You may have heard many a good word about the benefits of biotin for your hair, skin, and nails, but before you splurge on biotin supplements, how about getting it from biotin-rich foods in your daily diet?
What does biotin do?
- Helps in the metabolism of glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids.
- Keeps hair, skin, and nails healthy (limited evidence).
- Helps produce the myelin sheath around nerve cell axons, which helps in the transmission of nerve signals[
- Helps in gene regulation.
- Relieves cradle cap in infants (a scaly scalp condition).
- May improve blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes.
- May help fight alopecia areata (autoimmune hair loss).1 2.3
Although commonly referred to as vitamin H, biotin or vitamin B7 belongs to the family of B-complex vitamins. Like all other B vitamins, biotin is water soluble, which means that the body does not store it. Most of the biotin required by your body is produced in the intestine by your gut bacteria, and the rest of the body’s requirement is met through diet.4
Quite a few foods are known to contain biotin. But due to the technical difficulty in accurately measuring biotin levels in food, many more foods probably remain undocumented. So it is possible that you already get sufficient biotin from foods that are not yet categorized as biotin-rich foods. In such cases, the exact amount cannot be known. Moreover, the cooking process may determine how much you absorb. Here is a list of known foods you could have to give your biotin levels a boost.
1. Beef Liver
Every 1.5 oz cooked beef liver contains 15.3 mcg biotin, which meets 51% of your DV (daily value). Grilled and roasted beef liver retains the maximum amount of biotin, so they’re the best way to cook the beef.5
2. Whole Cooked Egg
While having raw egg whites for a long time is not advised, cooked eggs can give you a good biotin boost. A whole cooked large egg yields 13–25 mcg biotin, which meets 42–82% DV.6 Boiling or poaching are the best cooking methods to retain the biotin content of eggs.
A quarter-cup serving of almonds contains 14 mcg biotin, which meets 49% of your DV. Always go for roasted almonds, as they pack in the most biotin.
4. Sweet Potato
A 1-cup serving of sweet potato carries 8.6 mcg, which meets 29% of your DV. Eat boiled sweet potato to derive its goodness.
Containing 7.8 mcg biotin per cup, onions are one of the richest sources of vitamin B7. A 1 cup serving of cooked onions can meet up to 27% DV of biotin.
Cooked oats and rice bran top the list of grains that are rich in vitamin b7, says a fact sheet published by the North Carolina State University. A quarter-cup of cooked oats contains 7.8 mcg biotin, which meets 26% DV.7 8
A nutritional powerhouse, tomatoes are a rich source of biotin. A 1-cup serving of boiled tomatoes is packed with 6.2 mcg biotin, which meets 24% DV.
A quarter-cup serving of peanuts contains 6.4 mcg biotin. By eating a handful of peanuts a day, which is the recommended intake, you can meet 21% of your DV. Peanuts are best eaten roasted or raw.
One cup of carrots can meet 20% of your DV, as it contains 6.1 mcg biotin. Steam or boil the carrots to derive their goodness.
Another addition to the “healthy nuts” category, walnuts can meet 19% of your daily biotin requirement. A quarter-cup sized cup of roasted or raw walnuts contains 5.7 mcg biotin.
11. Cow’s Milk
One cup or about 4 ounces of fresh cow’s milk carries 2.3 mcg biotin. If you drink 2 cups of cow’s milk every day, you’d have met 16% of your daily requirement.
Every 3 oz cooked pork contains 2–4 mcg, which reaches 15% of your DV. Like beef, grilled or roasted pork contains the maximum biotin amount.
Dairy products – especially cheese – contain good quantities of biotin. In fact, 1 cup of plain yogurt contains 3.02 mcg, which is enough to meet 13% of your DV.
With about 7 mcg biotin, banana is a good source of biotin. By eating one medium banana, you can meet 10% DV of biotin.
A whole avocado contains 2–6 mcg biotin. By eating the standard serving of avocado, which is half the fruit, you can meet 5% of the DV.
17. Brewer’s Yeast
Essential fatty acids are required for the maintenance of optimal health and to develop brain structure, but they cannot be synthesized by our bodies.13 Therefore, we get them through food sources in which these fatty acids have already been synthesized, thanks to the work of vitamins like biotin.
Apart from these food sources, biotin is also available as single-nutrient supplements and is often included in vitamin B-complex and multivitamin-mineral supplements. While you can take biotin supplements, it’s better to get the vitamin from food, which contains many other essential nutrients. Taking supplements above the recommended dose may interfere with the results of certain medical tests (like the thyroid hormone tests).
How Much Biotin Should You Have Daily?
All adults, including pregnant women, need just 30 mcg biotin a day while breastfeeding women need 35 mcg. However, one study claims that pregnant and breastfeeding women need more than the normal amount.14 To err on the side of caution, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, increase your intake.
Biotin deficiency is rare, probably because the amount required is low and many foods apart from the ones listed here may contain it. However, there are some risk factors and at-risk groups need to be alert about their biotin intake.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Long-term use of antibiotics and/or anti-seizure medicines
- Chronic alcoholism
- Receiving nutrition intravenously
- Eating more than 2 raw egg whites every day for a few months (a protein in raw egg white called avidin binds to the biotin and prevents its absorption into the body)
- Cigarette smoking (mild deficiency)
- Crohn’s disease
- A genetic condition called biotinidase deficiency15
So far, no side effect due to biotin overdose has been found, explaining why there is no prescribed tolerable upper intake level of the vitamin. As more research needs to be done to find out more about the vitamin’s real effect and associated risk factors, it is always advisable to eat a balanced diet and consult with your medical practitioner before turning to supplements.
|↑1, ↑4||Vitamin H (Biotin). University Of Maryland.|
|↑2||Biotin. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑3, ↑15||Biotin. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑5, ↑6, ↑7, ↑10||Biotin. Linus Pauling Institute.|
|↑8||Biotin. North Carolina State University.|
|↑9||Biotins. Asia Pacific Journal Of Clinical Nutrition.|
|↑11||Biotin. Linus Pauling Institute.|
|↑12||Suomalainen, Heikki, and A. J. A. Keränen. “The effect of biotin deficiency on the synthesis of fatty acids by yeast.” Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Specialized Section on Lipids and Related Subjects 70 (1963): 493-503.|
|↑13||Chang, Chia-Yu, Der-Shin Ke, and Jen-Yin Chen. “Essential fatty acids and human brain.” Acta Neurol Taiwan 18, no. 4 (2009): 231-41.|
|↑14||Perry, Cydne A., Allyson A. West, Antoinette Gayle, Lauren K. Lucas, Jian Yan, Xinyin Jiang, Olga Malysheva, and Marie A. Caudill. “Pregnancy and lactation alter biomarkers of biotin metabolism in women consuming a controlled diet.” The Journal of nutrition 144, no. 12 (2014): 1977-1984.|