I have had problems with my hair, skin and nails for years despite my best efforts.
I tried biotin, B12, vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, etc. all to no avail. Not only did I not see improvement, my efforts often seemed to make things worse. When I say bad hair, I mean, micro hair. When I say bad skin, I mean crepe, aka old lady skin. It was so frustrating.
But, no more! Finally figured it out and at the age of 72, my skin, hair and nails are better than I can remember them being for the past 20 years. So read on my friends.
It turns out, it is the combination of Biotin and B12 that actually works.
Biotin Plus B12
If you are wondering why I have put these two B vitamins together, it is because there is good (though not widely known) data that they work best, if at all, in combination to give us great hair, skin and nails. In other words, B12 cannot function when there is a biotin deficiency, since Biotin deficiency leads to a functional B12 deficiency.
Conversely, a biotin deficiency can also arise due to a sudden, large influx of B12 – as in high-dose initial B12 therapy. Anybody been there? Pinning all your hopes on the B12 therapy only to find you have a new set of problems and the old ones are still present? Read on. What happens with the B12 is that by correcting the B12 level, large amounts of biotin are suddenly needed that are often just not there, either because the biotin supply is quickly depleted, or because it was already low. This means that the B12 therapy won’t work either or that it will have negative consequences such as B12 acne. (See below)
Nutrient experts in the know, such as Dr. Bodo Kuklinski (I know the name does not inspire confidence….who names their kid Bodo? So close to Dodo…Have faith though, this guy is brilliant and doing excellent research.) therefore recommend taking biotin as part of a vitamin B12 therapy treatment: “Vitamin B12 has no effect without an accompanying biotin intake…. (and may result in) skin problems, brittle hair and nails as well as spots….. These are an indication of a biotin deficit….. Without biotin, vitamin B12 does not work…(5).” I respectfully agree.
That is exactly what happened to me. I only wish I had before and after pictures of my legs. There were so many age spots, and the skin looked like crepe. Not anymore. The skin on my old body looks so good that for the first time in 20 years I would be comfortable in shorts or in a skirt without hose. Yea!
Scientists have not determined ways of assessing biotin levels, but because neither the biotin nor the B12 have ever been shown to have a toxic effect, no matter what the dose, they have recommended taking them together. Neither side effects nor overdoses of biotin are known. That said, there is data on vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6 causing weight gain, which is why I do not recommend a B complex.
What is Biotin?
Biotin helps metabolize fatty acids (fats), amino acids (proteins) and glucose (carbohydrates). This means that when we eat foods with fat, protein or carbs, (which is pretty much everything) biotin —also called vitamin B7 — must be present in order to convert and use these macronutrients efficiently. Without biotin, we do not have the energy we need for physical activities, for proper psychological functioning, and for growth (again, just about everything.) In other words, biotin is important when it comes to promoting good metabolism.
Biotin Deficiency – Cause of Vitamin B12 Acne?
Some researchers suspect that the biotin deficiency that occurs during B12 therapy might be the cause of B12 acne. If you have experienced this, it is not pretty. In all likelihood, your physician prescribed the B12 therapy but did not understand the biotin issue. He/she may be as confused as you are. Kuklinski and other clinicians report that this acne can be prevented by the additional administration of biotin.
Benefits of Biotin
- Biotin May Improve Glucose Intolerance and Help Balance Blood Sugar – Vitamin B7 improves the metabolism and utilization of glucose, offering some protection against insulin resistance/type 2 diabetes. Biotin – especially when combined with the chromium found in broccoli, grapes, potatoes, garlic, basil, grass-fed beef, oranges, turkey, green beans, apples and bananas has been shown to help lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. This is especially true for those who have blood glucose (sugar) levels that are not controlled well by prescription medicines. It does this by facilitating the activity of insulin. Vitamin B7 can also help reduce symptoms of existing cases of diabetes, including nerve pain.
- Protects Brain Function and Fights Cognitive Decline – Biotin benefits the health of the nervous system because of its role in nerve signaling and neurotransmitter activity. B vitamins together influence memory function and defend against age-related cognitive impairment, such as neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
- Mood Regulation – Because of their role in synthesizing hormones that are related to mood regulation, B7 helps to keep up a positive mindset, boost energy and increase concentration.
- Helps Maintain a Healthy Cardiovascular System – B7 play a part in defending against common causes of heart disease including inflammation, atherosclerosis (or plaque build-up in the arteries), heart attacks and stroke.
- Lowers Cholesterol Levels – Vitamin B7 and chromium together can help improve cholesterol levels, according to some studies. It has been shown to have positive results increasing “good” HDL cholesterol, while helping to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This is especially true in people with diabetes who are susceptible to heart disease.
- Supports Thyroid and Adrenal Function – B vitamins like vitamin B7/biotin are needed for proper thyroid activity and defending against adrenal fatigue. The thyroid plant and adrenal gland are “master” glands that are responsible for multiple body states, including hunger, sleep, pain perception, mood and energy.
- Needed to Build and Repair Tissues and Muscles – Biotin benefits include helping the growth and maintenance of bodily tissues, including to help repair and build muscles. When tissue or muscle is broken down, B vitamins like vitamin B7 biotin work to build back the strength of muscle and tissue that leads to growth.
Foods Containing Biotin
Most people can get their needs met by simply eating more foods containing high levels of Biotin:
- Liver — 3 ounces cooked: 27–35 milligrams
- Eggs — 1 whole: 13–25 milligrams
- Yeast — 7 grams/about 1 tablespoon: 1.4–14 milligrams
- Salmon — 3 ounces: 4–5 milligrams
- Cheese (try organic goat cheese) — 1 ounce: 0.4–2 milligrams
- Avocado — 1 whole: 2-6 milligrams
- Raspberries — 1 cup: 0.2–2 milligrams
- Cauliflower — 1 cup: 0.2–2 milligrams
- Whole Grain Bread (try Ezekiel bread) — 1 slice: 0.2–6 milligrams
- Additionally berries, mushrooms and other types of fish are also thought to be good sources of biotin.
Interestingly, Biotin (vitamin B7) is found exclusively in the yolk of the egg and is not at all present in egg whites. Some reports have shown that not only do people miss out on B vitamins when they only eat egg whites and discard the yolk, but that egg whites actually have the ability to deplete the effects of B vitamins, — possibly even creating a vitamin B7 deficiency. Eat the whole egg. The fat in the yolk is a really good fat.
Biotin has many other benefits, but for the sake of this discussion, we need it if we want to have luscious locks, silky skin, and diamond hard nails. On it’s own, it doesn’t have this effect, although it does do a lot of other good stuff. In combination with B12, Biotin can really make a difference. It sometimes gets the nickname the “H” vitamin, stemming from the German words Haar and Haut, which mean “hair and skin.”
Supplemental Dosage and RDA of ‘Vitamin B7- Biotin’
- 5 micrograms daily for infants
- 6–8 micrograms daily for infants ages 7 months to 3 years old
- 12–20 micrograms daily for children ages 4–13 years old
- 25 micrograms for adolescents
- 30 micrograms for male and female adults over 19 years old
- 30 milligrams for pregnant women and 35 milligrams for women who are breastfeeding
How much biotin should you take for hair growth? The proper dosage depends on a few factors, including your age and whether or not you have a biotin deficiency. When it comes to using biotin benefits for hair loss or to promote hair growth, you can start by taking 1,000 mcg of biotin daily while increasing the amount of biotin foods you consume in a day. A general recommendation is try working your way up to taking about 2.5 to 3 mg (or 2,500 to 3,000 mcg) daily, which will cover your needs and then some.
What Causes Biotin Deficiency?
Although biotin deficiency is not a big problem in the US, according to an article that appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, some underlying causes of biotin deficiency include:
- Long-term use of certain anti-seizure medications
- Excessive alcohol use
- Consuming lots of raw egg whites – why do people do that? They think the yolk has too much fat…..it’s a good fat, not a bad fat. It is loaded with biotin.
- Prolonged antibiotic use
- Intestinal malabsorption issues or serious digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease, celiac disease or leaky gut syndrome.
Risks, Side Effects and Interactions
Are there side effects to taking biotin? Biotin side effects are rare because this vitamin (like other B vitamins) is water-soluble, which means it travels in the bloodstream and any excess or unused quantities present in the body are eliminated through urine. Therefore, the body doesn’t build up reserves of biotin, and it’s very difficult to consume too much or to reach toxic levels.
What is B12?
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that affects mood, energy level, memory, heart, digestion, and for the purposes of this discussion, skin, hair and nails. It is essential for addressing adrenal fatigue, improving pernicious anemia and megaloblastic anemia. It benefits multiple metabolic functions, including enzyme production, DNA synthesis and hormonal balance. It also helps maintain healthy nervous and cardiovascular systems.
Because of its wide-reaching roles within the body, a deficiency in this essential vitamin can lead to a range of symptoms, including:
- chronic fatigue
- mood disorders like depression
- chronic stress or feeling run down
- brittle hair, nails and damaged skin
Vitamin B12 deficiency is thought to be one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in the world, with a 2004 study showing that it’s a major health concern in many parts of the world, including the U.S., India, Mexico, Central America, South America and certain areas in Africa.
This is a big deal because B12 plays an important role in so many body functions, which is exactly why it’s critical that we get enough B12 in our diets.
Sources of B12
Here are just some of the vitamin B12 foods you can consume on a regular basis to make sure you’re getting enough of this essential vitamin in your diet:
- Beef liver: 1 ounce: 20 micrograms (over 300 percent DV)
- Sardines: 3 ounces: 6.6 micrograms (over 100 percent DV)
- Atlantic mackerel: 3 ounces: 7.4 micrograms (over 100 percent DV)
- Lamb: 3 ounces: 2.7 micrograms (45 percent DV)
- Wild-caught salmon: 3 ounces: 2.6 micrograms (42 percent DV)
- Nutritional yeast: 1 tablespoon: 2.4 micrograms (40 percent DV)
- Feta cheese: 0.5 cup: 1.25 micrograms (21 percent DV)
- Grass-fed beef: 3 ounces: 1.2 micrograms (20 percent DV)
- Cottage cheese: 1 cup: 0.97 micrograms (16 percent DV)
- Eggs: 1 large: 0.6 micrograms (11 percent DV)
 Although biotin competes with vitamin B5 for the same absorption mechanism, this is irrelevant if biotin is taken in moderate amounts.//www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3932423/
Vitamin B12 and Acne – //www.b12-vitamin.com/acne/
Are you using cosmetics that are not organic because they promise gorgeous younger looking skin. You can stop. If they aren’t organic, they are likely doing damage and there is a better way to insure gorgeous skin. Hyaluronic acid. It improves the skin’s texture and appearance, along with reducing joint pain and several of the other symptoms associated with aging.
Hyaluronic acid is a lubricating, clear substance that’s produced by the body naturally. In the human body, hyaluronic acid is found in the greatest concentrations in the skin, inside joints, within the eye sockets and in other tissues where it helps retain collagen, increase moisture, and provide elasticity and flexibility. It kind of does it all.
You will also find it in many cosmetics, or at least you will see it advertised. The amount and quality in cosmetics leave a lot to be desired. Even more importantly though, when applied topically, it cannot be absorbed, unless it is in the form of hyaluronate, which is the salt version and has a lower molecular size. READ THE LABLE!
The best way to get Hyaluronic acid is to make your own bone broth, where it occurs naturally.
Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid
- Hydrates Dry, Aged Skin – Dryness, dandruff, drooping eyes or lips, and sagginess are associated with aging skin because as we get older the molecules in our skin lose some of their ability to bind and retain water.
- Helps Reduce Wrinkles – Within weeks of ingesting HA, you may see a visible increase in skin surface hydration.
- Sores, Sunburn and Wound Repair– HA is also beneficial when you have cold sores (take L-Lysine too,) ulcers, wounds, bites and burns as it is a natural internal moisturizer.
I use a powdered version of HA, that I put in my smoothie along with vitamin C in the form of Camu Camu or Kakadu Plum and collagen to maximize the youthfulness, texture and health of my skin.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. It is basically the glue that holds us together. It is the major component in the connective tissues that make up several body parts, including tendons, ligaments, and muscles.  It also decreases joint pain, promotes gut health, reduces hunger and strengthens bones. But for this discussion, it is important if you want luscious locks, silky skin and nails like, well, nails.
Benefits of Collagen
In your skin, collagen forms a sponge-like matrix that absorbs substances like the famed hyaluronic acid mentioned above and another protein called elastin, which together keep skin smooth, taut, firm and well-hydrated. Without collagen, the fibroblasts, (cells that live in the skin and break down old collagen fibers) can’t keep up with the demand and our skin loses it’s elasticity and becomes thinner and wrinkly.
Over time you get the dreaded signs of aging: dull, dry, wrinkled, sagging skin…cellulite…brittle hair and nails…along with decreased flexibility and body-wide aches and pains as well as a wide range of other problems. Oh, you say, you are still young and don’t really have to worry about this yet. Think again, this whole thing can start as early as your twenties, even though you may not start to notice it for another decade or two.
Other Factors that Deplete Collagen
Besides aging, there are other factors that deplete collagen: like eating a diet high in sugar, smoking, alcohol consumption and high amounts of sun exposure. One of the simplest ways to prevent the depletion of collagen is to drink bone broth. I make my own, as I find it to be much tastier. I also love the smell of it brewing in my kitchen for several days. (See my bone broth recipe) Another way to get good collagen is to supplement with a good collagen powder. I like Dr. Axe’s Ancient Nutrition Multi-Collagen Protein, delicious. I also like Garden of Life as it is not sweetened.
Bottom line, because collagen plays a central role in skin health, boosting your intake through supplementation could help reverse the signs of aging, and keep your skin glowing, hair full and lustrous and nails strong.
Resveratrol is a potent polyphenolic antioxidant that has been shown to extend lifespan in different organisms (worms and fish) due to it’s ability to activate genes that ward off the diseases of aging like diabetes, cancer and high cholesterol. In humans it has been effective in preventing the cells of the body from being damaged by oxidation (aging), especially skin cells. Although it’s relatively new in the marketplace, emerging research is showing that resveratrol is another antioxidant superhero for your skin.
I swear by it. I can see a difference with an hour especially around my eyes when I take it.
Benefits of Taking Resveratrol
A few of the benefits of taking resveratrol include anti-aging benefits for skin, blood sugar stabilization, and even improvement for moods, long term positive impact on diabetes and Alzheimer’s. It’s rare to find a supplement that offers such a spectrum of benefits in one high potency option.
Foods Containing Resveratrol
It is found in red grapes, red wine, nuts, and in fruits such as blueberries and cranberries.
The last two supplements I recommend for your best hair, skin and nails are Vitamin C and Vitamin D. I’ve got all the information you need on these two on my Recommended Supplements page HERE, so head over and check it out today!
Are you trying some of these and seeing results? Reply to this email and tell me your experience!
Dr. Renae Norton specializes in the treatment of eating disorders. Located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Call 513-205-6543 to schedule an appointment or fill out our online contact form for someone to call you to discuss your concerns. Tele-therapy sessions available. Individual and family sessions also available.
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Materials contained on this site are made available solely for educational purposes and as part of an effort to raise general awareness of the psychological treatments available to individuals with health issues. These materials are not intended to be, and are not a substitute for, direct professional medical or psychological care based on your individual condition and circumstances. Dr. J. Renae Norton does not diagnose or treat medical conditions. While this site may contain descriptions of pharmacological, psychiatric and psychological treatments, such descriptions and any related materials should not be used to diagnose or treat a mental health problem without consulting a qualified mental health care provider. You are advised to consult your medical health provider about your personal questions or concerns.