
1 – Physician’s Choice Total Hair (Editor’s Choice)
Physician’s Choice Total Hair supplement is not solely a biotin supplement, as it contains a panoply of ingredients that aid with hair growth, including Keratin, Biotin, Zinc, and even Iodine.
It reunites different ingredients that may be missing for people that report gradual hair loss, which is why it’s so effective according to consumers that review the product.
Their approach, from my point of view, was to rule out every possible dietary/nutritional reason that would lead to hair loss.
For instance, keratin helps protect and repair hair at a cellular level. In fact — one study shows that keratin intake can reduce hair loss by four times in as little as 30 days compared to those taking a placebo.
Minerals such as iodine (that is associated with hair loss due to its impact on thyroid hormone levels) and zinc (which plays an important role in hair tissue growth and repair) are also included and may be useful since not everyone has a good enough diet that accounts for all the different nutrients.
Another ingredient that is also very interesting is vitamin E, which has shown through clinical evidence that it strengthens and repairs hair at a cellular level. Physician’s Choice point to one study where the intake of this specific vitamin demonstrates positive results in people with alopecia.
2 – Bulk Supplements Pure Biotin (Budget Option)
If you simply want biotin and an highly affordable option that won’t break the bank, then Bulk Supplements has to be the company that provides customers with the most affordable products.
They also provide biotin in a form that is less common (powder), which you can mix with water, or any other beverage of your choice.
What’s more, Bulk Supplements has different quantities available, from 10g to 25kg per bag.
Their smallest pure biotin bag is enough for 10000 servings, which means it would last you ten thousand days, which is incredible since it’s incredibly cheap.
However, each serving, according to Bulk Supplements is quite potent and must be measured and apportioned only by precision instruments that can calculate weight down to 0.001 grams. Namely, a precision microgram scale.
If you’re planning to purchase from them, keep that in mind.
3 – Mary Ruth’s Vegan Biotin Gummies
Flavored gummies are a wonderful alternative for those with trouble swallowing tablets.
These goji-flavored by Mary Ruth’s bring a little more than just biotin. In fact, they contain biotin, vitamin B12, zinc, vitamin B9, and Fo-Ti Extract — a medicine long used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to promote healthy skin and hair growth.
Each bottle comes with 30 servings with each gummy being comprised of organic ingredients that are both Non-GMO and allergen-free.
While the gummies taste delightfully, they are actually sugar-free, which is a plus for any health-conscious individual.
4 – Ora Organic Be-You-Tiful
Ora Organic is a highly reputable and vegan-friendly brand that specializes in the production of organic supplements, often containing blends of fruits and vegetables.
The Be You Tiful supplement contains B vitamins such as biotin and niacin, but you’ll also find what they call the Ora Beauty Blend.
This blend contains ingredients such as organic quinoa sprout extracts, organic green algae extract, organic bladderwrack extract, bacillus subtilis, and organic tapioca maltodextrin.
According to Ora Organic, astaxanthin (algae extract) is an extremely potent antioxidant and safe natural anti-inflammatory, with the ability to improve your appearance, providing your skin with protection against ongoing damage from ultraviolet light exposure, while also helping inhibit hyper-pigmentation (or age spots).
Fucoidan, a seaweed extract, has different benefits as well, including the increase of Sirtuin-1, a protein that is considered an important marker for cell aging and is believed to affect longevity and reduction of age-related diseases and dermatologic conditions. It can also reduce the activity of elastase, tyrosinase, and collagenase enzymes, all of which are responsible for the aging of tissue.
Finally, you have the B vitamins like biotin and niacin that are important for hair growth, which essentially help strengthen the production of keratin, the protein that makes up our hair and nails.
5 – Sports Research Biotin
Among the most reviewed supplements on Amazon, SR’s Biotin Infused Supplement comes with 10,000 mcg of biotin and cold-pressed organic coconut oil.
Often manufacturers suggest that coconut oil increases nutrient absorption, and while that may be true for Vitamin D, there’s no clear evidence for the remaining vitamins or minerals.
SR’s supplement is a GMO-free formula that is also free from allergens such as soy, gluten, preservatives, and stearates. It does contain a warning for tree nuts, however.
Unlike most of the supplements on this list, SR’s biotin supplement is ideal for someone looking strictly for a biotin supplement, which you’ll find available at an incredibly high dose.
Each bottle costs nearly $20 and comes with 120 servings, making it affordable compared to some of the supplements on this list that contain a blend of nutrients.
Taking A Biotin Supplement
There are many ways in which you can take biotin, since it’s available in many forms, including supplements, shampoos, and even food. Biotin is the equivalent to vitamin B7.
In this particular section, we’re going to go over how you should take a biotin supplement and dive a bit deeper into more specific details like the form and dose of biotin in each supplement.
It’s important to choose a form you know you’ll be able to consume effortlessly and consistently so that you can reap the best results.
Biotin supplements generally come in the following forms: tablets, pills, soft gel capsules, and gummies, but you also have biotin that is available in powdered forms, such as the one sold by Bulk Supplements.
Tablets and capsules can come in different sizes, and the largest of them may be difficult to swallow. I’ve got a friend that throws a tantrum when taking medication because it takes him a lot of effort to swallow tablets. It all comes down to the individual, so you must choose a form that best suits you.
Some supplements may contain major allergens such as wheat, soybeans, nuts, and even allergens from animal origin like milk, eggs, or fish. Before you purchase, make sure the supplement doesn’t contain anything you might be allergic to, even if it’s been subject to cross-contamination in manufacturing.
I also advise you to speak to your doctor before taking any supplements, as it’s important to rule out the possibility that you may be allergic to anything.
You also want to make sure the supplement doesn’t contain any ingredient that may negatively interact with another medication you take. That doesn’t normally happen since biotin supplements are typically comprised of vitamins and minerals, but it’s still better to seek confirmation just to be safe.
Know the Dose
According to WebMD, there isn’t a well-defined dose of biotin one should take daily.
With that being said, they still suggest the adequate intakes are a minimum of 30 mcg for adults over 18 years and pregnant women, and 35 mcg for breast-feeding women.
Despite that — biotin supplements you’ll come across often contain doses such as 5000 and 10000 mcg.
Fortunately, there are no side effects associated with excessive biotin intake, much like other b vitamins, since they’re essentially water-soluble vitamins your body discards can easily through liquids.
Biotin advocates mention that you should take between 2000-5000 mcg to strengthen hair shafts and to properly treat thinning hair. However, there’s no evidence suggesting that such a dose is effective.
In conclusion, I believe that as long as you take a minimum of 30 or 35 mcg per day, it should be sufficient to achieve healthy biotin levels.
Read the Instructions
Let’s not forget that supplements come with serving recommendations on their labels, typically with clear instructions on how much you should actually consume.
Generally, a supplement will contain more biotin than you need in a day, but your body is incapable of completely absorbing the entire dose. For supplements with huge doses, even more so. As a result, it also helps to take certain supplements during a meal with foods that enable (or potentiate) their absorption.
Is Biotin Really Effective For Hair Growth?
According to the health-authority website Healthline, biotin helps convert certain nutrients into energy, playing an important role in the health of your hair, skin, and nails. If you don’t eat enough biotin, you may experience hair loss or a scaly red rash. That said, a biotin deficiency is extremely rare.
The evidence available on the subject is sparse, and while investigators assume that biotin is important for hair growth, there’s no clear cut answer.
For instance, in one 2015 study, women with thinning hair were given an oral marine protein supplement (MPS) containing biotin and a placebo bill twice a day for 90 days. Results showed that women who took MPS experienced a significant amount of hair growth in the areas affected by hair loss. They also experienced less shedding. Additionally, a study in 2012 by the same researcher produced similar results.
For all intents and purposes, more evidence is necessary to prove that biotin is factually effective.
Foods That Are Rich in Biotin
I usually only like to recommend a supplement if you can’t obtain its contents from foods.
For certain nutrients (like B12), it makes sense to take a supplement, because B12 is not as bioavailable in plant-based foods. As a result, taking a B12 supplement makes sense.
However, biotin is available in adequate amounts in a plant-based diet.
A list of vegan biotin-rich foods include:
- Sunflower seeds
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole Wheat Bread
In other words, you probably don’t need a supplement to get adequate biotin levels, unless you have a genetic complication that limits biotin absorption, or if you just avoid a lot of the aforementioned foods.
While it’s unclear whether or not biotin will work for your particular case, it doesn’t hurt to try, given that there is SOME evidence that biotin has worked for some individuals. The evidence is not definitive but it’s quite promising, and it might evolve in the future.
However, it’s important to understand that it’s not a solution for every case, since some cases may be related to other nutritional deficits or genetic complications.
Before you try out every supplement on the shelf, try to understand whether or not you have a specific nutrient deficiency by first speaking to your doctor and doing all the testing.