Biotin (Biocytin)

Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin that plays an important role in metabolizing the energy we get from food. Biotin assists four essential enzymes that break down fats carbohydrates and proteins. Very preliminary evidence suggests that biotin supplements may be helpful for people with diabetes.

Requirements

Although Biotin is a necessary nutrient, we usually get enough from bacteria living in the digestive tract. Severe Biotin deficiency has been seen in people who frequently eat large quantities of raw egg white. (Raw egg white contains a protein that blocks the absorption of Biotin. Fortunately, cooked egg white does not present this problem.)
The official U.S. and Canadian recommendations for daily intake of Biotin are as follows:
  • Infants 05 months, 5 mcg
    611 months, 6 mcg
  • Children 13 years, 8 mcg
    48 years, 12 mcg
    913 years, 20 mcg
  • Males and females 1418 years, 25 mcg
    19 years and older, 30 mcg
  • Pregnant women, 30 mcg
  • Nursing women, 35 mcg
Good dietary sources of Biotin include brewers yeast, nutritional (torula) yeast, whole grains, nuts, egg yolks, sardines legumes, liver, cauliflower, bananas, and mushrooms. There is some evidence that slight Biotin deficiency may tend to occur during normal pregnancy. For this reason, pregnant women should take a prenatal vitamin that contains the recommended intake of Biotin.

Dosages

For people with diabetes, the usual recommended dosage of Biotin is 7,000 to 15,000 mcg daily. For treating cradle cap (a scaly head rash often found in infants), the usual dosage of biotin is 6,000 mcg daily, given to the nursing mother (not the child). A lower dosage of 3,000 mcg daily is used to treat brittle fingernails and toenails.

Uses

There is little hard evidence for any of the proposed uses of biotin. Highly preliminary evidence suggests that supplemental Biotin can help reduce blood sugar levels in people with either type 1 (childhood onset) or type 2 (adult onset) diabetes. Biotin may also reduce the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. However, other supplements often recommended for diabetes have much better evidence behind them, such as chromium, lipoic acid, and GLA from evening primrose oil. Even weaker evidence suggests that biotin supplements can promote healthy nails and eliminate cradle cap. Individuals taking antiseizure medications might benefit from biotin supplementation at nutritional doses. However, it should be taken at least 2 hours before or after the medication dose. Note that excessive Biotin supplementation should be avoided because it is possible that it might interfere with seizure control.

Safety Issues

Biotin appears to be quite safe. However, maximum safe dosages for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease have not been established.

Interactions

If you are taking
  • Antiseizure medications: You may need extra biotin, but do not take more than the dosage recommendations listed in the Requirements/Sources section. In addition, take it 2 to 3 hours apart from your antiseizure medication.
  • Alcohol: You may need extra biotin.