9 Biotin Benefits You Need To Know About For Radiant Skin + Overall Health
Think of your body as a well-oiled machine. If machines do not get the necessary fuel and maintenance, problems arise causing them to break down over time. An adequate well-rounded amount of nutrients are to your body like oil is to a machine. B vitamins specifically are essential for your body to function properly. They also help your body break down protein, fat, and carbohydrates from the foods you eat to produce energy.
However, what most people don’t realize is that, unlike vitamin D or C, there are many different types of B vitamins that each have their own role in how your body functions. Vitamin B7 - also known as biotin - is responsible for the health of your hair, skin, and nails.
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Since your body cannot synthesize biotin, it must be gained through supplementation, diet, and intestinal bacteria. Protein-bound biotin obtained through food is converted to free biotin and then absorbed in the small and large intestines. (1) It then moves into the systemic circulation to be picked up by the liver, to then cross the blood-brain barrier into the central nervous system. (2)
There are many foods that naturally contain biotin, making severe deficiencies in this nutrient rare. However, I often see suboptimal levels in my telehealth functional medicine clinic. Why is that? Well, due to the fact that mostbiotin conversion happens in the gut and many of my patients struggle with different kinds of microbiome dysfunctions, it can make it difficult to maintain an adequate amount of biotin in the body. (3) Also, I see a lot of patients who take antibiotics which wipe out beneficial gut bacteria, including biotin-producing bacteria. (4)
Other risk factors for deficiency include:
- Excessive alcohol consumption, which inhibits the absorption of biotin (5)
- Pregnancy (6)
- Smoking, which speeds up biotin absorption and use (7)
- Raw egg white consumption – the protein, avidin, inhibits biotin absorption (8)
If you suspect a deficiency, here are some symptoms to be aware of:
- Hair loss
- Brittle hair
- Digestive problems
- Dry skin
Low biotin levels can be a concern when it comes to your metabolism. Your metabolism is your body’s process of turning food into usable energy. Any food that is not used for energy is then stored as fat. Since biotin is needed for this process, deficiency can result in numerous health problems including weight gain, fatigue, and weight loss resistance.
9 Amazing Biotin Benefits
Most of the information around biotin focuses on its beauty-enhancing abilities, but there are many more ways biotin benefits your health.
Some of the benefits of biotin include:
- Immune health
- Brain health
- Blood sugar regulation
- Inflammation control
- Heart health
- Skin health
- Hair growth
- Nail health
- Increase in metabolism
Below, I will go into more depth about these benefits of biotin.
1. Biotin and immune health
Biotin is needed for the development of white blood cells which are the defense mechanisms of your immune system. (9) They work to protect your body against bacteria and viruses to ward off sickness. Since 75 percent of your immune system is located in your gut – the same place where biotin is converted – it only makes sense that biotin benefits your immune health.
2. Biotin and brain health
Biotin and other B vitamins play a role in neurotransmitter activity and work to protect against neurodegenerative disorders like dementia and improve cognitive function. It also helps synthesize hormones responsible for a positive mood.
Neurological problems (10) like seizures, depression, and biotin-responsive basal ganglia (11) – a metabolic condition that can cause seizures and a loss of coordination – have been shown to improve with the addition of biotin supplements.
3. Biotin and blood sugar
Biotin works to lower blood sugar levels through its role in increasing insulin production and stimulation of glucokinase - the enzyme in the liver that promotes glycogen synthesis. (12) Studies have shown that supplementing with biotin can decrease fasting blood sugar by 45 percent in people with type 2 diabetes. (13) It can also improve diabetic neuropathy in diabetic patients. (14)
4. Biotin and inflammation
According to research, biotin deficiency can contribute to chronic inflammation by increasing pro-inflammatory cytokines. (15) Studies show that adding biotin supplements can decrease pro-inflammatory cytokine production. (16) You can check out my previous article for more ways to soothe inflammation.
5. Biotin and heart health
Biotin is necessary for fat metabolism, which is key to a healthy heart. (17) By combining biotin and chromium together, this power duo can lower LDL levels and increase HDL – since inverse levels of each are markers for heart disease risk. (18) Studies have shown that taking 15,000 mcg a day of biotin can also lower blood triglyceride levels. (19)
6. Biotin and skin health
Like I said earlier, biotin stands apart for its ability to promote vibrant hair, skin, and nail health. Because of this, you can find many beauty products that contain biotin but there is limited research to support just how effective it is topically. You’ll be better off ingesting biotin if you want a more youthful appearance.
Biotin fights the effects of aging by helping aid in fatty acid synthesis which is needed for glowing skin. (20) Skin cells rely on fat production as protection from the constant onslaught of harsh environmental factors like sun and wind exposure. (21) My skin health guide has more tools to help keep your skin clear.
7. Biotin and hair growth
Thinning hair and hair loss are some of the more common symptoms of thyroid problems, as well as a result of biotin deficiency. Adding in biotin through diet and supplementation can help restore hair loss from deficiency and thyroid problems.
8. Biotin and nail health
Brittle nails are another symptom of biotin deficiency and thyroid problems. Even if you aren’t dealing with thyroid problems, biotin can increase the thickness and health of your nails. (22)
9. Biotin and metabolism
Biotin is needed to break down carbohydrates, fatty acids, and protein amino acids from food to use as fuel. Suppose you are intermittent fasting or are in a ketogenic state such as fat-burning or nutritional ketosis. In that case, biotin is super important since it is used in the process of producing new glucose as fuel through gluconeogenesis.
What are the side effects of taking biotin?
Biotin has few if any, side effects. In fact, it is difficult to overdo it on this vitamin since it is water-soluble and excess amounts get released through your urine. However, as with any supplementation, I recommend regular monitoring with diagnostic labs. In some people, high doses of biotin can mimic Graves’ disease in lab work and affect thyroid test results. (23) Therefore, it is important to know where you stand so that you and your doctor know any potential implications. Knowledge is power when it comes to your health!
How to include biotin in your everyday life:
There is no recommended dietary allowance since more studies need to be done to determine the bioavailability of supplementation. (24) The National Institutes of Health (25) have a recommended adequate intake for each age group based on the current scientific knowledge:
- Birth to 6 months: 5 mcg
- 7 to 12 months: 6 mcg
- 1 to 3 years: 8 mcg
- 4 to 8 years: 12 mcg
- 9 to 13 years: 20 mcg
- 14 to 18 years: 25 mcg (30 to 35 mcg if pregnant and lactating)
- 19+ years: 30 mcg
Since biotin is found in a variety of foods, supplementation isn’t always necessary. I always recommend getting our vitamins from whole food sources whenever possible. Here are a few foods high in biotin:
- Beef liver: 30 mg in 3 oz.
- Eggs: 13 mg in 1 whole egg
- Salmon: 5 mg in 3 oz.
- Avocado: 2-6 mg in 1 whole avocado
- Cheese: 0.4-2 mg in 1 oz.
- Brewer’s or Nutritional Yeast: 1.4-14 mcg in 7 grams
Biotin can usually be found in all B-complex vitamins along with vitamin B7, B6, B12, riboflavin, and niacin. Since B vitamins work synergistically to support brain function, methylation, and more, including biotin alongside the rest of the B vitamins can be the best way to capitalize on biotin benefits. Also, since excess biotin is eliminated from circulation through urine, a high dosage is not always necessary. (26)
Spirulina’s biotin content is second to none and, bonus, it’s plant-based! This algae is found in saltwater and freshwater lakes across the world and has been used for years in ancient civilizations such as Africa and Mexico. Additionally, it contains all nine essential amino acids (the ones your body can’t make and need to get through food). Everyone needs to have this secret beauty weapon in their toolbox.
I love spirulina for B vitamins so much that I went ahead and formulated a functional blend of spirulina with two of my other favorite aquatic food medicines, marine collagen, and pearl powder, to bring biotin into the 21st century. This oceanic trinity is paired with my favorite tropical adaptogen, holy basil.
In partnership with Agent Nateur, holi (youth) is a synergistic blend of biotin, other B vitamins, minerals, compounds, and herbs, and is designed to promote healthy hair, skin, nails, and overall wellness from the inside out. It is designed to mix in your water, tea, smoothies, or your favorite elixir.
So, whether you get biotin through supplements or food, this vitamin’s health benefits are far-reaching.
Try this simple recipe which combines some of the foods high in biotin all on one plate!
As one of the first functional medicine telehealth clinics in the world, we provide webcam health consultations for people around the globe.
Beef-Liver Mexican Egg Scramble
- 1 cup ground beef liver
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (optional)
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ghee
- 1 small handful fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 whole avocado, pitted and sliced
- Favorite salsa
- Heat ghee in skillet over medium heat.
- Add onions and jalapeno, and cook until soft.
- Add ground beef liver with sea salt, pepper, and garlic, and cook until done.
- Beat eggs in a separate bowl, add to skillet, and cook until done.
- Place egg scramble on plate and top with salsa, cilantro, and sliced avocado.
As one of the first functional medicine telehealth clinics in the world, we provide webcam health consultations for people around the globe.
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- Said, Hamid M. “Cell and molecular aspects of human intestinal biotin absorption.” The Journal of nutrition vol. 139,1 (2009): 158-62. doi:10.3945/jn.108.092023
- Spector, R, and D Mock. “Biotin transport through the blood-brain barrier.” Journal of neurochemistry vol. 48,2 (1987): 400-4. doi:10.1111/j.1471-4159.1987.tb04107.x
- Fernandez-Banares, F et al. “Vitamin status in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.” The American journal of gastroenterology vol. 84,7 (1989): 744-8.
- Zempleni, Janos et al. “Biotin and biotinidase deficiency.” Expert review of endocrinology & metabolism vol. 3,6 (2008): 715-724. doi:10.1586/17446622.214.171.1245
- Subramanya, Sandeep B et al. “Inhibition of intestinal biotin absorption by chronic alcohol feeding: cellular and molecular mechanisms.” American journal of physiology. Gastrointestinal and liver physiology vol. 300,3 (2011): G494-501. doi:10.1152/ajpgi.00465.2010
- Perry, Cydne A et al. “Pregnancy and lactation alter biomarkers of biotin metabolism in women consuming a controlled diet.” The Journal of nutrition vol. 144,12 (2014): 1977-84. doi:10.3945/jn.114.194472
- Sealey, Wendy M et al. “Smoking accelerates biotin catabolism in women.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 80,4 (2004): 932-5. doi:10.1093/ajcn/80.4.932
- Mock, Donald M et al. “3-Hydroxypropionic acid and methylcitric acid are not reliable indicators of marginal biotin deficiency in humans.” The Journal of nutrition vol. 134,2 (2004): 317-20. doi:10.1093/jn/134.2.317
- Janos Zempleni Donald M. Mock, Utilization of Biotin in Proliferating Human Lymphocytes, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 130, Issue 2, February 2000, Pages 335S–337S, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/130.2.335S
- Desai, Shrinivas et al. “Biotinidase deficiency: a reversible metabolic encephalopathy. Neuroimaging and MR spectroscopic findings in a series of four patients.” Pediatric radiology vol. 38,8 (2008): 848-56. doi:10.1007/s00247-008-0904-z
- Alfadhel, M., Almuntashri, M., Jadah, R.H. et al. Biotin-responsive basal ganglia disease should be renamed biotin-thiamine-responsive basal ganglia disease: a retrospective review of the clinical, radiological and molecular findings of 18 new cases. Orphanet J Rare Dis 8, 83 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1186/1750-1172-8-83
- Furukawa, Y. Nihon rinsho. Japanese journal of clinical medicine vol. 57,10 (1999): 2261-9.
- Masaru MAEBASH et al. "Therapeutic Evaluation of the Effect of Biotin on Hyperglycemia in Patients with Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus" J. Clin. Biochem. Nutr., 14, 211-218, 1993
- Koutsikos, D et al. “Biotin for diabetic peripheral neuropathy.” Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy = Biomedecine & pharmacotherapie vol. 44,10 (1990): 511-4. doi:10.1016/0753-3322(90)90171-5
- Biotin deficiency enhances the inflammatory response of human dendritic cells Sudhanshu Agrawal, Anshu Agrawal, and Hamid M. Said American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology 2016 311:3, C386-C391
- Toshinobu Kuroishi , Biotin Status Affects Nickel Allergy via Regulation of Interleukin-1β Production in Mice, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 139, Issue 5, May 2009, Pages 1031–1036, https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.108.097543
- Marshall, M W et al. “Effects of biotin on lipids and other constituents of plasma of healthy men and women.” Artery vol. 7,4 (1980): 330-51.
- Geohas, Jeff et al. “Chromium picolinate and biotin combination reduces atherogenic index of plasma in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a placebo-controlled, double-blinded, randomized clinical trial.” The American journal of the medical sciences vol. 333,3 (2007): 145-53. doi:10.1097/MAJ.0b013e318031b3c9
- Revilla-Monsalve, Cristina et al. “Biotin supplementation reduces plasma triacylglycerol and VLDL in type 2 diabetic patients and in nondiabetic subjects with hypertriglyceridemia.” Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy = Biomedecine & pharmacotherapie vol. 60,4 (2006): 182-5. doi:10.1016/j.biopha.2006.03.005
- Mock, D M. “Skin manifestations of biotin deficiency.” Seminars in dermatology vol. 10,4 (1991): 296-302.
- Esther Boelsma , Nutritional skin care: health effects of micronutrients and fatty acids, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 73, Issue 5, May 2001, Pages 853–864, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/73.5.853
- Floersheim, G L. “Behandlung brüchiger Fingernägel mit Biotin” [Treatment of brittle fingernails with biotin]. Zeitschrift fur Hautkrankheiten vol. 64,1 (1989): 41-8.
- "Biotin Treatment Mimicking Graves' Disease" N Engl J Med 2016; 375:704-706 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1602096
- Kuen-Shian Wang , The Clearance and Metabolism of Biotin Administered Intravenously to Pigs in Tracer and Physiologic Amounts Is Much More Rapid than Previously Appreciated, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 131, Issue 4, April 2001, Pages 1271–1278, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/131.4.1271
- National Institutes of Health "Biotin" Fact Sheet https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Biotin-HealthProfessional/
- Bitsch, R et al. “Studies on bioavailability of oral biotin doses for humans.” International journal for vitamin and nutrition research. Internationale Zeitschrift fur Vitamin- und Ernahrungsforschung. Journal international de vitaminologie et de nutrition vol. 59,1 (1989): 65-71.
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BY DR. WILL COLE
Dr. Will Cole, DNM, IFMCP, DC is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum and the brand new book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel.
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