Most people know biotin as a hair vitamin that promotes hair growth, and that also supports healthy skin and strengthens brittle nails. Biotin is actually an essential nutrient for a healthy body and has many other benefits as well.
In this article we’ll look at 10 biotin benefits, and side effects that you need to be aware of.
What Is Biotin?
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin, which means the body doesn’t store it.
A large variety of food contain biotin. Common food sources of biotin, are:
|Beef liver||30.8 mcg per 3 ounces|
|Eggs||10.0 mcg for whole, cooked egg|
|Salmon - canned in water||5.0 mcg per 3 ounces|
|Pork chops||3.8 mcg per 3 ounces|
|Roasted sunflower seeds||2.6 mcg per ¼ cup|
|Sweet potatoes||2.4 mcg per ½ cup|
|Roasted almonds||1.5 mcg per ¼ cup|
|Tuna - canned in water||0.6 mcg per 3 ounces|
|Boiled spinach||0.5 mcg per ½ cup|
|Fresh broccoli||0.4 mcg per ½ cup|
|Cheddar cheese||0.4 mcg per 1 ounce|
|Milk||0.3 mcg per 2%, 1 cup|
|Oatmeal||0.2 mcg per 1 cup|
|Bananas||0.2 mcg per ½ cup|
|Plain yogurt||0.2 mcg per 1 cup|
Credit: Office of Dietary Supplements, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Other biotin food sources, include:
Peanuts, walnuts, cauliflower, carrots, soybeans, white mushrooms, whole grains, wheat germ, tomatoes, chicken, and lettuce.
What Is The Recommended Daily Value (DV) Of Biotin?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) develops Daily Values (DVs) to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of their total diet.
The recommended daily value (DV) for adults, and pregnant teens and women, is 30 mcg.
The recommended daily value (DV) for breastfeeding teens and women is 35 mcg.
Biotin Deficiency Symptoms
Biotin deficiency is very rare in the United States.
Typical symptoms of a biotin deficiency, include:
- Thinning hair and hair loss.
- Skin rashes, especially around the eyes, nose, and mouth.
- High levels of acid in the blood and urine.
- Skin infections.
- Brittle nails.
- Possible nervous system disorders.
A biotin deficiency can also slow down the body’s metabolism, leading to:
- Tiredness (despite getting enough sleep).
- Digestive problems.
- Weight gain.
Biotin Deficiency Causes
Most people get enough biotin from the food they eat.
However, certain groups of people are more likely than others to have trouble getting enough biotin, such as:
- People with a rare genetic disorder called “biotinidase deficiency.”
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- People with an alcohol dependence problem.
- Heavy smokers.
- People with a genetic disorder, such as Crohn’s disease, that affects biotin metabolism.
- People with inflammatory bowel diseases.
- People that are being treated (for at least one year) with anti-seizure medications for epilepsy.
Why or when do you need a high dosage biotin vitamin?
If most people get enough biotin from the food they eat, and if the recommended daily value (DV) for adults is only 30 mcg, why do you need to take a high dosage biotin vitamin?
Certain biotin benefits are only achieved when you orally take a high dosage of biotin.
This is especially the case for people that are looking for a hair vitamin that can stimulate hair growth, or a vitamin that can help for brittle nails, lowering blood triglyceride levels, help for biotin-responsive basal ganglia disease, or multiple sclerosis.
1) Gives You Energy
Biotin is involved in the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids, and carbohydrates. It helps turn the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the food you eat into the energy you need.
2) Hair Growth
Thinning hair, and hair loss, can have many causes. The number one cause is hereditary, although stress can also play a big part. And, as we age, our hair often loses its luster, radiance, and volume.
In one study, women with thinning hair were given an oral marine protein supplement (MPS), that included biotin, or a placebo (harmless substance with no therapeutic effect), twice per day for 90 days. The study showed a significant increase in hair growth, and hair retention, for women who took the MPS, compared to women who only took the placebo.
3) Supports Healthy Skin
A biotin deficiency can cause skin rashes, especially around the eyes, nose, and mouth. Since biotin is required for normal cellular functions, and the synthesis of fatty acids that nourish the skin, it can help to protect the skin from rashes, and cracking.
4) Stronger Nails
Brittle nails is a common condition, estimated to affect around 20 percent of the world's population.
Studies have shown that taking biotin can, in fact, strengthen weak, brittle nails.
A study from Switzerland demonstrated a 25 percent increase in nail plate thickness over a six-month period in patients with brittle nails who received biotin supplementation.
5) Supports Healthy Immune System
Biotin is important for a healthy immune system. It’s necessary for white blood cell development. A biotin deficiency can result in an impaired immune function, and lead to an increased risk of infection.
6) Contributes To a Healthy Heart
Biotin is required for normal fat metabolism, which is critical for a healthy heart.
High doses of biotin (15,000 mcg per day) can also be effective in lowering blood triglyceride concentrations in people with high triglyceride levels.
In addition, preliminary research suggests that biotin may also play a role in lowering cholesterol levels, by reducing LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
7) Promotes Brain and Memory Function
Biotin contributes to healthy nerve functions. It facilitates nerve impulse conduction, by allowing nerve impulses to move more quickly.
High doses of biotin (5,000 mcg to 10,000 mcg) has also shown to help people that have biotin-responsive basal ganglia disease, a rare brain disease that can lead to seizures, confusion, and abnormal coordination.
8) Helps multiple sclerosis-related impairments
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder. Studies have found that very high doses of biotin may reverse the progression of the disease, and improve symptoms in people who are suffering from progressive multiple sclerosis.
9) Helps Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
Biotin helps regulate or lower blood sugar levels by increasing insulin production.
10) Helps to Repair Damaged Body Tissues
B-complex vitamins, such as vitamin B7 or biotin, are the building blocks of a healthy body. As such, biotin helps to repair damaged body tissues and muscles. And, it also helps to reduce inflammation.
Biotin Side Effects
Biotin is considered very safe. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, part of the National Institutes of Health, biotin has not been shown to cause any harm. The main reason is that it’s a water-soluble vitamin that’s not stored in the body, so any excess biotin is simply excreted from the body through urine.
Even for very large doses of up to 300 milligrams (mg) or 300,000 micrograms (mcg) per day, to treat multiple sclerosis, no toxicity has been reported, and it has not caused any adverse side effects.
However, biotin supplements may interfere with lab test results. Tests for thyroid or hormone levels, vitamin D levels, and cardiac troponin levels (used to diagnose heart attacks) may give false test results due to the presence of biotin. Since this could potentially be dangerous, it’s necessary to disclose biotin supplement usage to a physician or dietitian before going for a routine lab test, to avoid a potential misdiagnoses.
Most people can take a 10,000 mcg biotin supplement without any adverse side effects. In very rare cases, minor side effects are possible. These include: nausea, cramping, and diarrhea.
Cystic acne (that develops along the chin and jawline) may also occur when very large doses of biotin are taken as it may affect the absorption of vitamin B5, which helps control acne. So, the less vitamin B5 you have in your body, the more acne-prone you can become.
Disclaimer: The above statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.