AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: supplements

What Is Biotin? Can It Prevent Hair Loss?

Biotin-3D-ballsBiotin, most notably know as Vitamin B7, is a type of B vitamin. B Vitamins are involved in a plethora of metabolic processes in the body.  Biotin is found in foods like milk, eggs, and bananas – and it plays a vital role in assisting enzymes and supporting a healthy metabolism. Biotin helps our bodies convert certain nutrients into glucose and aids amino acids in carrying out their bodily functions. Biotin deficiency is proven to cause hair loss in the form of alopecia, and can even cause hearing and vision problems. However, Biotin has many benefits as an important coenzyme in the body, helping break down carbohydrates, fats, and others substances – which in turn aids in weight loss. Biotin supplements are often used to treat brittle nails, hair loss, as well as rashes.

Biotin For Hair Growth: Does It Work?

Despite, Biotin is often overused in hair supplements due to its history of helping strengthen nails, hair, and skin. This is partly due to its easy to access over the counter, and celebrities like Kylie Jenner promoting it on Instagram. According to Dr. Kimbre Zahn, a family medicine physician at Indiana University Health, “our bodies require only a very small amount of biotin, which is easily achieved if you’re eating a relatively normal American diet”. Based on this, it doesn’t seem that it is necessary to take supplements containing Biotin on a regular basis. However, you can also benefit from it even if you don’t deal with hair loss.

Keratin is a basic protein in our bodies that makes up our nails, skin, and hair. It has been proven that biotin improves our bodies keratin infrastructure, therefore  Biotin can help strengthen these facets of our body. Its important to keep in mind that many of the touted benefits are not fully conclusive, since most studies that have proven the benefits of biotin also contain other ingredients as well. Therefore this hair growth seen in studies cannot be attributed to the biotin alone. There are many brands of supplements that provide a multi-targeted approach, by using a variety of nutraceuticals – substances that provide health benefits – in their supplements. The belief around hair loss is that a multifaceted approach is necessary to combat all the different issues that may cause hair loss.

Health Supplements - Nutraceuticals - 50191152323One such supplement is Nutrafol – they claim to support hair growth by helping the body fight back against contributing hair-thinning factors, such as our nutrition, metabolism, hormone level, and even tries to manage larger factors like our stress-level by using Sensoril Ashwagandha – an adaptogen that helps build resistance to stress by balancing cortisol level. They believe that through a variety of active ingredients, such as collagen, kelp, vitamin A, vitamin E, and selenium, can combat hair loss internally as opposed to cosmetic solutions. They use naturally sourced botanicals, with recognized clinical studies to back up their ingredients and claims.

After being on Nutrafol myself for about 4-5 months , I feel a thicker, stronger head of hair and am happy with my results. As someone who takes many supplements – mushroom mycelium, multi-vitamins, etc., it was not too difficult to add these four pills to my regimen. And as a result, any bald spot I’ve noticed on the top of my head is/looks gone and I am proud to say I am a few days further from baldness! I recommend this to anyone looking to up their hair game.


Microbiomes… an Athlete’s Key to Success!

For years, scientists have been trying to see what makes a professional athlete different from someone who didn’t quite make the cut. Is there something that professional and elite athletes have that other athletes or inactive individuals don’t? Is it possible to give a mediocre athlete a supplement to improve their performance? Dr. Jonathan Schieman and George Church from the Wyss Institute at Harvard University believe the answer is yes, and they think they’ve found the answer, microbiomes.

Dr. Schieman and his team conducted thorough research on NBA players, marathoners, and Olympic rowers to see if there was a common microbiome that these high-level athletes all shared that sedentary individuals did not. After immense amounts of testing and making sure the proper controls were in place to avoid confounding, and lurking variables, Schieman and his team were able to find one particular organism that was elevated in the guts of athletes’ bodies more than sedentary individuals.

Schieman and his team were able to isolate a particularly abundant organism in athletes that feeds off lactic acid. Lactic acid is a naturally occurring chemical compound that generates during particularly intense and strenuous muscle exercise. Thus, the researchers believe that the organism they isolated has a particularly important effect on making athletes stronger. In addition, the researchers have recently conducted a new study on rugby players and found that rugby players have more of this organism in their body as well as a more diverse range of microbiomes than a sedentary individual.

The microbiome space is particularly new, so one cannot conclude that these findings will be significant to athletes in the future, a realization that Schieman has come to terms with. However, if Schieman and Church find more conclusive and concrete evidence that these, and other, organisms can yield a much better athlete, the sports world could change forever.

What do you think? Can microbiomes be used to make more elite athletes? Only time will tell.


The research is from Jonathan Schieman and George Church from the Wyss Institute at Harvard University. A comprehensive scientific journal entry has not been released to the public due to intellectual property concerns, as the findings are part of a privately-owned company.


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