Biotin: A Complete Guide

Biotin: A Complete Guide

If you simply want to realize the importance of vitamins & minerals in your lives, then it is simply concise in just few lines.

In 2004, economists from a Danish think-tank stated that;

“Investments in micronutrients (vitamins & minerals) have higher returns than those from investments in trade liberalization, in malaria, or in water and sanitation […] No other technology offers as large an opportunity to improve lives at such a low cost and in such a short time.”

Vitamin B7 or biotin is one of the B complex vitamins that help your body convert food into energy. The word “biotin” comes from the ancient Greek word “biotos,” which means “life” or “sustenance.”

Also, it was historically called vitamin H after the German word haut, meaning “skin.” It’s an essential nutrient that is naturally present in some foods and available as a dietary supplement.

But, how much biotin is enough, where can you get it, and what can it really do for you?

Read further to check out the detailed overview of biotin and its scientifically proven benefits

Functions

Biotin acts as a coenzyme in numerous chemical reactions and performs the following functions;

  • Helps in fatty acid synthesis
  • Helps in amino acid metabolism and glucose formation
  • Nourishes skin cells by improving fat metabolism
  • Helps skin oil glands to function properly
  • Nourishes skin cells by improving fat metabolism
  • Regulates blood glucose levels
  • Helps in fetal development

Rich Dietary Sources

Compared to the other water-soluble B vitamins, biotin doesn’t have as much intense research behind its content in food. Some rich dietary sources are:

  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Salmon
  • Almonds
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes

Your gut microbiota (good bacteria) also produces small amounts of biotin.

Recommended Daily Amount (RDA)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has established the recommended daily amount (RDA) for biotin at 30mcg for adult men and women. This RDA increases to 30mcg for women who are pregnant and 35mcg for lactating women.

Selected Food Sources

Consume the following foods of your choice (selected from NIH fact sheet) to fulfill your recommended daily dose (30mcg) of biotin.

Food

Servings

Biotin (mcg)

Beef liver, cooked

3 ounces

30.8     

Egg, whole, cooked

1

10.0

Salmon, pink, canned in water

3 ounce

5.0

Hamburger patty, cooked

3 ounce

3.8

Sunflower seeds, roasted         

 ¼ cup

2.6

Sweet potato, cooked

½ cup

2.4

Almonds, roasted

¼ cup

1.5

Food

Servings

Biotin (mcg)

Beef liver, cooked

3 ounces

30.8     

Egg, whole, cooked

1

10.0

Salmon, pink, canned in water

3 ounce

5.0

Hamburger patty, cooked

3 ounce

3.8

Sunflower seeds, roasted         

 ¼ cup

2.6

Sweet potato, cooked

½ cup

2.4

Almonds, roasted

¼ cup

1.5

 

 

If you’re unable to get enough biotin from natural resources, a supplement may be suggested. Full fill your recommended daily amount of biotin (30mcg) by wisely consuming biotin and multivitamin supplements.

Deficiency

Biotin deficiency is relatively rare. However, the risk is greatest among people ingesting antiepileptic medications and in infants who are fed formula low in biotin (worldwide survey of neonatal screening). 

People with chronic alcoholism are among those who most likely to have inadequate biotin status as chronic exposure to alcohol inhibits the absorption of biotin (1).

Moreover, at least a third of pregnant and breastfeeding women are also develop biotin deficiency even when their dietary biotin intakes exceed the AI (Adequate Intake) (2)(3).

According to the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, untreated biotin deficiency may lead to;

  • Thinning hair with progression to loss of all hair on the body
  • Scaly and red rash around body openings (eyes, nose, mouth)
  • Seizures
  • Skin infection
  • Brittle nails
  • Neurological problems, such as intellectual disability, depression, lethargy seizures
  • Loss of muscle coordination

Side Effects and Toxicity

At high doses, biotin does not have any known adverse effects as there is no evidence in humans that biotin is toxic at high intakes or any symptoms of toxicity (4).

Benefits of Biotin Supplements

A research study conducted in 23 consecutive patients suggests that biotin may help to improve symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis (a disease of the brain and spinal cord).

Other beneficial impacts of biotin supplements are listed below.

Biotin & Fetal Development

Although rare, but multiple studies show that pregnant and lactating women may become biotin deficient (5)(6)(7). So, biotin supplements may help pregnant women to promote fetal development.

Biotin & Diabetes

Research studies, including animal studies, suggest that people with type 2 diabetes may benefit from taking biotin supplements to help regulate their blood glucose levels (8)(9).

According to another study performed on animals, biotin may help prevent kidney damage in people with insulin-dependent type 1 diabetes (10).

Biotin & Hair Health

In one research study, women with thin hair were given oral supplements containing biotin twice per day for 90 days. The researcher found that women who took supplements containing biotin experienced a significant amount of hair growth and also had less shedding (11).

Another research study in 2012 investigated the benefits of biotin for hairs, and the researcher produced similar results. Participants perceived improvement in hair growth and shine quality (12).

Biotin & Nails Health

In one research study, people with brittle nails were given 2.5 mg of biotin per day. The results found improved nail thickness by 25% in all participants. Nail splitting was also reduced (13).

Another research study of 35 people with brittle nails found that 2.5 mg of biotin per day improved their symptoms (14).

Moreover, a recent study from Switzerland reports that vitamin B7 supplements may improve brittle nails in women.

Biotin & Skin Health

Studies showed that biotin improves fat metabolism, which is important for the skin and maybe impaired when biotin is lacking (15).

Some studies also suggest that biotin deficiency may sometimes cause skin disorder (16)(17).

Recommended Biotin Supplements

Dietary supplements are the much easy way to get all the vitamins you need without having to over think about which foods contain which vitamins.

Biotin is available in dietary supplements containing biotin only, or in supplements containing combinations of B-complex vitamins, and in some multivitamin/multimineral products. According to a research study, the absorption rate of oral, free biotin is 100%, even when people consume pharmacologic doses of up to 20 mg/day biotin (18).

Here are recommended biotin supplements that are a simple, discrete and delicious way to take a daily healthy dose of optimal biotin;

  • Biotin Gummies
  • B-complex Gummies
  • Multivitamin Gummies
  • Whole Food Multivitamins