In this article:
- What causes hair loss?
- What is biotin and where does it come from?
- What is collagen and what is its role in the human body?
- Biotin vs. collagen for hair loss and hair growth
Hair is a pretty simple thing but we spend a lot of time fussing over it. Each hair follicle is made entirely of keratin protein cells and is rooted in the skin's dermis by the hair bulb. Blood vessels nourish and deliver hormones to each follicle to help them grow and stay healthy and strong. Hair follicles have a life cycle and fall out is part of that, but if the follicle becomes damaged, new hair may not be able to grow. Humans have about 100,000 hairs on the scalp alone, so losing a couple a day really isn't a big deal but it sure feels like it!
There are a couple of different kinds of hair loss with many different underlying causes; hair can fall out in clumps and leave bald patches, the hairline can recede, or hair can thin overall. Tight braids and hairstyles and harsh chemical products (such as perms and bleaching) can cause hair loss and breakage. Finding a single cause for hair loss can be tricky, but knowing the types and matching them with your patterns of hair loss can help you to identify the root cause and find ways to promote future hair growth.
Androgenetic alopecia: This is the most common cause of hair loss for both men and women. For men, this is often referred to as male pattern baldness and is characterized by a receding hairline and thinning at the crown of the head. For women, this usually results in overall hair thinning.
Telogen effluvium: This is a very common type of hair loss that is usually brought out by prolonged periods of stress. It is characterized by widespread thinning of the hair and occurs 2-3 months after major body stress such as a major illness, the death of a loved one, surgery, infection, or after childbirth.
Tinea capitis: This type of hair loss is due to a fungal infection of the scalp which causes patchy hair loss. It often causes the skin on the scalp to become dry, flaky, and scaly.
Alopecia areata: Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes the hair to fall out in small patches. It's common in people who have been diagnosed with other autoimmune diseases, as we'll see, they can be a major cause of hair loss.
Side effects of medications: It's not uncommon for certain medications to cause hair loss. These drugs include lithium, beta-blockers, warfarin, heparin, amphetamines and levodopa. If you think your hair loss might be attributed to a medication you're taking, you can always check for the side effects online.
Symptom of an illness: Autoimmune diseases and other illnesses can cause hair loss such as lupus, syphilis, thyroid disorders, eating disorders, sex-hormone imbalances, or nutritional deficiencies of protein, iron, zinc, or biotin. It's always best to speak to a dermatologist or doctor about your hair loss in case it is a symptom of any underlying undiagnosed illness.
If you're still not quite sure which type of hair loss you are experiencing, you can read this blog on ways to identify it and speak to your doctor. Thinning hair is normal, but that isn't to say we can't help to slow it down! Below we'll evaluate taking collagen vs biotin supplements for healthy hair growth.
You may be surprised to know that biotin is a B vitamin! It goes by many names; in Germany, it is called vitamin H, and in France and many other countries it is called vitamin B7, vitamin B8, or Coenzyme R. At its core, biotin is a B complex vitamin that is water-soluble, meaning it can only be received from food. Fatty fish, nuts, and eggs are all great for increasing the amount of biotin in the body. Biotin has many different functions, including fatty acid and amino acid metabolism, cell growth, and blood sugar regulation, but it is especially important in supporting our hair and nail health. Biotin deficiency can result in brittle nails, hair breakage, and hair loss.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is a structural protein whose name is derived from the Greek word for "glue" and is largely considered to be a major building block of the body. There are many different types of collagen, but it is found primarily in the connective tissues such as the joints, ligaments, skin, and the cartilage that surrounds the organs. The benefits of collagen are widespread; collagen supplements are frequently taken to support strong nails, silky hair, and healthy skin as well as to reduce joint pain and build lean muscle mass. Many skincare products use collagen for its powerful anti-aging benefits and to prevent hair loss.
Both biotin and collagen are commonly used to manage hair loss, but they manage it in different ways. Biotin has been found to help increase nail thickness and reduce skin rashes, which is why many products promoting hair and skin health include biotin in their mix. However, though some studies found that participants who received oral supplementation of biotin perceived hair growth, the evidence isn't quite there. Biotin is a vitamin that can only be found in many different foods, so supplementation isn't necessarily required but it isn't discouraged either. Whereas we need to consume specific foods or supplements to get an adequate amount of biotin, future collagen production can be spurred within the body through collagen supplementation.
Collagen promotes hair growth in a number of different ways. Collagen protein is made up of amino acids, including proline, which is vital to the production of keratin (what makes up our hair follicles). Therefore, consuming more collagen should help provide a necessary component to hair growth. Marine collagen, collagen derived from the skin and scales of fish, was also found to be a powerful antioxidant that helps fight off the free radicals that can damage your hair and impede hair growth. Collagen may also help to strengthen the dermis in which the hair follicles are rooted to help prevent the hair from thinning. Aside from bone broth, which contains collagen and gelatin (the cooked form of collagen), it's difficult to get collagen from foods. As we age, our collagen levels drop as does skin elasticity and hair growth, so many people turn to supplements of collagen peptides to promote healthier skin and hair.
Collagen and biotin are very different, one is a protein and the other is a vitamin, so you can safely take them together if you want to cover all your bases. Amandean collagen powder is flavorless, non-gmo, and gluten-free, making it an easy addition to your morning coffee or tea without skipping a beat. Since biotin can be found in foods, you can try adding more biotin to your diet by eating more egg yolks, legumes, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and nuts. Additionally, you can take a multivitamin that contains biotin and vitamin c to increase your body's production of collagen. When it comes to hair growth, you don't have to choose one or the other - collagen and biotin work best as a team!
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