What is Biotin?
Biotin might sound scary, but it’s simply a form of vitamin B. It occurs naturally in many foods we eat, and it’s also available as a supplement.
In supplement form, it’s sold under the names Appearex, Biotina, Biotine, Coenzyme R, Vitamin B7, and Vitamin H. It is also included in many multivitamins and B-vitamin supplements.
The benefit of biotin is that it breaks some foods down into sugars that the body can then use for energy. It is also vital for healthy eyes, liver, nails, nervous system, and skin. It is also important to the healthy formation and development of foetuses.
Your body won’t store up biotin, so if your intake of it is not regular, you can develop a deficiency quite quickly. Luckily, it is found in many foods, and in multivitamins, so deficiencies are rare in most people. It can, however, occur more commonly in people who experience rapid weight loss, have poor diets, or are pregnant.
The symptoms of too little biotin are pretty clear, and include depression, dry skin, dry eyes, fatigue, hair loss, a scaly rash around eyes and/or mouth. Just one or two of these does not indicate a biotin deficiency, but it is worth seeing a doctor if you are concerned.
Some people take biotin as a precaution, hoping to avoid hair loss, brittle nails, or cradle cap in infants. Some also take it to manage the symptoms of diabetes, though this is off-label use, and has not been properly studied. There are studies, however, that suggest type 2 diabetes may partially be caused or worsened by a deficiency of nutrients, including biotin. Studies have also shown that biotin improves blood sugar and insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes, if taken along with chromium supplements. What research there is, indicates that taking biotin can benefit people with type 2 diabetes, and those who are obese.
Biotin for Hair Growth
One of the most popular uses for biotin in to encourage and support the growth of hair and nails, despite a lack of research either supporting or refuting how effective it may be. Since use is normally done through shampoo and other hair products, rather than ingestion of supplements, such use is unlikely to result in benefits. Taking biotin supplements with other medications for hair loss due to childhood alopecia, however, is backed by some research evidence.
You can view our hair, skin and nails supplement gummies that contain biotin here.
Biotin Side Effects
Biotin does not have any known side effects, and is nontoxic.
Biotin Warning Signs
Taking any supplement, including biotin, should be done in consultation with a doctor, especially if you are suffering from certain health conditions. You should make sure your doctor knows if you are on dialysis, if you smoke, eat raw egg whites regularly, take any kind of medication for seizures, or are consuming a long-term course of antibiotics.
Luckily, biotin itself is safe in most cases and does not have any known side effects. Before taking them though, be sure to tell your doctor if you are or may be pregnant, or are breastfeeding. It can sometimes interact with other medications too, so be clear if you are taking any. Also, never give biotin to a child without first consulting with your paediatrician or GP.
Biotin and Pregnancy / Breast feeding
There are no known problems with taking biotin when pregnant or breastfeeding, but it is still recommended that you check with a doctor first.
Some research indicates that animals with type 2 diabetes may see better regulation of blood glucose levels when on a supplement of biotin. Research in humans seems to support this, but is in its early stages and is not yet conclusive.
Similarly, animals with type 1 diabetes saw improved resistance to kidney damage when supplemented with biotin. Insulin-dependent humans with type 1 diabetes may see similar benefits, though research has not yet been completed.
You can view our biotin supplements for hair here.
Taking Biotin Supplements with Other Drugs
There are no known negative interactions between biotin and herbal medicines or other supplements. There are, however, some drugs that are known to reduce the levels of biotin in your body. If you are taking anti-seizure medications such as carbamazepine, phenobarbital, primidone, or phenytoin, or you have been on a long-term course of antibiotics, you should talk to your doctor about protecting against biotin deficiency.
Some non-medicinal behaviours may also reduce biotin levels. These include smoking cigarettes, and eating raw egg whites on a regular basis.
The most common doses of biotin are 10mcg (micrograms), 50mcg and 100mcg. There are few recommendations regarding the amount you should take, but here are some suggested ranges for each of the above doses:
- From birth to 8 years: 10mcg per day
- From 9 to 18 years: 20mcg per day
- Over age 18: 30mcg per day
During pregnancy and breastfeeding, 30mcg is also the suggested dose.
Always check with a doctor if giving a dose to a child, or if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Though biotin doesn’t normally have adverse effects, even in large doses, some people can still have allergic reactions to it, or to the inactive ingredients that make up the pill or capsule. If you experience an allergic reaction after taking biotin, contact medical advice immediately.
What if I Missed My Dose of Biotin?
If you miss a dose of biotin, take the missed dose as soon as you realise it. However, don’t double your dose if you remember only at the time of your next one. In that case, just take your daily dose as normal.
Biotin Deficiency in Pregnant Women
In rare cases, a pregnant woman may develop a deficiency of biotin. To make sure that the mother has all of the nutrients she needs to nourish the foetus, a prenatal vitamin that contains both biotin and folic acid is recommended. If not deficient, however, avoid high or unnecessary doses, as these can be dangerous to the foetus.
Are There Natural Sources of Biotin?
Biotin is not just found in supplements, and natural sources are always the best places to get biotin, of possible and sufficient. It is contained in a variety of foods, including bananas, cauliflowers, egg yolks, mushrooms, nuts and nut butters, organ meats, soy beans, and whole grains.
Cooking and other processes can sometimes render biotin ineffective, so for maximum biotin benefits, eat foods raw or lightly steamed.
Learn more about biotin food sources here.
We also published an article about the top 5 reasons to choose hair, skin and nails gummies here.