Last updated on May 29th, 2022 at 05:42 pm
We all want luxurious hair, supple skin, and strong, healthy nails, those attributes that shout out to the world how young and vibrant we are. But sometimes, a healthy diet isn’t enough to ensure this. This is where the health benefits of biotin and the best biotin supplements come into play. But what is biotin, and how can it help areas like hair loss and hair health? How do we get enough biotin? Read on to find out more.
What is Biotin?
Biotin is a b vitamin known as vitamin B. Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin found naturally in food but can also be taken in supplement form.(1) Essentially, it helps the body convert food into energy by aiding the enzymes to break down food’s fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Your body also needs healthy Biotin levels to produce keratin. Keratin is the type of protein that makes up hair, skin, and nails.
Biotin Daily Needs
The food and nutrition board at the National Academies of the Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine usually sets a recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for each nutrient. Sometimes there isn’t enough data to set an RDA. In that case, the board sets an adequate intake (AI). The AI is the nutrient level assumed to be adequate for most people.
The good news is that you should be able to quickly meet the recommendations with a healthy balanced diet. It’s estimated that people in the United States get between 35 and 70 mcg per day of biotin. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require food manufacturers to list Biotin on their labels unless they add it to their products. You can read about some of the best sources of biotin below.
Can I Get Biotin from Food?
It is possible to get healthy hair skin, and nails with biotin from food sources such as eggs and meat. Other food sources include beef liver, pork, ground meat, salmon, sweet potato, almonds, and more. But as we mentioned above, it is a water-soluble vitamin, and therefore if you boil a food, such as sweet potatoes, you will lose the potency of the vitamin.
You can change the way you cook the food, such as having baked sweet potatoes versus boiled, or by adding these biotin-rich foods into soups where the leaking of nutrients won’t matter. You can get additional health benefits from eating a balanced healthy diet and get your biotin as well.
As mentioned above eggs are a great source but avoid raw egg whites. They contain avidin which is a type of sugar protein that tightly binds to Biotin and prevents your body from absorbing it. Cooking destroys avidin which allows you to absorb Biotin so enjoy those cooked eggs.
Biotin can also be made by the bacteria in your intestines. Unfortunately, the role of gut bacteria in controlling the body’s levels of biotin is not currently known. This is mainly due to the complexity of the microbiome as an ecosystem. If you’re interested in improving your gut health we’d recommend reading up on probiotics, prebiotics, and how to support the mucosal lining of the gut. Lastly, you can choose to get your biotin by taking biotin supplements.
Do I Have a Biotin Deficiency?
According to a Health Professional Fact Sheet, signs of biotin deficiency “typically appear gradually and can include thinning hair with progression to loss of all hair on the body, scaly, red rash around body openings (eyes, nose, mouth, and perineum)” and other possibilities, including brittle nails, lethargy, and even seizures (2).
If you experience these symptoms, we suggest talking to a doctor about a possible biotin deficiency and about taking some biotin supplements to ensure your levels get back to normal.
People groups most at risk for Biotin deficiency include those with
- Biotindase deficiency
- Chronic Alcohol Use
- Inflammatory bowel disease
The Best Biotin Supplements
What we like about taking biotin vitamins is that it takes the guesswork out of the equation. You don’t have to worry about if you are consuming enough of one food source to ensure that you are meeting your body’s needs.
They are also great to take if you find yourself lacking in biotin or have a deficiency that presents itself, such as what we described above. We’ll start out with what we think is the best pure biotin supplement. We will also cover the best biotin supplement that contains multiple ingredients to support hair, skin and nails.
Pure Encapsulations Biotin works to promote nerve cell health and healthy lipid metabolism and helps reinforce the keratin (hair) structure, including its strength and thickness. High doses are also said to promote healthy glucose metabolism. We like how easy it is to take these biotin capsules twice a day with meals. They contain 8 mg of biotin per serving.
Knowing the role biotin plays in the body, this supplement with 8 mg of biotin per serving works to help support blood sugar balance and build healthy fats in our skin to help keep it moist and supple. It works to promote nail strength and enzyme production in metabolism. We like that these biotin vitamins are vegetarian and gluten-free and do not contain any high fructose corn syrup.
The benefit of this biotin supplement is that it uses a two-stage time-release technology to give you optimal support. The initial release is rapid, while the second half gradually flows through your body over the next six hours. We love this biotin for its ability to support healthy hair and nails, but also because it is 100% vegan and non-GMO. It contains 5,000 mcg of biotin per serving.
This Douglas Labs supplement goes beyond providing you with elevated doses of biotin, but also includes methylfolate, vitamin C, zinc, and Cynatine HNS, a patented solubilized keratin. It was designed with the distinct purpose of not only improving the strength of your hair, nails, and skin but to promoting its brightness for an overall glow. It contains 6,000 mcg of biotin per serving.
A superb supplemental option when you want to target multiple areas. This Douglas Labs multivitamins and minerals formula includes a unique combination of natural plant compounds, consisting of polyphenols, otherwise known as antioxidants, to eliminate free radicals and support cell repair.
Beyond polyphenols, it also contains biotin to provide cellular support and give your hair and skin an enriched appearance. We love that it is nutrient-dense to provide you with optimal health and that it is non-GMO and gluten-free. It provides 400mcg of biotin per serving.
These pure encapsulations were made to specifically support all your hair, skin, and nail needs. They combine nutrients such as copper, manganese, and silica, all-important to ensure optimal levels of collagen and keratin, crucial for promoting healthy skin elasticity.
Beyond these nutrients, these capsules also contain PureWay-C®, “a rapidly absorbed enhanced retention vitamin C, which helps support skin resiliency and works to fight against oxidative stress thanks to the sustained release of CoQ10 complex. We think they are worth checking out. It contains 6,000 mcg of biotin per serving.
Common Questions About Biotin
Which Brand is Best for Biotin?
We don’t like to put all our eggs in one basket. We find that different supplements work well for different people and their unique body structures. For some, they might like a combination supplement, such as Beauty Essentials, for others, Pure Encapsulations Biotin fits the bill because it is pure in form.
Who Shouldn’t Take Biotin?
The main reason to avoid taking biotin is if you have an allergy to biotin. Other reasons to not take it, or at the very least, lessen the dose, are because you smoke, you have kidney disease, or you have had stomach surgery. We advise talking to a healthcare professional to help you decide (3).
Is It Better to Take Biotin or Collagen?
First, we want to address the differences between the two. As you recall, biotin is vitamin B7. Collagen is a protein that aids in plumping your skin, gives your joints essential cushion, and works to give you strong hair, bones, and nails (4).
As such, it’s not a matter of which is better to take, but that your body needs both to be in optimal health. If you want to learn more about collagen, we suggest you read our informative post on the Top 7 Beautiful Benefits of Collagen Supplements.
That said, it is also important to know that it takes more than biotin and collagen to support healthy nails, skin, and hair. Vitamins A, B, and C, para-aminobenzoic acid, Hyaluronic Acid, zinc, and fish oil may also help. To know more, we invite you to read The Ultimate Guide to the Best Hair, Skin, and Nails Vitamins.
How Much Biotin Should I Take Daily for Hair Growth?
If you choose to take a biotin supplement for hair growth, we suggest focusing on those which are marketed for hair growth, such as Douglas Labs Ultra HNS (Hair, Nails Skin). On the package, it clearly states 3 capsules, but we also suggest you discuss your desire first with your doctor.
Biotin Dosing Guidelines
Perhaps you are taking biotin because you have a deficiency, or you want to move beyond taking it for hair growth and want some dosing guidance. We understand that it can seem confusing. Our recommendation is as follows based on what the mayo clinic (5) suggests.
- Adults and teenagers – 30 to 100 micrograms (mcg) per day.
- Children 7 to 10 years of age – 30 mcg per day.
- Children 4 to 6 years of age – 25 mcg per day.
- Children birth to 3 years of age- 10 to 20 mcg per day
If, however, you have a biotin deficiency, we highly suggest you discuss your dosage needs with your healthcare provider.
Does Biotin Cause Weight Gain?
Since our body needs biotin as part of a balanced diet and to help convert food into energy, there is no evidence to support that biotin would result in weight gain (6). Regulating weight is often a matter of living a balanced lifestyle, and so biotin can certainly be included as part of a balanced lifestyle.
Does Biotin Speed Up Your Metabolism?
There is the belief that biotin works to elevate your resting rate of metabolism. But it’s best to look at it in the following way if you aren’t getting enough vitamin B7, you won’t have the ability to process fats, carbohydrates, and proteins (7).
By taking biotin along with a variety of B vitamins, including B12 and B6, you will have an increased metabolism compared to those who lack these important vitamins. This means that you burn calories more efficiently and therefore could find weight loss as a bonus for taking biotin.
Can Too Much Biotin Hurt You?
Research has shown (8), according to the National Institutes of Health, that biotin has never been shown to cause harm to the body. That said, it’s important to take the appropriate amounts according to recommendations, where too much may cause false results in lab tests.
How Long After Taking Biotin Do You See Results?
According to one study (9), self-perceived improvements of those taking an oral supplement were visible in patients after 90 days. They also believed that with ongoing treatment continued improvements may occur. We suggest taking it daily for a minimum of six months to know if it’s working for you.
When is the Best Time to Take Biotin?
We recommend taking biotin earlier in the day and avoiding taking it at night. This is because vitamin B7 can give a boost of energy that you wouldn’t want before bed. The time of day also affects how we absorb the nutrients we ingest; at night our digestive rate slows down and won’t give you the best results.
Do Biotin Supplements Really Work?
Taking biotin vitamins can greatly benefit the way your body processes fats, carbohydrates, and protein so, it’s safe to say this vitamin is essential for optimal health, including as a supplement. This is particularly true for those who suffer from a biotin deficiency.
There may not be a magic pill that will give us the promise of eternal youth, but by ensuring our vitamin B7 levels are met we can safeguard that our hair, nails, and skin continue to look their best. This, in turn, may hopefully give the illusion that our youth is eternal.
NOTHING IN THIS WEBSITE IS INTENDED AS OR SHOULD BE CONSTRUED AS MEDICAL ADVICE. ANY HEALTHCARE AND/OR NUTRITIONAL MATERIAL CONTAINED IN THIS WEBSITE IS FOR CONSUMER INFORMATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. SUCH MATERIAL IS NOT INTENDED AS MEDICAL ADVICE FOR CONDITIONS OR TREATMENT, NOR IS IT INTENDED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR A MEDICAL EXAMINATION BY A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL. CONSUMERS SHOULD CONSULT THEIR OWN HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS FOR INDIVIDUAL MEDICAL RECOMMENDATIONS.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.
- Biotin – Vitamin B7 | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
- Biotin – Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
- Biotin (Hair, Skin & Nails) – Side Effects, Interactions, Uses, Dosage, Warnings | Everyday Health
- Biotin vs. Collagen: What’s the Difference? | The Healthy
- Biotin (Oral Route) Proper Use – Mayo Clinic
- Biotin: Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage, and Interactions (verywellhealth.com)
- Biotin – Consumer (nih.gov)
- A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Evaluating the Efficacy of an Oral Supplement in Women with Self-perceived Thinning Hair – PMC (nih.gov)
About the author
Chris Bowman is the COO of SimplyNutrients.com which is part of Dr. Jamy Antoine's Select Health Practice in Edina, Minnesota. Chris is passionate about helping people live healthier lives through using the best practices of nature, nutrition and medicine.