The Beauty Vitamin
Biotin enhances your looks by promoting youthfully radiant skin, hair and nails.
by Lisa James
We live in a world where many people resort to the surgeon’s knife as a way to fight the effects of advancing years. But it doesn’t have to be that way; you would be surprised at how much a difference simple, everyday lifestyle choices can make in helping to slow the clock of age.
Take dietary habits: Many nutrients have long been known to augment one’s appearance by giving skin a healthy glow, hair a shiny bounce and nails a crack-resistent sheen. Among them is biotin, a member of the B-complex.
Known as “the beauty vitamin,” biotin sustains the metabolic processes crucial to looking as young on the outside as you feel on the inside. And while biotin is available in food, high potency formulations can provide this nutrient in optimal concentrations for skin, hair and nail support.
The Effects of Age
The crucial role nutrition plays in appearance makes sense when you remember that skin is an organ, the body’s largest. As with any other organ, how you feed your skin helps determine how well it functions—and how good it looks.
The skin has two layers. Cells at the bottom of the epidermis eventually migrate to the top, becoming the skin’s tough outer layer. The thicker dermis is where structures such as sweat glands and hair follicles are located.
Hair follicles are concentrated on the scalp. Like the outer epidermis, hair consists of a tough protein called keratin. So do nails, which grow from what is called the matrix at each nail’s base.
Aging affects your appearance in several ways. Skin cell turnover slows down and proteins in the dermis start to loosen, leading to a dull, sagging complexion, and the skin often becomes drier. (Excessive sun exposure accelerates these effects.) Hair starts to turn gray and thin out, and nails may thicken and turn dull and brittle.
Biotin’s Beauty Support
Supple skin that shines with the youthful glow of health requires the proper utilization of essential fatty acids, which help keep moisture in and dryness out. Biotin is required for that process, which explains why a deficiency in this nutrient may result in rough, cracked, blemished or rash-prone skin.
Biotin also helps strengthen weak, brittle hair and nails; in fact, hair loss is another sign of inadequate biotin reserves. It has helped children with a condition called ectodermal dysplasia, in which hair grows slowly and abnormally. In addition, biotin has been found to reduce fingernail splitting and increase nail thickness. (This explains why biotin supplements are often given to horses as a defense against cracked hooves.)
Biotin plays key roles in inner well-being as well. For example, biotin insufficiency impairs the body’s ability to manufacture insulin, the hormone that helps control blood sugar; dryness, itchiness and scaly discoloration are all skin signs of diabetes. Biotin also helps prevent damage to DNA, and not getting enough of it during pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects. Finally, like other members of the B-complex, biotin is crucial to healthy nerve function and is currently being studied as a possible treatment for progressive multiple sclerosis.
Proper nutrition is the path to lasting beauty—and biotin supplementation can help.