We’ve just updated our page on biotin, an essential vitamin, also known as vitamin B7. It was discovered in a yeast culture at the same time as several other B-vitamins.
Biotin was initially researched in the context of skin and hair health, and today it is almost exclusively sold as a dietary supplement marketed to improve skin, nail, and hair quality. However, biotin is plentiful in food and rarely needs to be supplemented.
Apart from removing all food containing biotin from your diet (which makes it nigh impossible to maintain a healthy diet) the only way to cause a biotin deficiency is by eating excessive raw egg whites. Egg whites contain a protein called avidin, which is destroyed when the egg is cooked. Avidin binds to biotin and eliminates it from the intestines before it is absorbed.
At the moment, biotin does not have much evidence to support its use as an aesthetics supplement. Though it is biologically possible that increasing biotin intake or normalizing a deficiency could improve nail, hair, and skin quality, there is only one study to date to support this claim. This study found that women supplementing 2.5 mg of biotin over six months experienced improved nail health, as they were suffering from brittle and splitting nails. There are no strong studies to suggest healthy people supplementing biotin would experience any benefits.
There is preliminary evidence to suggest biotin could have a mild anti-diabetic effect. Much more research is needed to confirm this hypothesis.
Biotin is an essential vitamin, but it’s an underwhelming dietary supplement. There is very little evidence to support its use as a health and beauty supplement.