What You Need to Know About Taking Biotin

Many myths have been built around taking biotin, mainly because it's been promoted as a component with important cosmetic effects. However, there's insufficient evidence that it generates all the benefits it's said to offer.
What You Need to Know About Taking Biotin

Last update: 10 September, 2021

Biotin is a type of B vitamin that helps transform the carbohydrates, fats, and protein we consume into energy. It was originally called vitamin H, but is now called B7 and has gained much popularity for its cosmetic action on nails and hair.

B7 is present in a large number of foods, unlike other vitamins. It’s also present in food supplements. Human beings require only small doses of the substance to function properly. More precisely, children only require 200 micrograms of this vitamin per day, and adults only 300.

Today, we’ll tell you more about this vitamin and what you need to know about taking biotin.

The efficacy of taking biotin

Biotin is frequently consumed as a dietary supplement, as it’s said to have several beneficial properties for the body. The available evidence indicates that taking biotin is probably effective only in compensating for organic biotin deficiency.

It’s very rare for there to be low levels of biotin in the body, as this vitamin is present in many foods. Also, the amount required by humans is low. However, there are some states or health conditions that lead to a decrease in this vitamin. This situation occurs mainly in:

  • Pregnant women: When their diet isn’t ideal for the stage
  • People who’ve been fed through tubes for a long time
  • Those who suffer from malnourishment
  • Severe tobacco or alcohol addicts
Sources of vitamin B7.
The daily requirement of biotin is very small for human beings.

Unproven efficacy of artificial biotin

Although this vitamin is promoted in the market as the answer to a large number of deficiencies and problems, the truth is that science hasn’t found sufficient evidence for many of the supposed benefits.

There’s preliminary, inconclusive research claiming that taking biotin may be useful in the following cases:

  • Stopping or moderating hair loss, according to a study published in the journal Skin Appendage Disorders
  • Thickening and improving fingernails and toenails, when they’re scaly
  • Helping to regulate glucose levels and contribute to the reduction of peripheral nerve pain in diabetics, according to several experts
  • Reducing muscle cramps in those undergoing dialysis
  • Improving vision and increase mobility in people with multiple sclerosis

Although all these properties are attributed to it, there’s still not enough scientific evidence that it really has them. What’s been practically ruled out is that this vitamin is useful in reducing the rash caused by seborrheic dermatitis in babies.

Is it safe to use?

The prestigious American magazine Consumer Reports pointed out in one of its publications that biotin supplementation provides up to 15 times the amount required by a normal body. This generates an excess of plasma biotin, but the effect this may have on health is still unknown.

Some experts consider that our body’s perfectly capable of eliminating the excess of vitamin B7, without this causing any problem for the human body. On the other hand, some have suggested that this vitamin could affect fertility, but there’s no study to support this assertion.

What’s more, some suspect that biotin may be harmful to pregnant women and the fetus. However, there’s no evidence for this either. In any case, research on this substance is ongoing and for the time being, there are many unresolved questions.

A biotin vitamin.
Although biotin is touted as effective in many situations, there’s not enough evidence for it.

Find out more: Vitamin A Deficiency: Possible Risks

Sources and the consumption of biotin

Overall, most people get vitamin B7 from their regular diet. It’s present in common foods such as meat, fish, eggs, offal, nuts, seeds, and some vegetables such as sweet potato, broccoli, and spinach.

The main manifestations of deficiency of this vitamin are a rash around the eyes, nose, and mouth, and thinning hair. An increased state of systemic inflammation may also occur, according to an article published in the American Journal of Physiology.

Also, there may be high acid concentrations in the blood and urine, skin infections, frequent sties, brittle nails, and nervous system problems.

Maintain adequate biotin levels

Most people don’t need to take biotin supplements. Its use has become popular because it’s been promoted as a cosmetic product. It’s best to obtain this vitamin from food directly and not from supplements.

This way, you’ll be able to guarantee the correct functioning of the physiological reactions of the human body. You’ll also help to keep inflammation under control, which is the cause of the development of certain chronic pathologies.

Finally, remember to eat a varied diet to reduce the risk of nutrient deficiencies.

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  • Patel DP., Swink SM., Castelo Soccio L., A review of the use of biotin for hair loss. Skin Appendage Disord, 2017. 3 (3): 166-169.
  • Turgut M., Cinar V., Pala R., Tuzcu M., et al., Biotin and chromium histidianate improve glucose metabolism and proteins expression levels of IRS-1, PPAR y, and NF-kB in exercise-trained rats. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2018.
  • Agrawal S., Agrawal A., Said HM., Biotin deficiency enhances the inflammatory response of human dendritic cells. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol, 2016.