Biotin and Women's Hair Loss: Time to Revisit this Issue!
In this final day of our week long look at biotin, we'll examine a most intriguing study.
A study from Switzerland by Dr. Trueb looked at blood biotin levels in women with hair loss. Surprisingly, about 1/3 of women were biotin deficient based on the lab cut offs used in the study (i.e. biotin< 100 ng/L). Women who were biotin deficient were much more likely to have a seborrheic dermatitis-type rash compared to women who were not biotin deficient.
A question that arises is should be test everyone for biotin levels? Well, that answer is no. Screening for biotin deficiency is not so simple. The serum lab test is one of the more expensive tests at least here in Canada. A basic measure of hemoglobin and white cells is $12.00 compared to $207.00 for biotin. In addition the "best method" for assessing biotin (urinary test of 3 hydroxyisovaleric acid) is not widely available.
Asking good questions to the patient to identify risk factors for biotin deficiency can certainly help (see B.I.O.T.I.N mnemonic from earlier in the week) but this study by Dr Trueb showed only 11 % of women with biotin deficiency had a positive risk factor. Those numbers are quite low!
Furthermore the study did not address the success rate of biotin supplementation in women deemed to have low biotin.
This is a very nice study and caught my attention. Like many good studies, there are lots more questions that are raised by the study. It's clear we should ask about risk factors for biotin deficiency and test or supplement where appropriate. Biotin is very safe even in higher doses so supplementation for at least 6 months is reasonable in those suspected of being deficient. I find that 5000 micrograms is usually a reasonable daily dose in those found to be biotin deficient.
Serum Biotin Levels in Women Complaining of Hair Loss.
Trüeb RM. Int J Trichology. 2016 Apr-Jun.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299