Monday, June 30, 2014

Supplement with Biotin for Hair, Skin, and Nails

This past winter was rough, and my nails were certainly feeling it by the time spring rolled around.  Throughout March, they felt thinner and broke often.  By May, I was also suffering from dry, itchy skin, and was desperate for change!


The timing was perfect to team up with Eu Natural, who kindly offered me the opportunity to try their Biotin supplement for hair, skin, and nails--learn more from their website here or check out their supplements on Amazon.

Biotin (a.k.a. Vitamin H, Vitamin B7, and Coenzyme R) is a part of the "B complex" vitamins.  As such, it is water-soluble vitamin that helps with the metabolization of amino acids and fats and with the production of new cells and fatty acids. 

Signs of biotin deficiency may include brittle nails; hair loss; eyebrow or eyelash loss; red scaly rash around eyes, nose, and mouth; conjunctivitis; dermatitis; and lethargy.
"Since biotin is a building block for cell production, if it is deficient in your body, you are going to have a harder time growing healthy hair, skin, and nails. [...] By adding more biotin to your diet, you are giving your body the essential  nutrition that it needs to manufacture new skin, hair, and nails, which can lead to more hair growth, stronger nails, and clearer, healthier skin.  This is why you so often will see biotin included in shampoos and soaps!"  (Eu Natural)


Interesting, but does research back this up?  Before trying it for myself, I sought out clinical studies to vouch for the safety and effectiveness of biotin supplementation, and found several findings that support supplementation:
  • Hair: "The oral supplement assessed in this study safely and effectively promotes significant hair growth in women with temporary hair thinning" (Ablon Glynis, MD, FAAD).  The "hair thinning" was self-perceived by the women, and women with diagnosed hair loss disorders were excluded. 
  • Nails: Following an understanding of biotin strengthening animal hooves, researchers investigated its use in strengthening brittle human fingernails.  In a controlled trial, a daily dose of 2.5 mg of biotin found nail thickness increased 25% over a period of six to 15 months of use  (University of Michigan Health).
  • Type II Diabetes: There seems to be a moderate amount of evidence supporting use of biotin in combination with chromium for controlling blood sugar in type 2 diabetics (Cleveland Clinic).

In sum: Although the research thus far is limited and positive effects aren't found in all people, findings suggest that people with thinning hair or brittle nails may benefit from a trial period of biotin supplementation.  As more research is conducted, we'll continue to learn more about how and to what extent biotin can truly improve skin, hair, and nail conditions.

Are there risks?  In short, no.  
     The longer answer:  I had trouble finding ANY known risks associated with biotin supplementation, Most sources conclude that the potential for side effects is very low and consider biotin to be safe, well-tolerated, and non-toxic, even at high levels.  Only one website suggested a small risk of DNA damage if taken with high doses of riboflavin.  All warned, of course, of interactions with other medications, which you should always discuss with your doctor, especially if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.  For those still concerned, dermatologist Dr. Susan Stuart suggests keeping an eye out for possible signs of biotin overdose: slower release of insulin, skin rashes, high blood sugar levels, and lower vitamin C and B6 levels.

All in all, sounded like it's worth a try!  I decided to get started to see if I might experience the benefits found above.



Dosage: Most sources recommend around 2.5 mg of biotin per day, so where can we get our daily fill?

Biotin can be found in the following foods:  liver, egg yolks, sardines, salmon, cauliflower, salmon, carrots, nuts, bananas, mushrooms, and yeast.  However, "biotin in food is usually attached to protein and has relatively poor absorption" (WebMD).

Alternatively, you can take a supplement, like the Eu Natural Biotin supplement I sampled this spring.


Two months later, I can report:
My nails stopped breaking, their frailty completely gone. They are so strong, that I went a few weeks without bothering to use polish at all!  Every time I did remove nailpolish--even gel polish!!--I was pleasantly surprised by how strong they felt.  

  

Excellent!

My hair remained unchanged.  Unfortunately, my dry skin persisted, so I've been seeing my dermatologist and am en route to healing with his guidance.  But, my nails continue to look and feel their healthiest!!

  
I did it -- so can you!  Dare you to... try Biotin! 

Think you might have a biotin deficiency?  Want to see if Biotin can improve your nail, hair, or skin?  Get your own supplement -- Amazon: Biotin 5000 mcg, 120 Vegetarian Capsules (for Hair Growth, Skin, and Nails) -- and let me know if it works for you!

As always, consult your doctor before taking a supplement, and be conscious of possible allergies or drug interactions.


Have you ever supplemented with biotin?  
How do you keep your hair and nails healthy? 

Additional Sources:
University of Maryland Medical Center
Mayo Clinic
University of Michigan Health
US National Library of Medicine
WebMD
The Huffington Post
Dislaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Product review and affiliate details are found on the disclaimer page.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WIAW: Salsa, Salad, Sweets

Summer is here, the school year is ending, and I am ready to get blogging.  To help me get back in the habit, what could be better than a little What-I-Ate-Weduesday!?  I only remembered to photograph a little over half of what I ate, but I'm getting there.  I'll get the hang of it again!

Here goes!

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with salsa and cheddar.  Less morning work stress = time to sit down and eat a real meal!



[Not pictured: a spoonful of sauerkraut and a few pieces of honeydew]


Lunch: Typical salad in typical take-out container.  Lettuce, hearts of palm, avocado, red peppers, and some London broil from my mom, all topped off with some dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar.  Salads like this are my go-to for my BYO lunch at work, and are likely to remain a staple throughout the summer. Salads are refreshing in the heat!




Snack/Dinner: Not pictured, but I my afternoon also included a mix: a small Whole Foods salad-bar mix, some almonds, and a few chocolate-covered cranberries.  These were able to tide me over until...


Dessert: Spent the evening catching up with a friend from college who's in town for the week.  We sat and chatted over frozen yogurt and then walked around in the cooler evening air.



It was a great day!  What's on your plate? 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Favorites

While I'm not writing, I'm living--and living well, thanks to some of the "favorites" below.  Here are some things that I'm loving lately:

My CamelBak water bottle


With June came the heat, and the heat came on STRONG.  I'm a big water-drinker year round, but I've been guzzling even more gallons to stay hydrated.  This filtered and insulated water bottle not only keeps my water clean, but also cool!  Get yours here.


BODYPUMP


Since my first BODYPUMP experience, I've really enjoyed these fitness classes!  It's my favorite way to get in one or two full-body workouts each week.  The music, the instructors, the burn... I'm a regular now, and can't wait for the next track to come out!!


AMRAP bars

Speaking of strength workouts... These nutrition bars are made with the heavy lifter in mind.  In their own words: "We are the nutrition company for high intensity, cross-trained, extreme athletes."


The website says it all: "Clean fuel for your lifestyle.  If you can't grow, gather, or kill it you won't find it in our products."  It's tough to find bars that aren't loaded with wheat and sugar, so these are a convenient backup for a post-workout snack.  They're not huge on fancy flavors, but they do the job when I need to refuel after a workout but don't need or have a big meal.  Learn more at www.amrapnutrition.com


The Neon Dash ... is coming to NYC!!!



Do I want to get involved?  YES!  Learn more at http://www.neondash.com/locations/newyorkcity/ ... details to come.


Avocado Oil Chips




I haven't really had potato chips in a looooong time, but when I was craving a serious crunch, I tried these out and fell in love.  I don't buy them often, but they're a decent option for when my crunchy munchies strike.


Tropical Traditions Lip Moisturizer



So many good oils, locking moisture into my lips! This little tube got me through the harsh winter that has finally passed, and my lips are grateful! 


OITNB.


 

TFIOS.

TGIF :) 

What are YOU loving lately?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

RUN! And run further. For a good cause.

Hey friends!

Today, June 4, is National Running Day!  Dare you to lace up and RUN in celebration!  

Why run?  Here's why and how I got started.  To answer the question this year of "Why I Run," I'll simply say that running makes me feel alive, and gives me something to work toward (hint, hint, big news below...)

Where?  Dare you to find a group run.

What else?  Dare you to pledge your miles!  You can put today's miles toward a charity at http://www.runningday.org/.

How am I celebrating?  I signed up for a race!  Eeeee



Background:  after taking a fitness (and blogging...) hiatus for the spring semester (as indicated in January, I was stepping back from intense and frequent training while I added new work-related stressors to my life), I'm finally ready to dive back in!

I've been lacing up, too, FINALLY! 

Recently, with the weather improving, I've dusted off my Garmin, gone out on a couple runs, and really enjoyed hitting the road again.  My friend, Jen, let me tag along as she trained for her first 5k run (which she ROCKED!), and she inspired me to jump back in to running, myself.  Having intentionally not pushed myself for several months, I've been feeling the itch to set a fitness goal again, and Jen found one for both of us.

I'll be joining her team for the Women's Health Run 10 Feed 10 10k race in September!

www.run10feed10.com
Why? It's my perfect goal distance, it's for a good cause, it's on a beautiful path, and it's with friends. What could be better?  I signed up last night and thus begin official training TODAY.  Perfect timing, no?

The Cause: Women's Health and FEED partnered together last year to create this race to help end hunger.  By participating in this 10k, I'm providing meals for those in need of food.  YOU can make a difference, too, by visiting our fundraising page to donate today! Every dollar helps.

Learn more at www.run10feed10.com.

www.FEEDprojects.com


For me, a running a 5k (or 3.1 miles) is doable, but it's also about my limit.  I can do more, but not without stopping (or becoming bored).  10k happens to be the longest I've ever run, back in 2011 when I participated in the "Home for the Holidays" Virtual 10k.  Even then, though, I stopped to walk (I hadn't trained for it, was mostly doing it for fun).  I'm great at run-walk intervals, but I'd love to use the summer improve my steady endurance for these 3-6 mile runs.

So that's my new goal!  I've got a 10k race to run, and I'd like to beat my time from my previous 10k time (1:08), which was accomplished back in my running heyday.  Time to run with purpose once again!

This morning, I'm planning to just go for a simple run for as long as I can (recovering from being a little under the weather), and then by this weekend I'll sort out the details of properly training for this thing.  So... More details on my plan still to come, but I'm super excited to have something I can work toward and aspire to this summer.

Do you have any summer fitness goals?
Have any training tips for turning my 5k to a 10k??