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Biotin and The Quest for Thicker Hair

My niece is exactly 24 years younger than I am, and she has hair so thick that it gives her a headache. It was down to her waist at one point last year, until she had it cut and donated it to Locks of Love. Where she gets this Rapunzel-like abundance from, I don't know. We share our birthday but decidedly not the thick hair gene.

My hair was always probably of medium thickness, until 2 years ago in my early 30s, I noticed that it was getting thinner. Not scary thin, as in my scalp showing through, but it was definitely less abundant than it had been in my 20s. My thyroid tests, vitamin D levels, and iron levels were all normal, as I would check for any patient. I ate enough protein in my diet, and my stress was managed reasonably well. So I did what any good holistic doctor would do (Physician, treat thyself!) and looked in earnest at the available research for supplements. You can buy a "hair, skin, and nails vitamin" anywhere these days, including Costco or Trader Joe's. But how do you know which one is best when so many products are available?

After quite a bit of digging, I settled on this version made by Pure Encapsulations. Most importantly, it has 6,000 (yes, thousand) micrograms of biotin, which is above the 5,000 that I generally recommend to my patients. Biotin improves the structure of keratin--the protein that makes up hair, skin, and nails. The supplement also contains silica and zinc, which are essential for forming keratin, along with hydrolyzed collagen proteins. There are a few extra antioxidants thrown in for good measure (CoQ10 and polyphenols from grape seed extract to help manage the unavoidable environmental oxidative stress to hair follicles), and it is a vegetarian capsule made with no animal gelatin and no funky dyes. The company that makes it is socially and environmentally responsible and has strict quality control (which is *super*-important given that supplements are not regulated by the FDA and that anyone can put white powder in a capsule and sell it as something it is not).

Did it help my hair? I can't say that my hair is anything close to my niece's, but it definitely stopped getting thinner and maybe even thickened up a bit.

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