Healthy adults need approximately 30 micrograms of the B vitamin biotin each day. Although intestinal bacteria typically produce enough to meet the needs of most people, biotin also occurs naturally in a variety of foods. Some of these foods also contain the sulfur compound methyl sulfonyl methane, or MSM. There isn't a required daily allowance specified for MSM, though some studies indicate that a high intake may help ease the symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Biotin consumption may aid diabetics with blood sugar regulation. More research is needed on both nutrients before either can be recommended as a safe and effective treatment for any condition.
Cow's milk is the best natural source of MSM, reported an Alternative Medicine Review article published in 2003. Milk contains 3.3 ppm of MSM, or just over 3 milligrams in every liter of fluid. Milk's biotin content is relatively small: skim, low-fat and whole milk supply between 0.2 and 0.3 microgram in a 1-cup serving. The heat used during milk pasteurization can cause up to 50 percent of the MSM content to be lost in steam. Since unpasteurized milk may increase your risk of foodborne illness, don't attempt to use it to increase your MSM intake until you've spoken to your doctor.
Eat Raw Tomatoes
Like milk, a 43-gram serving of fresh tomatoes -- 1 1/2 ounces, or just under 1/4 cup -- contains approximately 0.3 microgram of biotin, or 1 percent of the recommended daily intake of the vitamin for adults. Tomatoes can also supply up to 0.86 ppm, or 0.86 milligram per liter, of MSM. To get the most MSM out of a tomato, you'll need to eat it raw. Canned and cooked tomatoes will contain significantly less MSM per serving.
Enjoy Fresh Corn
Corn may contain as much as 0.11 ppm, or 0.11 milligram per liter, of MSM. That's less than foods like coffee, which has an MSM concentration of 1.6 ppm, and Swiss chard, with about 0.2 ppm, but more than alfalfa, which contains only 0.07 ppm. It does contain biotin, but not much: 0.06 microgram in a 1/2-cup serving of canned whole corn. As with all other naturally occurring food sources of MSM, you'll only obtain the compound if you consume the food as fresh and unprocessed as possible. Canned corn may have biotin, but it won't have much MSM left.
Include Beer and Tea
Both a 10-ounce glass of beer and a 7-ounce serving of tea contain around 0.3 microgram of biotin. Tea is a better source of MSM, with 0.3 ppm -- also 0.3 milligram per liter -- while beer has just under 0.2 ppm, or 0.2 milligram in every liter. Since MSM turns to gas quickly with the application of heat, the brewing process needed to prepare either beverage will cause some of the MSM to be lost before you can consume it.
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Biotin
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Methyl Sulfonyl Methane
- Alternative Medicine Review: Methylsulfonylmethane
- Food Matters: 5 Important Ways MSM Could Benefit Your Health
- Journal of Food Composition and Analysis: Determination of the Biotin Content of Select Foods Using Accurate and Sensitive HPLC/Avidin Binding, Table 1