There are a couple of different ways to use biotin, also known as vitamin H, to support nail growth, but the two most common methods are taking oral supplements and using a fortified nail enamel. Supplements tend to deliver the most concentrated vitamin, and are usually one of the best ways to cure a biotin deficiency. Deficiencies are rare, but serious; brittle nails are one of the most common symptoms, but are by no means the only problem. Biotin can often help nails even you’re getting enough of the vitamin in your diet, though. The complex can help add strength and bulk, and can make nails better able to tolerate dryness and other environmental factors. Enamels won’t help you if have an established deficiency, but they often deliver faster results, and also commonly come blended with other nail nutrients and moisturizers. No matter which route you take, it’s important to keep dosage in mind. In most cases the body has a threshold of how much biotin it can realistically use before it begins flushing the excess out. If you aren’t getting the results you want, taking more won’t usually help the situation — and in some cases it could actually make things worse.
Biotin and is produced by bacteria, molds, plants, algae and yeasts. People don’t produce biotin naturally, but it is important for overall health. What this means is that it needs to be absorbed through the diet. This isn’t usually a problem for people who eat more or less balanced meals, as the vitamin is present in small amounts in many different foods; eggs, brewer’s yeast and liver have some of the highest concentrations, but most vegetables and meats contain it, too.
A number of studies have connected biotin with hair, skin, and nail health, and a number of researchers have suggested that taking more of this nutrient than is strictly required for health can improve these tissues, making them stronger, less prone to cracking or breaking, and generally more flexible. Taking biotin for nails almost always requires supplementation, however, since the amounts present in foods are usually too low to make a difference. For example, you would have to eat around 100 eggs to get the recommended 2.5-milligram daily dosage of biotin.
Taking oral capsules is usually the most direct way to get more biotin. A number of scientific studies show that taking biotin may help fight a variety of ailments beyond problems with weak nails, so bottles and products may not be marketed specifically for nails though most can be used that way. Biotin is a common supplement and is available online and at many health stores, vitamin stores and pharmacies. Taking biotin for nails is generally recommended in 2.5-milligram doses administered daily.
A number of manufacturers also make biotin-fortified nail enamels or gels that are applied directly to the nail. Unlike oral capsules these aren’t absorbed into the bloodstream, and they can’t help boost the body’s internal stores. They’re often one of the fastest ways to see improvement, though, and in most cases the other ingredients in the enamel can help strengthen the nails immediately, if just temporarily. It usually takes about six months for visible results with capsules.
Signs of Deficiency
Signs that you may need supplementation include weak, brittle nails that are prone to splitting. Weak nails can benefit from a boost with a biotin supplement, which works to thicken the nails. This, over time, helps to prevent splitting and cracking. When you take biotin for nails, it is absorbed into the core of the nail, resulting in thicker, longer and most importantly healthier nails.
Biotin deficiencies are usually rare in the general population, but most commonly come about because of heredity or a poor diet. When the body has a biotin deficiency, the body can’t effectively use glucose for energy and protein for cell growth. This can cause a number of metabolic issues, and can also lead to dysfunctional nervous system, muscle aches, thin hair or baldness, and dermatitis or other skin problems.
Common Risks and Precautions
Taking biotin for nails is usually considered safe, but observing common precautions is important. It’s hard to overdose on biotin since the body typically flushes out excesses without absorbing them. Just the same, it’s not usually a good idea to take more than the recommended daily amount; it isn’t likely to help, won’t get faster results, and can actually cause problems elsewhere as systems get slowed down dealing with the excess.