What is Biotin?

Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that’s part of the B-vitamin family. These vitamins help support adrenal function, maintain a healthy nervous system, and are necessary for key metabolic processes.

Biotin is important for cell growth, the production of fatty acids, and the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins. It also plays a role in DNA replication.

While biotin is generally considered safe, there have been rare reports of negative side effects, such as skin rashes and digestive upset. If you’re considering taking a biotin supplement, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider first.

What Are the Benefits of Biotin?

Biotin is often promoted as a supplement for hair, skin, and nails. Some people take it in the hopes that it will improve the quality and appearance of their hair, skin, and nails.

Biotin is sometimes used as a treatment for brittle nails and nail infections. It’s also been studied as a potential treatment for other conditions, such as diabetes, cognitive impairment, and macular degeneration.

So far, research on the benefits of biotin is mixed. Some studies show that biotin supplements can improve the quality of nails in people with brittle nails. Other studies have found no benefit.

There is some evidence that biotin may help treat diabetes. One small study found that biotin supplements improved blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. However, larger and more well-designed studies are needed before biotin can be recommended as a treatment for diabetes.

Cognitive impairment is a common symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency. Biotin is sometimes used as a treatment for cognitive impairment, although there is no strong evidence to support its use.

Macular degeneration is a condition that causes vision loss. There is some evidence that biotin may help treat macular degeneration, but more research is needed to confirm this.

Biotin supplements are generally considered safe when taken in recommended doses. Side effects are rare but can include skin rashes and digestive upset. If you’re considering taking a biotin supplement, talk to your healthcare provider first.

Dosages of Biotin

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for biotin is 30 micrograms (mcg) for adults. Pregnant and breastfeeding women may need higher amounts.

There is no upper limit set for biotin, but doses up to 200 mg have been used safely in studies. Higher doses may cause gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, and cramping.

Biotin supplements are available in both pill and liquid form. They can be found in most health food stores and drugstores.

If you’re considering taking a biotin supplement, talk to your healthcare provider first to make sure it’s right for you.

Pharmacokinetics

Biotin is a water soluble vitamin and is not stored in the body. The half-life of biotin in human serum is about 2 hours. Biotin is eliminated in urine.

Serum biotin concentrations increase after ingestion of biotin-rich foods or supplements, but peak concentrations occur only after several hours to days. However, both free and total biotin concentrations increase more than 10-fold within 4 hours following an intramuscular injection of biotin .

After an intramuscular injection of 14C-labeled biotin in rats, radioactivity was found in many tissues including liver, kidney, pancreas, heart, spleen, lung, thymus, bone marrow, adrenal gland, small intestine, and skeletal muscle. The highest levels of radioactivity were found in liver and kidney.

In rats given biotin orally, the highest concentration of radioactivity was found in the liver, followed by kidney and pancreas .

Biotin is widely distributed in food. Good sources include eggs, meat, nuts, legumes, and leafy green vegetables. Biotin deficiency is rare and usually only occurs in people with severe malnutrition or those who are taking certain medications that interfere with biotin absorption.

Interactions

Biotin should not be taken with antibiotics such as amoxicillin, as this can lead to a biotin deficiency. Biotin may also interact with anticonvulsants, such as phenobarbital and Phenytoin. These interactions can cause a biotin deficiency.

Pregnant women should not take biotin supplements without the advice of a healthcare provider, as biotin requirements may be increased during pregnancy.

Research

Studies on biotin have been conducted for a variety of uses, including hair loss, skin health, and diabetes. However, most of these studies have been small and more research is needed before any conclusions can be drawn.

A 2014 review of studies found that biotin supplements may improve the quality of nails in people with brittle nails. Other studies have found no benefit.

There is some evidence that biotin may help treat diabetes. One small study found that biotin supplements improved blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. However, larger and more well-designed studies are needed before biotin can be recommended as a treatment for diabetes.

Cognitive impairment is a common symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency. Biotin is involved in the metabolism of vitamin B12, so biotin supplements have been studied as a possible treatment for cognitive impairment. However, there is no evidence that biotin supplements improve cognitive function in people with normal vitamin B12 levels.

Biotin has also been studied as a treatment for hair loss. One small study found that biotin supplements improved hair quality in women with thinning hair. However, larger and more well-designed studies are needed before biotin can be recommended as a treatment for hair loss.