Are you struggling with thinning hair and looking for ways to improve its health? Two popular supplements that are known to promote hair growth and thickness are biotin and collagen. But which one is better?
Let’s explore the world of biotin and collagen for healthy, luscious locks!
Short on time? Don’t leave now! Scroll to the bottom for health hacks you can implement TODAY.
Biotin: Understanding the Basics
Biotin is a B-vitamin that enhances healthy hair growth. It specifically helps boost hair thickness and reduce hair loss.
Commonly known as Vitamin B7, biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that stimulates keratin production, which is essential for healthy hair growth.
Particularly effective in treating conditions such as alopecia (hair loss) and hair thinning. In addition, biotin supports nail growth and improves brittle nails.
Collagen: More Than Just a Buzzword
The most abundant protein in our bodies, collagen provides structure to our skin, hair shaft, nails, bones, and tendons. It promotes hair elasticity and strength and helps keep the hair strands strong, flexible, and less prone to damage.
Collagen also has anti-aging benefits for the skin and helps maintain skin elasticity.
Consuming foods rich in collagen like bone broth or taking collagen peptides can provide your body with the necessary building blocks to support healthy skin, reduce fine lines, and promote hair growth and maintenance. It also boosts bone health and strong nails.
Different Types of Collagen
Collagen, an essential protein in our bodies, exists in multiple forms, each serving distinct roles and functions. The predominant ones include types I, II, and III, comprising approximately 80-90% of our body’s total collagen content.
Type I Collagen. This is the predominant type present in our system. Located within skin, tendons, bones, and various connective tissues, it gives these structures their strength and resilience. Supplements targeting skin and bone health often contain this collagen type.
Type II Collagen. Predominantly found in our cartilage, this collagen preserves joint functionality and flexibility. If you come across supplements promoting joint health, they likely contain type II collagen.
Type III Collagen. Located in the skin, blood vessels, and several internal organs, this collagen type provides structural support and elasticity. Supplements with a focus on skin health enhancement and anti-aging benefits typically contain type III collagen.
Type IV Collagen. Mainly found in a layer beneath our skin called the basement membrane, this type helps keep tissues separated and protected. It acts as a barrier that keeps everything in its right place.
Type V Collagen. This one works closely with Type I collagen, especially in our eyes and muscles. Type V collagen ensures other collagens are built correctly. It’s a bit of a behind-the-scenes type but still super important.
Natural Food Sources: Collagen and Biotin
Biotin is naturally present in a variety of foods:
Egg Yolks. The yolk is a particularly rich source.
Meat and Fish. Liver, salmon, and pork provide biotin.
Nuts and Seeds. Almonds, peanuts, and sunflower seeds stand out.
Dairy. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are good options.
Vegetables. Sweet potatoes, spinach, and broccoli contain good amounts of this b vitamin.
While direct collagen is primarily found in animal sources, some foods can help boost its production:
Bone Broth. While bone broth is indeed a source of collagen, the concentration of collagen in bone broth varies widely (1).
Fish. Collagen is especially prevalent in fish skin. Fish sources of collagen have been shown to promote hair growth and have fewer side effects than collagen derived from cows (2).
Chicken. Chicken skin and cartilage are particularly good sources.
Egg Whites. Egg whites contain proline, an amino acid essential for collagen synthesis.
Berries. Vitamin C in berries can help with the production of collagen.
Leafy Greens. Rich in chlorophyll, they can increase procollagen, the precursor to collagen, in the skin.
Garlic. Provides sulfur, a necessary component for collagen synthesis.
Biotin and Collagen Supplements
There are various forms of biotin supplements, including capsules, tablets, and even gummies. The dosage can range widely, from as little as 30 micrograms (mcg) to as much as 10,000 mcg.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for adults is 30 mcg. However, some people take higher doses based on specific needs and recommendations from healthcare providers.
Pros of Biotin Supplements
Deficiency. Ideal for those diagnosed with biotin deficiency.
Convenient. Easy to incorporate into daily routines.
May Improve Skin Conditions. Some individuals experience a reduction in acne or seborrheic dermatitis when taking biotin supplements (3).
Cons of Biotin Supplements
Potential Toxicity. High doses might exceed what the body can use. Biotin toxicity is rare, however, since it is a water-soluble vitamin and the excess is excreted in the urine (4.).
Side Effects. Too much biotin can lead to acne breakouts and digestive discomfort in some people. It may also interfere with lab test results.
Collagen supplements are often derived from cattle or marine sources. They come in powdered form, capsules, or liquid shots. Collagen powder is often hydrolyzed, which means they’re broken down into smaller peptides for better absorption.
Pros of Collagen Supplements
Enhanced Absorption. Hydrolyzed collagen products may be absorbed more efficiently by the body and are the best collagen supplements.
Skin and Joint Health. Apart from hair, many users take collagen for its potential benefits to skin elasticity and joint health.
Cons of Collagen Supplements
Source Concerns. Vegans and vegetarians might need to search for plant-based collagen boosters, as most are animal-derived.
Purity and Quality. It’s essential to select supplements from reputable brands to ensure quality and avoid potential contaminants.
Side Effects. Collagen can trigger reactions in those with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or histamine intolerance. Those allergic to fish, shellfish, or eggs should also proceed with caution.
Potential Side Effects: An Informed Approach
Being aware of potential side effects is a crucial part of informed decision-making. Here’s what the research indicates:
Biotin Side Effects
Acne. Some individuals have reported an increase in acne, particularly around the jawline, after high-dose biotin supplementation.
Lab Test Interference. Elevated biotin levels can interfere with certain lab tests, including those for thyroid and cardiac conditions. It’s essential to notify your healthcare provider if you’re taking biotin.
Digestive Issues. Although rare, some people might experience stomach discomfort.
Collagen Side Effects
Taste Sensitivity. Some users find the taste of collagen powders off-putting, especially if not well-masked in smoothies or beverages.
Digestive Concerns. A minority of users may experience a sense of fullness or minor digestive upsets.
Allergic Reactions. Given that many collagen supplements are derived from fish, shellfish, or eggs, those with allergies should choose their supplements with caution.
Can Collagen or Biotin Cause Weight Gain?
There is no scientific evidence linking these supplements to an increase in body weight. So, you can take collagen or biotin for hair health without worrying about gaining weight!
Is it Beneficial to Take Both Biotin and Collagen for Hair Health?
Taking both biotin and collagen can be advantageous for hair health. Adding biotin to your routine helps strengthen and promote hair growth, while collagen provides essential amino acids for healthy hair. Consider incorporating both for maximum benefits.
What is Better for Thinning Hair: Biotin or Collagen?
While there is no definitive answer as to which is better for thinning hair, incorporating both biotin and collagen into your diet can have synergistic effects and provide comprehensive support for hair health.
Biotin promotes hair growth by improving the strength and thickness of the hair shaft. Collagen, on the other hand, supports hair health by providing essential amino acids that are necessary for the production of keratin.
So, whether you choose biotin, collagen, or both, prioritize nourishing your hair from the inside out for optimal results.
Want to learn more? Check out these expert articles:
Pam is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Master’s of Public Health and a Certificate in Integrative and Functional Nutrition. Passionate about the science of health and nutrition, she loves to share her knowledge to help others live healthy, vibrant lives. When not working, Pam can be found hiking, traveling, and enjoying great-tasting, nutritious food.