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Biotin

Other name(s):

vitamin H (archaic), coenzyme R, d-biotin, hexahydro-2-oxo-1H-thienol[3,4-d]-imidazole-4-pentatonoic acid

General description

Biotin is a B vitamin. It’s water soluble. It’s readily absorbed when you take it by mouth. It’s found in a variety of foods. It’s also made by bacteria inside the large intestine. Biotin deficiency is rare. Like the other B vitamins, biotin plays a role in energy production.

Biotin works with carboxylase enzymes, ATP, and magnesium to capture carbon dioxide for the synthesis of fatty acids. Biotin also plays a role in the synthesis of proteins and purines. Biotin is important in carbohydrate metabolism and the metabolism of the amino-acid tryptophan.

Medically valid uses

Biotin is the treatment for some genetic illnesses caused by lack of certain enzymes. These include biotinidase deficiency, propionic acidemia, and holocarboxylase synthetase deficiency. These illnesses can cause neurological damage and abnormal skin conditions. They happen often enough that healthcare providers may start testing for them at birth.

Unsubstantiated claims

Please note that this section reports on claims that have not yet been substantiated through studies.

Biotin is said to help treat hair loss (alopecia). It may also treat skin issues. These can include acne, seborrhea, and eczema.

Recommended intake

Biotin is measured in micrograms (mcg). AI is the Adequate Intake.

Group

AI

Infants (0–6 months)

5 mcg 

Infants (7–12 months)

6 mcg 

Children (1–3 years)

8 mcg

Children (4–8 years)

12 mcg

Children (9–13 years)

20 mcg

Children (14–18 years)

25 mcg

Adults (19 years and older)

30 mcg

Pregnant women

30 mcg

Breastfeeding women

35 mcg

 

Food source

Nutrient content per 100 grams

Brewer's yeast

188.8 mcg

Soybeans

179.4 mcg

Beef liver

113.3 mcg

Butter

94.3 mcg

Split peas

77.7 mcg

Sunflower seeds

66 mcg

Green peas/lentils

40 mcg

Peanuts/walnuts

37.5 mcg

Pecans

27.75 mcg

Eggs

18.9 mcg

Biotin is stable at room temperature. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It isn’t destroyed by cooking.

People who regularly consume a large number of raw egg whites (more than 6 per day) may become biotin-deficient. Egg whites contain a protein (avidin) that blocks the absorption of biotin.

People who are immunodeficient or who have cirrhosis of the liver may also need biotin supplements. People with the genetic issue phenylketonuria (PKU) may also need higher amounts of biotin.

Some seizure medicines (anticonvulsants) may also increase how much biotin you need. These include carbamazepine and phenytoin.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may need to take supplements, but you should talk to your healthcare provider before doing so.

Certain rare, genetic disorders are linked with biotin deficiency. This issue can lead to impaired glucose tolerance. Deficiency can also cause loss of appetite, nausea, muscle pain (myalgia), and localized sensory changes (paresthesia). It can also cause seborrheic dermatitis and nervous issues, such as depression.

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

There are no known problems due to excessive use of biotin. Extra biotin comes out in urine.

There are no known food or drug interactions.

Online Medical Reviewer: Poulson, Brittany, RD, CDE
Online Medical Reviewer: Wilkins, Joanna, R.D., C.D.
Last Review Date: 9/1/2016