What is Biotin?
Biotin is a B vitamin that's needed for the formation of fatty acids and glucose, which are essential for the production of energy. It also helps with the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
Biotin is found naturally in food. Good dietary sources of biotin include brewer's yeast, nutritional yeast, liver, cauliflower, salmon, bananas, carrots, egg yolks, sardines, legumes and mushrooms.
Biotin deficiency isn't common, unless you frequently eat a lot of raw egg white, which contains a protein that blocks the absorption of biotin. Genetic disorder of biotin deficiency, infant seborrheic dermatitis, surgical removal of the stomach, and excessive alcohol consumption may increase a person's requirement for biotin.
Biotin deficiency may lead to skin rash, hair loss, high cholesterol and heart problems.
Why Do People Use Biotin?
There is little solid evidence that biotin supplements are effective for acne, eczema, brittle nails, diaper rash, cradle cap or hair loss.
Side Effects and Safety Concerns
The safety of biotin supplements in pregnant or nursing women, children or people with liver or kidney disease isn't known.
People with a history of seizures shouldn't use biotin unless under the supervision of a qualified health practitioner.
Pregnant women sometimes have low levels of biotin, so some take biotin supplements. The benefits and risks aren't clear.
What are the risks of taking biotin?
- Side effects. Biotin seems to be safe and well-tolerated, even at fairly high levels. The maximum safe dose of biotin is unknown.
- Risks. If you have any medical conditions -- or are pregnant or breastfeeding -- check with a doctor before using biotin supplements. Don't give biotin to a child unless a pediatrician recommends it.
- Interactions. If you take any medicines regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using biotin supplements. Biotin might weaken the effect of some cholesterol medicines. Conversely, many drugs can lower biotin levels, including some antibiotics and medicines for acne. Some epilepsy medicines may decrease biotin absorption from food. A supplement, lipoic acid, may also increase the need for biotin. Eating raw egg whites on a regular basis can also lower biotin levels in the body.