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What are Biotin Supplements?

By G. Wiesen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Biotin supplements are dietary or nutritional supplements taken to help increase biotin levels in a person’s body. Biotin, also called vitamin H, is part of the B complex group essential to helping the human body break down carbohydrates into glucose, which is used by the body to produce energy. Deficiencies of biotin in someone can have negative side effects, and biotin supplements can be used to counteract such deficiencies or to help strengthen certain parts of the human body.

People will often use biotin supplements to help combat issues that biotin deficiencies can cause in them. This can include brittle or breaking hair and finger nails, as well as improving liver health in a person. Biotin is water soluble and is therefore not stored in the human body, but instead is eliminated along with waste. This means that regular taking of vitamins that include biotin or standalone biotin supplements can be necessary in rare cases of extreme deficiency.

Many beauty and health products can include biotin supplements because of the way they can strengthen the hair and nails. People suffering from brittle, breaking hair or nails that crack too easily may want to try biotin supplements or treatments that include biotin to help them strengthen those areas. As with any dietary supplement, care should be taken to read any precautions or warnings, and a medical professional should be consulted before supplements are administered to young children.

Biotin supplements are also commonly taken by pregnant women, since biotin is important for normal embryonic development and growth. While biotin deficiencies are fairly rare, since it is found in quite a few different foods and can even be created by microorganisms within the human body, the effects of such a deficiency can be severe. Symptoms of biotin deficiency include hair loss, dry and scaly skin, insomnia, and depression. People who have been fed intravenously for an extended period of time or have been on antibiotics extensively are typically the most prone to a deficiency in biotin. Someone who has eaten a great deal of raw egg whites can also create a deficiency in himself or herself as the raw egg whites contain avidin, a protein that can bind with biotin to reduce how well the body can utilize it.

Some foods such as egg yolks, sardines, bananas, cauliflower, and mushrooms naturally contain biotin. Eating such foods in typical amounts will usually provide an otherwise healthy person with sufficient amounts for basic physical health. Some food processing techniques can destroy biotin in food, however, so less processed forms of such foods are preferable for full benefit.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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