Free UK Delivery on all orders over £25

Biotin and Selenium: Vitamins and Minerals for Hair, Nails & Skin?

Biotin and Selenium: Vitamins and Minerals for Hair, Nails & Skin?

Beauty vitamins are all the rage on Instagram. You have everyone from the Kardashians to that girl you went to school with promoting them, with claims of growing glowing manes of hair (that’s definitely not extensions) and turning bitten nails into fresh-from-the-salon looking talons. 

What’s the deal? Are they for real? Is there a magic hair growing pill? Will you never have to spend another penny at the salon?

Let’s look at the two key players involved: biotin and selenium.

Biotin

Biotin is one of the B complex vitamins, sometimes known as B7 or vitamin H. Why H? You can thank the Germans for that as it represents Haar und Haut, the German words for "hair and skin".

How much do I need?

Adults should be getting between 30 to 100mcg of biotin on a daily basis. But don't worry if you've exceeded that (we're often known to have multiple cups of T Plus a day), as biotin is water soluble and just passes through into your urine once your bodies had enough.

Biotin deficiency is possible, although rare. Low levels of biotin can cause thinning of the hair and skin rashes, which usually appear on the face (around the eyes, nose and mouth). Other less common symptoms include depression, hallucinations, lethargy and numbness and tingling of the limbs.

What does it do?

Biotin contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism (a.k.a converting your food into energy). It’s also known for contributing to the maintenance of normal hair and skin.

One of the first things discovered about biotin is that it can promote growth, particularly in helping to keep the skin and hair healthy and strong. It was first discovered in nutritional experiments, which found it to be capable of curing dermatitis, hair loss, and neurologic signs induced in rats.

Where do I get it?

It's found in multiple food sources (such as eggs, milk, nuts, and grains), plus supplements such as pills and chewy animal-shaped gummys. It’s also one of the 9 daily essential vitamins found in our own t plus vitamin teas, making up part of the B complex.

 

Selenium

Selenium is a mineral found in our soil, but also occurs naturally in some foods in small amounts. It was discovered by accident by a Swedish chemist in 1817, and its name comes from Selene, the Greek goddess of the moon. We've discussed before how modern agricultural practices have caused selenium to become depleted in the soil in recent years, which is a worry as this mineral plays a vital role in metabolism. 

How much do I need?

An average person needs 55mcg a day of selenium. As with many other vitamins and minerals, it's recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women up their intake to around 60-70mcg a day. Unlike biotin, selenium is not water soluable so it is possible to have too much of it. It has a safe upper limit for an adult, at 400mcg a day.

A selenium deficiency can appear though a range of symptoms, including infertility, muscle weakness, fatigue, hair loss and a weak immune system.

What does it do?

Selenium has lots of uses biologically, but also electronically. Selenium can actually create electricity from sunlight, so it used in solar cells and panels. It's also used to make the red colour in glass, which is found in photographic toner.

But back to your body: selenium has a wealth of uses such as contributing to the normal function of the immune system and the protection of cells from oxidative stress.

Like biotin, Selenium contributes to the maintenance of normal hair but instead of skin, selenium also contributes to the maintenance of normal nails.

How does it work? Well selenium helps your body to make use of iodine that you consume, which is needed for thyroid function. It's your thyroid which is responsible for growth - including hair and nail growth.

Where do I get it?

It's most commonly found in nuts, fresh and saltwater fish, beef and poultry and grains. Selenium supplements have been widely available for many years. Selenium has also made its way into a lot of haircare products – even starring in the 2001 film, Evolution, where shampoo containing selenium was used to fight off the invading alien species (there's your useless trivia for the day covered - you're welcome).

The Verdict

Biotin and selenium certainly do contribute to hair, skin and nail maintenance.

You should endeavour to reach the recommended intakes every day to ensure that your hair, skin and nails don't suffer. If your diet doesn't allow you to do this, or you struggle to regularly meet the RDA then you should look into supplementing. But remember to be careful to not overdo it with the selenium.