Written by Mercey Livingston
Changes like dry skin, wrinkles, thinning hair, and hair loss are particularly distressing, and it can feel overwhelming trying to find solutions that work. While there are plenty of products out there on the market that claim to support better hair and skin during menopause, one of the most popular supplements is biotin.
What is Biotin?
"Biotin is one of the B vitamins, specifically vitamin B7, but it is also referred to as vitamin H. It's known in a more informal sense as the 'hair, skin, and nail vitamin,'" says Bonafide Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Alyssa Dweck. Aside from being important for supporting hair and skin health, it also helps your body metabolize fats and protein and it supports your nervous system.1
Biotin is often taken in a supplement form, but it is found naturally in many foods including sweet potatoes, mushrooms, avocado, bananas, eggs, legumes, seeds, nuts, liver, and milk according to Dr. Dweck. "Biotin is also a water-soluble vitamin, so any excess is typically discarded by the body through urine," she adds.
What Causes Hair and Skin Changes During Menopause?
When it comes to hair and skin changes during menopause, there is no single factor to blame, but often it's a combination of factors. First, hormones may affect both the skin and hair, especially when they decline during menopause. "Hormone imbalance, specifically lower levels of estrogen and progesterone and higher ratio of testosterone, is in part responsible for hair changes during menopause," says Dr. Dweck. These hormonal changes along with decreased collagen, can affect the skin.
"Collagen diminishes during menopause and with age – decreased collagen is often associated with thinning and sagging skin," says Dr. Dweck. Hormones and collagen are just two common factors, and since everyone is different, there may be other health or lifestyle issues contributing to hair and skin changes. "Stress, dietary deficiencies and environmental exposures also play a role in hair and skin changes during menopause," says Dr. Dweck.
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How Biotin Can Help Hair and Skin During Menopause
Now that you understand what may be driving your hair and skin issues during menopause, how exactly does biotin play a role in addressing them?
Although there needs to be more clinical research done to strongly confirm how taking biotin supplements may support skin and hair,2 there is plenty of anecdotal evidence (aka reports from people who positively benefit from it).
You can always check with your healthcare provider if you suspect you have a biotin deficiency, but it is not very common in healthy people. Hair loss is one symptom of a biotin deficiency, but it is not always the cause.
Are There Side Effects from Taking Biotin and Is There Anyone Who Shouldn’t Take It?
"Side effects from biotin supplementation are rare since excess is excreted through urine. Excessive intake could result in gastrointestinal upset or a skin rash, but this is not the norm," says Dr. Dweck. According to Mayo Clinic, you can safely take up to 100 micrograms of biotin per day.3
If you are getting blood work anytime soon, you may want to consider pausing your biotin supplement temporarily, so it does not interfere with your test results. "Those undergoing blood testing for thyroid function should discontinue biotin for a brief period of time as biotin might alter the test assay and influence accuracy of results," says Dr. Dweck.
Ways to Incorporate Biotin into Your Beauty Routine
Even though biotin is seen as a "beauty" vitamin, the best way to reap the benefits is by taking it orally through a supplement or food (so no need to run out to try to find a biotin cream or serum, since topical use may not yield the same results).
"Biotin deficiency is rare and there is no established recommended daily amount (RDA). Many women get enough biotin through their diets; however, it remains a popular supplement for those who are looking to optimize their hair, skin and nail health," says Dr. Dweck. "Oral administration is the most common and between 30 to 100 mcg/day is the recommended amount for adults," explains Dr. Dweck.