Biotin is known as the beauty or hair vitamin. We explain why this is the case, which foods contain it, and whether biotin capsules can be valuable to your diet.
What is Biotin, and What Functions Does it Perform?
Biotin, also known as Vitamin B7 or Vitamin H, belongs to the group of B vitamins and thus joins Pantothenic acid and Niacin, for example. Vitamin B7 is one of the water-soluble vitamins, just like Vitamin B12.
Biotin plays a vital role in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. Here the vitamin ensures sufficient energy production from the ingested food.
Biotin is also essential for cardiovascular, nervous, and digestive functions. It contributes to normal psychological function.
Biotin is rightly referred to as "the hair vitamin" or Vitamin H: it contributes to maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails. So the nickname of the vitamin derives from one of its functions.
The Institute of Medicine (Washington, DC) recommends the intake of about 30 - 60 micrograms of biotin per day to avoid a Biotin deficiency. This value is an approximate estimate since there is no scientifically proven information about the daily human requirement. Adequate biotin supply is present at 1500 pmol/l in plasma and 70 nmol/l in urine.
Biotin in Food: Boost Your Health with Nutrition
The "Hair Vitamin" can be found in many different foods, so we can usually cover our daily needs well with a varied diet.
Foods containing Biotin include both plant and animal foods, with the biotin occurring here either in free form or in a protein-bound form.
However, you should protect food from solid sunlight as biotin is UV sensitive. When prepared with heat, however, the vitamin is less sharp because it is relatively heat-stable.
The following foods contain the following amounts of Biotin per 100 g:
- Egg yolk 10 mcg
- Cheese, e.g., Bree 6.2 mcg
- Pork 5.3 mcg
- Cow's milk 3.4 mcg
- Soybeans 60 mcg
- Peanuts 34 mcg
- Oats 27 mcg
- Wheat germ 17 mcg
- Mushrooms 16 mcg
- Carrots 5 mcg
- Tomatoes 4.2 mcg
As you can see, egg yolk is supposedly a good source of biotin. Interestingly, raw eggs contain avidin (a glycoprotein), which binds to Biotin. It means that eating raw eggs decreases biotin absorption. It's crucial for athletes, who often include more raw eggs in their diet.
Since Biotin is of vital importance to our body and it can only be stored in small amounts in the liver, we must ingest the vitamin through our daily diet. As you have seen, numerous foods contain Biotin.
Our body needs help from our intestinal bacteria to utilize the absorbed Biotin. Our biotin balance is also closely related to our gut health. You can find everything you need to know about a healthy gut in our article on colon cleansing.
Although a Biotin deficiency is rare, it can occur for various reasons. It can be caused by a disturbed intestinal flora, e.g., after taking antibiotics, digestive tract diseases, alcohol abuse, or high consumption of raw eggs. In particular, pregnant or breastfeeding women have a higher risk of suffering from a deficiency. In most cases, an undersupply of biotin is accompanied by a lack of the other B vitamins.
Biotin Deficiency Symptoms
A Biotin deficiency can manifest itself, for example, as hair loss, thinning hair, skin rash, or anemia. A persistent Biotin deficiency can lead to muscle pain, brittle nails, changes in metabolism, or increased susceptibility to infections.
Biotin as a Dietary Supplement
Although the intestines even produce a small amount of Biotin itself, additional support of the biotin balance through dietary supplements can be helpful.
There are, for example, biotin-containing capsules, tablets, or shampoos that are enriched with Biotin and can thus improve hair health.
Because Biotin capsules, tablets, and multivitamins come in many forms and over the counter, it's essential to look at the ingredients.
When buying these products, make sure that all substances are of natural origin, do not contain unnecessary fillers, and do not overdose on the biotin capsules or tablets.
The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) recommends a maximum of 18 µg of biotin in food supplements. For foods fortified with Biotin, a maximum limit of 60 µg per serving is recommended.
Conclusion: Biotin for Your Health
- We need Biotin for healthy cardiovascular, digestive, and nerve function and a robust energy balance.
- A dietary intake of 30-60 micrograms of biotin per day is recommended to avoid deficiency and maintain the body's health.
- We can cover our need for Biotin with numerous foods: liver, wheat germ, or soybean sprouts, which contain a lot of the vitamin.
- A Biotin deficiency often shows up first in thinning hair or brittle nails.
- Support through dietary supplements can be helpful, for example, during breastfeeding.
Disclaimer: This article is a collaborative effort of the CLAV editorial team, created on the current literature base. All our publications are supplemented with passion and expertise for naturopathy and a healthy lifestyle. Our medical experts approve all texts before publication. Please Note: Dietary supplements are no substitute for a balanced, healthy diet or medical advice.