What is biotin?
Biotin belongs to the B vitamin complex and is sometimes also called vitamin H. Biotin helps your body process certain foods into sugars, for energy. It is also an important part of keeping certain types of cells healthy, and contributes to healthy nails, hair and skin. It also contributes to liver health. Biotin is especially important for pregnant women, as it facilitates foetal development.
Biotin is generally safe and non-toxic, but it does conflict with some medications, so supplements of biotin should not be taken without a doctor’s knowledge. Dietary sources of biotin are safe, however, and are part of healthy eating habits. Several common foods contain biotin and can be eaten to make sure appropriate biotin levels are maintained.
You can learn more about biotin here.
Almonds, like most nuts and legumes, are excellent sources of biotin. A dozen almonds a day can keep your biotin at a healthy level. You could also use soybeans, peanuts, green beans, walnuts, and pecans.
Cauliflower is not only delicious and nutritious; it also contains about 17 mcg of biotin in a single serving. Most people should get about eight to ten times that much in a day, so this is a good start.
It does matter how you cook it though. Biotin is water-soluble, so if you boil the food you’re getting biotin from, much of it will be lost in the water. It’s better to roast it, or even fry it, to get the most benefit.
Most people will be very happy to hear that cheese and other dairy products contain substantial amounts of biotin as well. The most concentration was found in blue cheese and Camembert, but American cheese and cheddar are also good sources.
Egg yolks contain biotin as well. Even though cooking reduces the total amount of biotin recoverable from egg yolks, they should always be cooked to avoid dangerous contaminants.
Mushrooms use biotin to protect themselves from predators and parasitic attackers. You can gain these same benefits from eating the mushrooms! Unlike the egg yolks, you can eat mushrooms raw, so try them as a snack, or sliced up in salads and other foods. If you don’t like them raw, frying them with rice is a delicious alternative.
Spinach has long been known as a healthy food and – no surprise – it is also rich in biotin. In fact, it has one of the highest levels of biotin of all of the foods listed here. Freezing doesn’t deplete biotin, so you can buy spinach fresh or frozen, and use it in a variety of ways to get the benefits of biotin and the other nutrients and fibre it contains.
Finally, sweet potatoes also contain high levels of biotin, and taste delicious. The benefits of biotin are coupled with those of the beta carotene to make sweet potatoes one of the best foods for improving and maintaining the healthy appearance of your skin.
You can even combine these biotin-rich foods for a medley of tasty and healthy ingredients that will boost your levels.
Potential risks and complications
Biotin on its own is safe and non-toxic, even in higher-than-recommended levels. That doesn’t mean that biotin supplements should be taken without consulting a doctor though. Biotin supplements can cause medications to become less effective, or even negate their benefits entirely.
Taking biotin late at night can also throw off your natural sleep cycles. If you have any trouble sleeping, be mindful to take biotin – and any other multivitamin or B vitamin supplements – in the morning, so that they can move through your system prior to the time you plan to sleep.
Alternative sources of biotin
Biotin doesn’t just come directly from food. It is also produced by the process of digestion in the intestines. It can also be found in supplement form, as a pill, capsule, liquid, or powder. Many products that are advertised as being beneficial to the health or appearance of your skin, hair, and/or nails probably also contain biotin as one of their main active ingredients.
Here at Yumi Nutrition, we produce a specialised product for your hair, skin and nails, taken in a daily vitamin gummy that's tasty and easy to chew. Learn more about it here.
Most people don’t suffer from ill effects due to biotin deficiency, but it doesn’t hurt to be mindful of this helpful vitamin and to make sure you are consuming biotin-rich foods or supplements as part of your healthy diet.
If your skin, hair, or nails aren’t looking their best, or if your nails or hair are brittle, then it could be due to biotin deficiency. There are other possibilities, so it is best to consult your doctor. In any case, eating more biotin-rich foods will be a safeguard, and will assist in any efforts your doctor prescribes. Just be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking any supplements, like vitamin pills or powders.
You can also see our 5 reasons to choose a hair supplement here.