What is Biotin? Health Benefits, Recommended Intake, Sources, and More

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Biotin plays a major role in helping your body convert food into usable energy. This complex B-vitamin is abundant in a broad range of foods, including whole grains, organ meats, eggs, legumes, oysters, and mushrooms among others.

However, though biotin is present in a number of foods, not everyone can consume enough of them regularly. When this happens, taking a biotin supplement is a smart way to take advantage of the many health benefits of biotin.

What Is Biotin?

Biotin, also known as Vitamin B7, is a vital nutrient that’s naturally present in some foods and available as a dietary supplement. This water-soluble vitamin is a cofactor for five carboxylases that catalyze critical steps in the metabolism of amino acids, glucose, and fatty acids. Biotin also plays a crucial role in gene regulation and cell signaling. It also plays an important role in the health of your hair, nails, and skin.

If you aren’t getting enough biotin, you may experience a scaly red rash or hair loss. However, a biotin deficiency is rare. In most cases, the biotin you get from your diet is enough for you to reap the benefits it offers.

Still, many people increase their intake in hopes of additional benefits.

Biotin Health Benefits

Listed below are 7 impressive health benefits of biotin.

  1. Strengthens your hair and promotes hair growth. Though there is minimal research to support the effects of biotin on hair growth, there’s strong evidence to support that a deficiency in this vitamin will cause hair loss[1].

To date, there’s only limited evidence to suggest that increased biotin intake may help promote hair growth. For instance, in one study, women with thinning hair were given a placebo pill and an oral marine protein supplement (MPS) that contained biotin twice per day for 90 days. At the start and end of the study, the researchers took digital images of the affected areas on the scalp. Each participant’s hair was also washed and any hair shed was counted. The researchers found that women who took an MPS experienced a significant amount of hair growth in the areas affected by hair loss and that they experienced less shedding.

  • Strengthens your nails and prevent breakage. Along with strengthening your hair and promoting hair growth, biotin is also known for its ability to strengthen nails and prevent breakage. In fact, higher doses of biotin have resulted in significant nail health improvement.

Studies have shown that people who take a biotin supplement can thicken their nails by up to 25% and decrease the amount of nail splitting and breakage. Trial studies have also revealed that an impressive 91% of participants experience improved nail strength when taking a biotin supplement[2].

  • Supports your metabolism. Biotin plays a crucial role in supporting your metabolic function. It works as a co-enzyme to help break down food, including protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Further, this reaction is accelerated when biotin is paired with chromium picolinate. Your resting metabolic rate is elevated and food breaks down faster when consuming biotin, which is where there is a link to biotin and weight loss. However, research is still preliminary and biotin in no way acts as a weight loss pill. Note that it’s still important to pair the supplement with regular exercise and a healthy diet to make sure you meet your weight loss goals.
  • Protects your brain. Along with the other B-vitamins, biotin keeps your nervous system in working order by helping with nerve signals and assisting with neurotransmitter activity. Together, the B vitamins also improve your memory, protect your brain, and help form a defense against neurodegenerative disorders and cognitive issues. Along with preventing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, biotin and the other B Vitamins can also help improve your concentration.
  • Assists cell growth. On top of making you look great, biotin also helps with some of your body’s most essential functions. One of biotin’s main roles is to regulate DNA formation. This ensures that the genetic information in each cell functions properly and replicates correctly. Though strong cell development is always important, it is especially vital when your cells are rapidly dividing, such as during pregnancy.

Note that biotin supplements provide you with a sufficient supply of this vitamin. However, once it travels through your bloodstream, your body eliminates any excess biotin. That means that your body never builds up a toxic reserve of this vitamin, and overconsuming it is nearly impossible.

  • Promotes fetal development. Biotin is crucial for many bodily functions, and it’s especially important for pregnant women. Although rare, pregnant women may become biotin deficient[3]. To help promote fetal development and health, pregnant women are often recommended to take prenatal vitamins that contains both folic acid and biotin. However, note that high doses of biotin can be dangerous to the baby, so always consult your doctor to ensure that you’re taking the recommended amount.
  • Boosts mood and energy. One of the main functions of biotin is its ability to metabolize fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. This vitamin also functions as a coenzyme and assists in synthesizing certain amino acids and fatty acids. Without the B complex vitamins, your body can’t utilize the energy that your body consumes.

Since biotin and the other B vitamins play a key role in converting nutrients into fuel that your body can use, a lack of biotin can cause you to feel an energy slump. In fact, it may lead to mood swings, feelings of fatigue, and even digestive issues. If you don’t receive a steady supply of biotin from your daily diet, a biotin supplement can help you get the energy you’re missing and help you get your mood back on a positive track.

How Much Biotin Can You Take?

The table below shows how much biotin you can take depending on your age[4].

AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
Birth to 6 months5 mcg5 mcg
7–12 months6 mcg6 mcg
1–3 years8 mcg8 mcg
4–8 years12 mcg12 mcg
9–13 years20 mcg20 mcg
14–18 years25 mcg25 mcg30 mcg35 mcg
19+ years30 mcg30 mcg30 mcg35 mcg

Biotin Deficiency

Biotin deficiency is rare, and severe biotin deficiency in healthy individuals who eat a normal mixed diet hasn’t been reported.

The signs and symptoms of biotin deficiency typically appear slowly and can include:

  • Thinning hair
  • Loss of hair on the body
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Ketolactic acidosis
  • Skin infection
  • Red rash around body openings (eyes, nose, mouth)
  • Brittle nails
  • Seizures
  • Neurological findings (depression, hallucinations, lethargy)
  • Development delay in infants

How Can You Get Biotin?

Biotin is a vital nutrient that’s naturally present in some foods and available as a dietary supplement.

Food Sources. You’re probably already getting the daily recommended amount of biotin from the foods that you eat. But, if you’d like to increase your biotin intake, you can add more biotin-rich foods into your daily diet. Several food sources of biotin are listed on the table below[4].

FoodMicrograms (mcg) per servingPercent DV*
Beef liver, cooked, 3 ounces30.8103
Egg, whole, cooked10.033
Salmon, pink, canned in water, 3 ounces5.017
Pork chop, cooked, 3 ounces3.813
Hamburger patty, cooked, 3 ounces3.813
Sunflower seeds, roasted, ¼ cup2.69
Sweet potato, cooked, ½ cup2.48
Almonds, roasted, ¼ cup1.55
Tuna, canned in water, 3 ounces0.62
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup0.52
Broccoli, fresh, ½ cup0.41
Cheddar cheese, mild, 1 ounce0.41
Milk, 2%, 1 cup0.31
Plain yogurt, 1 cup0.21
Oatmeal, 1 cup0.21
Banana, ½ cup0.21
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice0.00
Apple, ½ cup0.00

Biotin Supplements. Biotin is available in dietary supplements that only contain biotin, in supplements that contain combinations of B-complex vitamins, and in some multivitamin products. Some biotin supplements you can find in the market include:

  • Carlson Biotin 5,000 mcg. A biotin supplement that provides 5,000 mcg of biotin. Supports energy function, metabolic function, and promotes healthy hair, nails, and skin.
  • Piping Rock Max Biotin 10,000 mcg. A dietary supplement that helps improve hair, nail, and skin health. Each serving delivers 10,000 mcg of this essential B-vitamin.
  • Youtheory Collagen Plus Biotin. A collagen and biotin supplement for youthful, healthy skin from the inside out.
  • Nature’s Bounty Hair, Skin & Nails Gummies with Biotin. A beauty supplement packed as delicious gummies. Each serving contains 2,500 mcg of biotin. Supports hair, nail, and skin health.

Who Should Take Biotin?

Anyone can take biotin as it is treated as a dietary supplement. Plus, since it’s found in most foods, you may already be meeting your daily requirements simply by consuming a nutrient-rich diet. Biotin is also safe for pregnant women; however, it’s always best to check with your doctor to check what dosage is right for you.

Biotin can be found in multivitamins, B-complex supplements, or in pure tablet form and is available over-the-counter.

The Bottom Line

Biotin, also known as Vitamin B7, is a vital nutrient that’s naturally present in some foods and available as a dietary supplement. It plays a major role in helping your body convert food into usable energy and offers numerous health benefits.

Some of the health benefits of biotin include strengthening hair and nails, supporting your metabolism, assisting cell growth, and boosting mood and energy, among others.

You can get biotin from the foods that you eat, including whole grains, organ meats, eggs, tuna, almonds, milk, and more. If you’re looking to increase your biotin intake, you can also consider taking a biotin supplement. Always consult your doctor before taking any supplement.

Disclaimer:

The information on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All information contained on this website is for general information purposes only.

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