Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that’s a part of the vitamin B family. It’s also known as vitamin H. Your body needs biotin to help convert certain nutrients into energy. It also plays an important role in the health of your hair, skin, and nails.
If you aren’t getting enough biotin, you may experience hair loss or a scaly red rash. However, a deficiency is rare. In most cases, the biotin you get from your diet is enough for you to reap the health benefits it offers.
Still, many people are increasing their intake in hopes of additional benefits. Keep reading to find out how to add biotin to your diet, what to look for in a biotin supplement, possible side effects, and more.
Biotin-rich foods to eat
You’re probably already getting the daily recommended amount of biotin from the food you eat. But if you’d like to increase your intake, you can add more biotin-rich foods into your diet.
organ meats, such as liver or kidney
nuts, such as almonds, peanuts, and walnuts
soybeans and other legumes
Heat can reduce biotin’s efficacy, so opt for raw or minimally-processed dishes. The amount of biotin can vary from food to food, too, so be sure to read the nutritional information whenever possible. This can help you select items with the most biotin for your buck.
Biotin deficiency can occur in people who drink alcohol excessively or consume a great deal of raw egg white (which contains avidin, a protein that blocks the absorption of biotin).1 Two or more uncooked egg whites daily for several months has been known to result in biotin deficiency.
Genetic disorders of biotin deficiency (such as biotinidase deficiency), renal dialysis, and smoking may also increase your need for biotin. Since biotin is produced in the intestines, people with inflammatory bowel disease or other conditions that can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the intestines may not be able to adequately produce biotin.
If you notice any symptoms of deficiency, consult your health care provider. Symptoms include:
- Thinning of the hair
- Brittle nails
- Dry skin
- A red scaly rash (especially around the eyes, nose, and mouth)
- Numbness and tingling of the arms and legs
If you don’t think you’re getting enough biotin from your diet, or if you’re just looking to up your dosage, supplements may be an option.
Biotin supplements are available over the counter in capsule or tablet form. You can find a great selection of biotin for hair loss supplements here
Other benefits of biotin
Although more research is needed to assess its effects on hair growth, biotin does have several proven benefits.
For example, biotin is one of several B vitamins that supports a healthy metabolism. Biotin converts glucose from carbohydrates into energy for the body and aids amino acids in carrying out normal bodily functions.
Biotin is also thought to:
- reduce inflammation
- improve cognitive function
- help lower blood sugar in people with diabetes
- increase “good” HDL cholesterol and decrease “bad” LDL cholesterol