Collagen and biotin are often mentioned together, and with good reason: They’re both thought to support healthy skin, hair, and nails. Walk down any beauty aisle in your local pharmacy and you’ll likely see collagen and biotin supplements. But these two popular supplements are quite different, and they work rather differently in your body.
In this article, we’ll tell you all you need to know about the differences, similarities, and benefits of collagen and biotin.
Collagen is a fibrous protein – the most abundant protein in your body, in fact – that forms your body’s connective tissue: bones, cartilage, skin, tendons, and so on. About 30% of the total protein content in your body is made from collagen. Collagen is naturally produced in the body through the combining of amino acids with other nutrients including zinc, copper, and vitamin C. Because of the way it supports skin elasticity and hydration, some have lovingly referred to collagen as “the fountain of youth.” While that may be overstating the case a bit, there’s no doubt that collagen supports healthy hair, skin, and nails. The amount of collagen our bodies produce starts to decline after age 25, and other lifestyle factors, including smoking, spending too much time in the sun, and not getting enough sleep can reduce collagen production. In order to make up for the body’s decreased production, some people take collagen supplements.
Biotin is another term used for vitamin B7, which is an essential vitamin. When a vitamin is deemed “essential,” that means the body doesn’t produce it on its own, and therefore must get it through diet or supplementation. Like all B vitamins, biotin can be useful for converting the food we consume into the energy our bodies need to function. Biotin is especially useful for breaking down fats, carbs, and proteins.
In recent years, biotin has become increasingly popular as a supplement for its support of healthy hair, skin, and nails.
Collagen has been shown to promote nail health. In this study, for example, 25 participants ingested 2.5 g of collagen peptides once daily for 24 weeks. The results were promising: Those who took the collagen reported faster nail growth and stronger nails.
Collagen has also been shown to promote skin health, improving elasticity and hydration and reducing wrinkles. This randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study found that skin hydration was much improved in the group that took collagen compared to the placebo group.
Collagen supplementation has also been shown to be beneficial for people engaged in high intensity resistance training, leading to increased muscle strength. This study of young German men found that people who were engaged in resistance training while taking 15 g of collagen peptide had significant increases in fat-free mass compared to people taking placebos.
Biotin has many potential positive impacts. One seems to be that biotin can help strengthen your nails. One study found that 63% of participants saw improvements in their nail strength upon taking biotin supplements. The same study found a 25 percent increase in nail plate thickness among patients with what they described as “brittle” nails. This study, while small, yielded promising results for those hoping that biotin could support nail health.
Biotin also plays a major role in cellular energy metabolism, turning the food you eat into the energy your body needs to thrive. Biotin has also been shown to help regulate oxidative stress, while also playing a key role in immunological function. It’s important to remember, though, that more isn’t always better when it comes to biotin. Taking levels above 10 mg have been shown to affect lab values from blood tests.
There is very limited research regarding the relationship between biotin and hair. Of the research that does exist, there is limited evidence to suggest that biotin is effective at promoting hair growth. However, there does seem to be a correlation between biotin levels and overall hair health. In one study, 38% of women experiencing hair issues turned out to have inadequate biotin levels. Biotin supplementation, therefore, is considered useful for addressing hair issues only in cases where biotin deficiency is the problem. You should talk to a medical professional about assessing your biotin levels before proceeding with such a treatment. (Note: Biotin deficiency is exceedingly rare among those who consume a balanced diet.)
Moreover, there have been no direct clinical trials pertaining to collagen and hair. However, collagen has been shown to support skin health, including scalp health. A healthy scalp can prove essential for nourishing and maintaining hair follicles. Another word you should know is “keratin,” a protein vital for hair health. Consuming collagen can help you get the amino acids needed to support keratin production and hair health.
To really boost hair health, you should consider supplementing with keratin directly. Care/of offers a keratin supplement – dubbed “The Good Hair Day” – that supports hair fullness and shine. Read more about vitamins that support hair health in this thorough Care/of article.
When it comes to collagen and skin support, there’s much more research available to attest to collagen’s effectiveness. Collagen is a major part of skin’s structure and function, and it supports skin strength and elasticity. One 12-week study found that those who took 1,000 mg of oral collagen peptide had improved results in skin hydration, elasticity, and wrinkle appearance compared to those who took a placebo. Furthermore, this study reported improvements in skin health after 8 weeks of taking 2.5 to 5 g of collagen daily.
So, while biotin supplementation may support skin health for those experiencing a biotin deficiency, collagen is the better, more tested bet. If you want to learn more about vitamins that support skin health, you can take a look at this deep dive from Care/of.
Yes! There’s no problem with taking biotin and collagen together. They both support healthy skin, hair, and nails – but they function differently and aren’t in conflict with one another.
It’s generally recommended that you get between 30-100 mcg of biotin per day.
When it comes to collagen, the research about dosing is varied. The key, though, is to be consistent in how much you take. While some studies have evaluated results for participants who took 2-3 g per day, other studies have evaluated dosing of up to 15 g per day. Check out this Care/of article, “How Much Collagen Should You Take Per Day to Meet Your Health Goals?”, to learn more.
In general, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider about how much to take. You should also pay attention to the recommended dosages on the label!
Collagen is found in a number of tasty foods. For example, collagen is found abundantly in pot roast, brisket, steak, and other meats that are full of connective tissue like skin, tendons, bones, and so on. (But don’t make a habit of eating too much red meat, since this won’t serve your health in the long term.) The skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones of fish, beef, poultry, and pork are also rich in collagen. Bone broth and gelatin are both plentiful sources of collagen.
Furthermore, there are some foods you can eat that promote health collagen production in the body. Think of foods rich in vitamin C, zinc, protein, and copper: shellfish, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, citrus fruits, tomatoes, bell peppers, and more.
Good news: A great many foods are very rich in biotin. The foods that are richest in biotin include organ meats, eggs, fish, meat, seeds, nuts, and some vegetables (including sweet potatoes). Some other foods with a lot of biotin include certain fruits, such as bananas, avocados, and apples, as well as nuts, seeds, flowers, and whole grain. The biotin content of certain cereal grains depends on plant variety and season.
Biotin and collagen are both safe when taken at appropriate doses.
While biotin isn’t toxic at high doses, taking levels at or above 10 mg can interfere with certain lab tests, possibly leading to false negatives and false positives. Some of these tests include tests for hepatitis, HIV, b-HCG (a hormone present during pregnancy), and vitamin D. If you’re going to be taking any of these tests, you should let your doctor know about any biotin you’ve been supplementing with. That way your doctor can bear this in mind while interpreting test results, or even request that you take the test again after stopping biotin supplementation for a few weeks.
Collagen is produced naturally in the body and is very unlikely to cause any side effects. One study found that participants supplementing with collagen reported no side effects at all.
So, there you have it: Collagen and biotin are different, but they’re both important. Collagen is a protein that your body naturally makes – though production starts declining as you age – and biotin is an essential vitamin that must be consumed through your diet or as a supplement.
They’re often mentioned together, though, because they’re both popular supplements for supporting hair, skin, and nails – supporting beauty all-around. They can even be taken together without any complication or side effects; they function differently, and their benefits are achieved differently.
Is one better than the other? That’s not exactly the right question. The truth is, your body needs many different vitamins and minerals and proteins to be able to function at a high level. Biotin, like all B vitamins, helps your body convert food into energy. Collagen helps build your body’s connective tissue. Picking one over the other doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. However, if you’re looking to support your skin health, there is much more research to attest to collagen’s effectiveness. When it comes to hair health, both can play a role, but you may want to go straight for keratin supplementation instead. Care/of offers a top-notch collagen supplement, as well as a vegetarian option, made from eggshell membranes.
So, there’s no need to choose between biotin and collagen. We need both! Talk to your doctor about your particular needs and come up with a strategy that will work for you.