Biotin, commonly referred to as vitamin B7, plays a key role in cell growth, the synthesis of fatty acids, and the metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids. Eggs, nuts, and whole grains are just a few of our favorite foods that are rich in vitamin B7! While most of us get the nutrition we need from the diverse selection of foods available to us, ongoing research suggests that consuming more than the U.S. Institute of Medicine’s recommended 30 mg/day (for adults) of biotin benefits overall health including skin, hair and nails.
What Makes Biotin so Important?
Biotin is a key regulator in how our DNA functions and is vital to production of proteins and other cellular structures inside our bodies. Failing to consume enough vitamin B7-rich foods or supplements may result in mild-to-severe deficiencies.
A recent study presented in the Journal of Nutrition examined the effects of nutrient deficiencies in pregnant women. The research found that a substantial proportion of pregnant women are marginally biotin deficient. This is the result of biological changes in the mother and increased urination, which passes a larger percentage of water-soluble nutrients from the body. Fetal malformations may be, in part, linked to these vitamin deficiencies. When given supplements containing folic acid and biotin, incidents of major birth defects were shown to drop by almost half. Small defects including limb shortening and cleft palate saw a drop to just above zero.
A child or adult who is biotin deficient may notice symptoms that include brittle and thin fingernails, hair loss, or rashes and scaly skin. However, a deficiency may not be the result of poor nutrition, rather a metabolic disorder that is the result of cells being unable to use biotin effectively.
Which Foods are a Great Source of Biotin?
After May 2016, the daily recommended intake for biotin went from 300 mg down to 30 mg for adults (35 mg for pregnant women). These amounts were chosen based on their “Adequate Intake” (AI), rather than the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). The United State Department of Agriculture writes about AI:
The recommended average daily intake level [is] based on observed or experimentally determined approximations or estimates of nutrient intake by a group (or groups) of apparently healthy people that are assumed to be adequate; used when an RDA cannot be determined.
There is simply not enough scientific data to establish how much biotin someone should consume to maintain their health. Like with other vitamins, if you consume more than your body needs, whatever is unused will pass during urination.
If you are looking to jump-start your diet with more vitamin B7, you should consume some of these foods rich in vitamin B7:
- Yeast – 7 grams, 1.4-14 mg
- Whole-Wheat Bread – 1 slick, 0.02-6, mg
- Cooked Egg – 1 large, 13-25 mg
- Cheddar Cheese – 1 oz., 0.4-2 mg
- Cooked Liver – 3 oz., 27-35 mg
- Cooked Pork – 3 oz., 2-4 mg
- Cooked Salmon – 3 oz., 4-5 mg
- Avocado – 1 whole, 2-6 mg
- Raspberries – 1 cup, 0.2-2 mg
- Raw Cauliflower – 1 cup, 0.2-4 mg
Biotin Benefits: Hair, Nails, Skin, and Overall Health
We touched on the fact that biotin is actually part of the B vitamin complex, which are responsible for turning carbohydrates into energy, metabolizing fats and processing proteins. As a building block for the body, continued research into vitamin B7 suggests increasing consumption might benefit our overall health.
Biotin supplements may support nail thickness and less splitting. They may help maintain the healthy-looking appearance and elasticity of hair. Biotin supplementation may also support the skin’s softness.
Preliminary research into the effects of biotin on other areas of the body is ongoing; however, B vitamins are thought to play a key role in nerve development and digestive health. Evidence also suggests that biotin may benefit people with blood sugar control issues by supporting normal insulin production and healthy glucose levels in the liver. These benefits may also extend to lipid metabolism and our ketone bodies, which supply energy to the heart, brain and muscles.
Biotin Side Effects and Supplement Usage
Biotin is considered safe at all levels and is normally mixed with other vitamin complexes. If you are taking certain medications, vitamin absorption may be decreased resulting in a deficiency. It is always best to mix supplements with foods that are rich in vitamin and mineral content, and to speak with a healthcare professional before starting a supplement regimen.
Are you on a daily biotin regime? Let us know about it in the comments below!