Posted by Dr. Ian Bier on Mar 22, 2021 8:04:27 PM
Instead of stockpiling your bathroom cabinet with creams and other topicals, it’s time to start thinking about addressing hair, nail, and skincare from the inside out.
Your skin and nails’ health is primarily rooted in a healthy diet and protection against nutrient deficiencies. With this knowledge in mind, more people are starting to wonder about the differences between biotin and collagen, which is better for skin, hair, and nail health. The truth is that both biotin and collagen are associated with supporting skin, hair, and nails, and though they support each other, your choice should depend on the specific results you’re seeking.*
As always, a balanced diet and supplement regimen is critical for optimizing the intake of biotin and collagen.
Biotin (also known as vitamin B7) is part of the vitamin B family best known for its support of hair, skin, and nails.* It is water-soluble and plays various essential roles in the human body, including utilizing nutrients for energy.* Biotin is an enzyme co-factor that helps the body utilize the proteins and collagen that it already produces.*
Inadequacy is uncommon but could manifest as a red and itchy scalp, hair thinning or loss, and fragile nails. A healthy diet is often enough to maintain optimal levels, and supplementation can also help certain cases.
Any new nutritional supplements should be discussed with your integrative doctor, and more clinical studies are needed to affirm biotin’s benefits—however, ensuring appropriate biotin levels from foods or supplementation may support:
Biotin seems to improve keratin’s infrastructure, a protein that makes up skin, nails, and hair.* More studies are needed on the science behind biotin and hair growth, although research does suggest that women with thinning hair experience growth after biotin supplementation for 90-180 days.*
Biotin also might strengthen brittle and weak nails, possibly due to its ability to support overall healthy cell growth and keratin levels.*
While more research is needed, biotin might contribute to healthy skin by boosting the formation of skin-supportive fatty acids.*
Food sources of biotin include egg yolks, organ meats like liver, nuts and nut butters, whole grains, cauliflower, bananas, and mushrooms. In order to properly digest and absorb biotin and any other nutrient, the first step is making sure your gut health is in order.
About one-quarter to one-third of the body’s total protein is made up of collagen, a strong, fibrous protein that provides the structural framework for skin, cartilage, tendons, bones, blood vessels, joints, gut lining, muscles, and eyes. The human body does produce some collagen on its own, but it must be mainly obtained from foods.
Collagen provides a myriad of health benefits. It may support:
Due to its ability to maintain healthy cartilage, collagen is often used to protect and maintain healthy joints.* Conventional and integrative doctors alike use collagen with patients to help promote joint comfort and mobility.*
Bone Density Maintenance
Bones are largely made of collagen, and insufficient collagen can contribute to bone weakening and fragility. With age, it’s normal for both collagen and bone mass to decrease, so getting plenty of collagen through foods and supplements is essential.
Perhaps best known for its skin health benefits, collagen seems to support a graceful aging process by lessening noticeable wrinkles and dryness while improving skin elasticity.* Collagen-rich foods and supplements not only provide collagen directly and prompt your body to produce more of its own, but also promote production of other skin-supportive proteins, such as fibrillin and elastin.*
Collagen—especially collagen peptides—is also used to strengthen brittle nails, prevent breakage, and stimulate normal growth.*
Collagen obtained from foods can sometimes be more bioavailable than supplements, and excellent sources include bone broth, chicken, fish, egg whites, citrus fruits, berries, garlic, and cashews. A diet high in refined sugar might damage collagen over time, and foods rich in collagen-boosting nutrients zinc, copper, and vitamin C, are also important.
Supplementing with collagen and biotin certainly have their time and place. However, if you already have sufficient levels and are supplementing, you aren’t likely to notice immediate or dramatic results. Even if you already have adequate collagen levels, extra intake can help the body do more than just basic maintenance, and with time might help you achieve stronger and more lustrous hair, skin, and nails, as well as improvements in joint health.
However, keep in mind that biotin supplementation may interfere with certain lab tests, so check with your doctor about stopping your supplement for a period of time prior to testing.
If you are looking to support hair, skin, and nails—along with your bones and joints as you age—adding biotin and collagen-rich foods to your diet and considering supplementation can help.
Remember that you might need additional co-factors in order to properly and efficiently absorb collagen supplements. This is where B vitamins like biotin come into play.
 Glynis A. (2012). A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Evaluating the Efficacy of an Oral Supplement in Women with Self-perceived Thinning Hair. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 5(11), 28–34.
 Floersheim GL. Behandlung brüchiger Fingernägel mit Biotin [Treatment of brittle fingernails with biotin]. Z Hautkr. 1989 Jan 15;64(1):41-8. German. PMID: 2648686.
 Hexsel D, Zague V, Schunck M, Siega C, Camozzato FO, Oesser S. Oral supplementation with specific bioactive collagen peptides improves nail growth and reduces symptoms of brittle nails. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2017 Dec;16(4):520-526. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12393. Epub 2017 Aug 8. PMID: 28786550.
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