Biotin is a member of the B-complex family of vitamins. If you have dermatitis, dry skin, thinning hair, loss of hair color or brittle nails, you may be short in biotin. Biotin is sometimes referred to as vitamin H which is appropriate given that the “H” is short for “Haar und Haut” – the German words for “hair and skin”. Biotin is often recommended for strengthening hair and nails.
Although biotin is found naturally in many foods, the amounts are not appreciable. Unlike some other vitamins which we must obtain through diet or supplementation (e.g., vitamin C), biotin is manufactured by the beneficial bacteria in the gut so deficiencies are not common.
Biotin is critical to the formation of fatty acids and glucose. This B-vitamin is also involved in the metabolism of amino acids and carbohydrates.
Biotin works synergistically with the other B-vitamins. Vitamin B-5 (pantothenic acid) works together with biotin in many metabolic instances.
When fatty acids can’t be made properly due to a deficiency in biotin, then cells that turnover rapidly, like skin cells, are the first to become negatively affected. Skin related problems are the most common biotin deficiency-related symptoms including seborrheic dermatitis in adults (a common condition associated with oily skin and dandruff) and cradle cap in infants. Babies that suffer from cradle cap can benefit from biotin either through breast fed milk or through direct supplementation. Researchers theorize that a biotin deficiency in infants is due to the absence of beneficial bacteria which manufacture this B-vitamin.
Given its role in the utilization of glucose, supplementing with biotin can improve glucose management in Type 2 diabetics. Biotin (along with chromium) enhances insulin sensitivity and increases the activity of the enzyme that supports the utilization of glucose by the liver. Biotin also helps to treat peripheral neuropathy, a nerve pathology that can result from diabetes.
Major Functions of Biotin
- Essential for normal metabolism of fat and protein
- Aids in cell growth and fatty acid production
- Aids in utilization of other B-complex vitamins
- Necessary for healthy hair, skin and nails
- Aids in treatment of seborrheic dermatitis
The richest sources of biotin are nuts and legumes (peanuts, filberts, almonds, peanut butter). Eggs are a good source but biotin is concentrated in the yolk. Liver and yeast are also rich sources of biotin.
Chicken, turkey, and beef are all good sources of biotin. Good plant sources include broccoli, cabbage, leafy green vegetables, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower, bananas, avocados, and raspberries.
Recommended Dietary Allowance
A Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for biotin has not been established. Instead, an Adequate Intake (AI) of 30 mcg has been established for adults. A Tolerable Upper Intake Level for biotin has not been determined due to lack of data due to adverse events. It is not uncommon to find hair, skin & nail formulas formulated with 2,000-5,000 mcgs of biotin. Even at these levels which are much higher than the AI, biotin appears to be very safe and well-tolerated.
If you look on a nutritional supplement facts panel, you’ll notice the Amount Per Serving for biotin and the % Daily Values is at located at the top of the panel. The Amount Per Serving is based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for this nutrient which is considered to be sufficient to meet the requirements of nearly all (97–98%) healthy individuals in each life-stage and sex group. The Reference Daily Intake for biotin is 300 mcg which represents 100% of the Daily Values.
Antibiotics may lower biotin levels as these medications eliminate beneficial bacteria in the gut. Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to a biotin deficiency as alcohol inhibits the absorption and utilization of biotin.
Given its role in metabolism and in maintaining healthy hair, skin and nails, biotin is incorporated into our Recovery and Anti-Aging product formulations.
As with all our multi-nutrient formulas, the water-soluble vitamins are formulated in both our morning and evening products. However, the B-vitamins, including biotin, are more heavily weighted in our morning (e.g., Clinical Support Morning and Energy Support) versus our evening (Clinical Support Evening and Bone Support) formulations.
Recovery Support Program and Multi-Vitamin & Mineral, are both formulated with 375 mcg of biotin. Anti-Aging Formula is formulated with 250 mcg of this B-vitamin.
Last updated January 15, 2019
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.