Biotin: Potential Benefits, Known Risks, and More

Biotin is one of the B complex vitamins, specifically B8, also known as vitamin B7 or vitamin H. Meat, fish, eggs and dairy products are some of the foods that have a higher concentration of biotin.

What is Biotin?

It is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that we eliminate it daily through urine and therefore we must ensure its entry daily as well. Likewise, our intestine has the capacity to synthesize around 15mcg in adults, with the recommended daily amount being around 30mcg for adults over 19 years of age, pregnant adolescents and women.

It is present in a wide spectrum of foods, but not all types of foods provide the same amount.

Foods Rich in Biotin

  • Meats in general and pork in particular have interesting concentrations of biotin, but it is the organ meats that have the greatest amount, especially the liver and kidneys.
  • Fish, especially those that live on the seabed, salmon and herring.
  • Eggs, only the yolk, since the white has avidin, an anti-nutrient that prevents the correct intestinal absorption of biotin. By cooking the egg, avidin is denatured, making it susceptible to digestion and therefore does not hinder the absorption of the vitamin. For this reason, the regular intake of raw egg whites kept over time is not recommended as it can cause a deficiency of this nutrient.
  • Dairy. In cheddar cheese and milk we find interesting sources.
    Nuts. Walnuts, almonds, peanuts and pistachios are the most generous in biotin.
  • Vegetables, especially green leafy ones such as spinach, chard; cabbages such as broccoli and cauliflower; and tomato, carrots and sweet potato, which are recommended to be consumed as little as possible.
  • Legumes such as soybeans, peas, lentils and beans.
  • Bananas, avocado, raspberries and strawberries concentrate this vitamin more.
  • Brewer’s yeast, bread, cereals, rice bran and sunflower seeds also provide significant amounts.

What is Biotin Used For?

Biotin, like most B complex vitamins, helps convert food into energy by supporting a series of enzymes involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, through which we obtain energy.

It also participates at the cellular level in multiple reactions, such as DNA replication and the growth of hair, skin and nails, which is why supplements and shampoos with biotin are often recommended to strengthen these tissues. Likewise, more research is required before biotin supplements can be recommended for any of these conditions.

On the other hand, biotin is also involved in maintaining adequate blood sugar levels.

Excess and Deficiency of Biotin in the Body

It is very difficult not to obtain the adequate requirements of this vitamin, unless you follow a very restrictive diet that excludes the aforementioned foods or you suffer from a genetic disorder that prevents its metabolism. However, the deficiency can cause different symptoms such as: weakening of the hair and loss of body hair, skin rashes in the eyes, nose, mouth and anal area, styes, seizures, brittle nails and nervous system disorders. And in babies the deficit includes weakness in muscle tone, slowness and delayed development.

Likewise, the candidates with the greatest predisposition to suffer a deficiency of this nutrient are alcoholics, smokers, pregnant or breastfeeding women, those who suffer from the genetic disorder known as biotinidase deficiency and those who suffer from liver diseases.

Exceeding the dose of biotin is also not common, but it could occur if too high a supplement is consumed. Today, the seriousness of excess biotin has not yet been proven because, as we have already indicated, it is a water-soluble vitamin that is easily eliminated through urine.