Biotin, also known as vitamin H or B7, and often grouped with the B-complex vitamins, is a water-soluble vitamin that can be produced in the body as well as obtained from foods.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular vitamins and minerals. It provides an in-depth look at recommended intake of biotin, the possible health benefits of consuming biotin, foods high in biotin and any potential health risks of consuming biotin.
The Adequate Intake (AI) for biotin is 30 micrograms per day for adults over 18 years of age. Biotin deficiency is rare in humans due to its wide distribution in foods and the ability to synthesize biotin in the gut.
Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that can be produced in the body as well as obtained from foods.
The most common cases of biotin deficiency that have been reported are in pregnant women, patients receiving prolonged parenteral (intravenous) nutrition, infants whose mothers milk contained low amounts of biotin and in patients with impaired biotin absorption due to an inflammatory bowel disease or other GI tract disorder.
Long-term use of anti-seizure medications such as phenobarbital, phenytoin, or carbamazepine can also reduced blood levels of biotin.
Biotin supplements are available, but it is best to obtain any vitamin or mineral through food. It is not the individual vitamin or mineral alone that make certain foods an important part of our diet, but the synergy of that foods nutrients working together.
It has been proven time and again that isolating certain nutrients in supplement form will not provide the same health benefits as consuming the nutrient from a whole food. First focus on obtaining your daily biotin requirement from foods then use supplements as a backup.
Possible health benefits of consuming biotin
Mild biotin deficiency is often seen during pregnancy and poses a risk for abnormal development of the fetus. Sincefolic acid supplementation is recommended both before and during pregnancy, obtain a multivitamin with at least 30 micrograms of biotin per day in addition to folic acid to decrease the risk for deficiency.
Biotin has been shown to improve nail strength and durability of fingernails in several small-scale studies. One study showed a 25% increase in thickness and a decrease of splitting with biotin supplementation. Another trial reported an improvement in nail strength for up to 91% of participants.
Lower blood glucose
Promising results have been seen in several studies testing biotin’s ability to lower blood glucose in both type 1 and type 2 diabetics. In animal studies, biotin was shown to stimulate the secretion of insulin from the pancreas and subsequently lower blood glucose. More studies need to be conducted before biotin’s effects on blood sugar can be confirmed.
Foods sources of biotin
Eggs are rich in biotin – one large egg contains 13-25 micrograms.
Foods that are rich in biotin include baker’s yeast, wheat bran, organ meats, eggs and oysters.
- Liver, cooked: 27-35 micrograms
- Egg, large, cooked: 13-25 micrograms
- Salmon, 3 ounces, cooked: 4-5 micrograms
- Raspberries, 1 cup: 0.2-2 micrograms
Many foods, such as fruits and vegetables, contain a small amount of biotin.
Potential health risks of consuming biotin
Large doses of biotin have no known toxic effects.
Written by Megan Ware, RDN, LD, registered dietitian and nutritionist