What Is Vitamin Biotin Good For?

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Fried egg in a pan (Image: Amarita/iStock/Getty Images)

Biotin, also known at vitamin H, is one of the B complex vitamins you need to maintain optimal health. According to integrative physician Dr. Andrew Weil, biotin deficiency occurs relatively infrequently. You don't need a large amount of biotin, and it's readily found in several foods. However, your doctor may recommend use of biotin supplements if you take certain medications or have underlying medical conditions that cause you to be biotin deficient.

More About Biotin

B vitamins such as biotin, or vitamin B7 help your body turn carbohydrates into usable fuel that your body uses for energy, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC. B vitamins are necessary for a healthy nervous system and also help metabolize fats, proteins and amino acids. Biotin is crucial for healthy fetal development, making adequate intake of this vitamin important during pregnancy. You get most of this B vitamin in your daily diet. The need for additional vitamin supplements to address a health concern should be determined by your doctor, says MayoClinic.Com.

Foods With Biotin

Biotin is found in many food sources. Dr. Weil says foods rich in biotin include barley, brewer's yeast, fortified cereals, corn, organ meats such as liver, egg yolks, milk, soy, wheat bran and royal jelly. Other sources of biotin include avocados, broccoli, cauliflower, cheese, fish, beans, chicken, mushrooms, nuts, potatoes, pork and spinach, he says.

Biotin Deficiency

According to UMMC, biotin deficiency is uncommon. People who've received intravenous feedings for a long time may experience biotin deficiency, as well as those who've taken anti-seizure medications and antibiotics for a long time. MayoClinic indicates that some people are born with a genetic disorder that causes biotin absorption problems. Symptoms of biotin deficiency include hair loss, cracking in the corners of the mouth, dry eyes and skin, tiredness, insomnia, depression and a flagging appetite. The tongue may also darken in color, swell and become tender.

Your Biotin Needs

Because biotin deficiency is so rare, MayoClinic.Com says no recommended daily allowance for this vitamin exists. However, recommended daily intake for adolescents and adults ranges between 30 and 100 mcg. Infants and children from birth until age 3 should receive between 10 and 20 mcg. Children between 3 and 6 should receive 25 mcg, and those between 6 and 10 should receive 30 mcg. Some people take biotin supplements to treat acne, eczema and hair loss; however, MayoClinic.Com says no definitive evidence exists that suggests biotin helps with these problems.

Cautions and Concerns

Biotin is considered safe and nontoxic, even in high doses, says UMMC. No side effects are associated with biotin, but biotin supplements are treated as dietary supplements by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration–they are not considered a drug. Biotin supplements cannot make claims of being able to treat or cure any medical condition, nor are these products assured to be safe and effective. Before you use supplemental biotin to address a specific health concern, please speak with your primary care physician.

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