An essential B vitamin, biotin not only helps the body convert food into energy, but it may support healthy hair and nails. To learn about biotin's role in well-being, and how to increase your intake, keep reading.
Formally known as vitamin B7, biotin is a water-soluble compound found in foods such as bananas, eggs, and milk. It is one of many “essential vitamins” because it helps to convert food into energy. The compound works alongside enzymes in the digestive system to break down different food groups (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) into smaller metabolites.
Without biotin, the body would not function correctly, making a balanced intake crucial to mental and physical well-being. However, because the vitamin is water-soluble, the body cannot store it for later use. The only way to experience the benefits of biotin is through supplements or a varied and balanced diet.
Although a biotin deficiency is rare in healthy individuals, there are a few key symptoms to keep an eye out for. These include:
• Thinning hair
• Dry skin
• Brittle nails
• Patches of red skin
Interestingly, people who consume large amounts of egg whites may also be at risk of biotin deficiency. This is because eggs contain avidin, a protein that binds with biotin, preventing the body from using it. The good news is that cooking eggs (however you like them in the morning) stops avidin from disrupting biotin absorption.
We highlighted that biotin plays a crucial role in energy production, but according to preclinical studies, that may not be the vitamin's only potential benefit.
The link between biotin and hair growth is interesting because, from a scientific standpoint, there isn't a clear correlation between biotin intake and increased hair growth.
However, we know that lacking biotin can cause hair thinning and loss. Therefore, it's likely that biotin does support hair growth, at least in people with a biotin deficiency. There are also several types of biotin-containing foods to consider. Many of these have secondary nutrients and vitamins that may support hair growth.
During pregnancy, it's believed that the body breaks down biotin much faster than usual, leading to a potential deficit in pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. While most cases may only be mild and asymptomatic, it's still important to ensure healthy biotin levels. In fact, a biotin fact sheet published by the National Library of Medicine estimates that as many as "half of the pregnant women in the US are marginally biotin deficient".
Fortunately, increasing your biotin intake is straightforward with a few small changes to diet or through supplementation. However, discussing the implications with a doctor or physician first is essential to ensure it meets your wellness needs.
Although we only have animal model studies to examine, evidence suggests biotin has links to insulin resistance. The vitamin, alongside chromium and picolinate "reduced the incidence of infections in type 2 diabetes patients". However, given the sophistication of the vitamin complex, it's difficult determining how much of that influence can be attributed to biotin.
While initial studies point to a potential mechanism of action, more comprehensive placebo-controlled human trials are needed before we can define the relationship between biotin and blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes.
Another common symptom of biotin deficiency is brittle, split, or cracked nails. In these circumstances, biotin supplements or an increased intake of biotin-rich foods can help to alleviate symptoms.
However, there isn't any extensive research to suggest that the nail integrity of healthy individuals will benefit from increased biotin levels. If you suspect you're suffering from a biotin deficiency, it's best to consult a medical professional for case-specific advice.
Most healthy individuals will get more than enough biotin from a balanced and varied diet. That said, particular at-risk groups could do with increasing their biotin intake.
The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) recommends the following as an adequate daily intake:
• Children (1–18 years): 6–25mcg
• Adults (19+ years): 30mcg
• Pregnant adults: 30–35mcg
With an idea of how much biotin we should consume, it makes sense to cover the most abundant sources of essential vitamin B7.
Naturally rich sources of biotin include:
85g of beef liver (cooked): 30.8mcg
85g of pink salmon: 5mcg
1 whole egg (cooked): 10mcg
64g of sweet potato (cooked): 2.4mcg
32g of sunflower seeds: 2.6mcg
We would always recommend trying to get enough biotin from a balanced and varied diet; however, if you aren't a fan of the foods listed, biotin supplements are an excellent way to keep levels topped up.
Of course, like all natural supplements, the key is to buy from a reputable manufacturer, preferably one that publishes an ingredients list with verified ratios. This is the best way to ensure your supplements meet your wellness needs.
The great news about biotin is that the vitamin is considered incredibly safe, with doses of up to 300mg well-tolerated. If you compare that dose to the levels your body needs to function correctly, the risk of possible side effects is very low.
That said, everyone reacts differently to increased levels of vitamins and minerals, so always start with a mild dose of biotin to see how it makes you feel. If you take too much biotin, you needn't worry, as the vitamin's water-soluble nature means the body will expel any excess when you urinate.
In most healthy individuals, biotin supplements may not provide noticeable benefits. However, if your diet is lacking in biotin-rich foods, or you belong to one of the aforementioned at-risk groups, then biotin supplements can help to reduce the severity of symptoms linked to biotin deficiency.
Perhaps one of the best ways to experience biotin is as part of complex formulas. Not only does this ensure your body gets all the vitamin B7 it needs, but you'll benefit from secondary vitamins, minerals, and botanicals. Provided you buy high-quality supplements, there's little reason not to experiment with biotin to see how it impacts your physical well-being.
Visit the Cibdol store to browse a selection of top-quality biotin-containing supplements. Or, to learn more about the role of vitamins and minerals in well-being, head to our Education section for everything you need to know.
 Office of dietary supplements - biotin. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Biotin-HealthProfessional/. Published 2022. Accessed July 27, 2022. [Source]
 Ablon G. A 3-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the ability of an extra-strength marine protein supplement to promote hair growth and decrease shedding in women with self-perceived thinning hair. Dermatology Research and Practice. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/drp/2015/841570/. Published March 25, 2015. Accessed July 27, 2022. [Source]
 Saleem F, Soos MP. Biotin Deficiency. National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books. Published 2022. Accessed July 27, 2022. [Source]
 Valdés-Ramos R, Guadarrama-López AL, Martínez-Carrillo BE, Benítez-Arciniega AD. Vitamins and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Endocrine, metabolic & immune disorders drug targets. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4435229/. Published 2015. Accessed July 27, 2022. [Source]