Biotin: Recommendations and Dietary Sources

Abstract

In this article, we describe:

  • the major purposes of this specific nutrient in the human body, 
  • its experimentally confirmed health uses, 
  • conventional ways to estimate nutrient status,
  • nutrient’s toxicities and deficiencies,
  • experimentally confirmed and approved levels of the nutrient intake for different demographics,
  • dietary sources of the nutrient.

Introduction

Biotin, a B vitamin, is an essential nutrient that is naturally present in some foods and available as a dietary supplement. It is a cofactor for carboxylases that catalyze critical steps in the metabolism of fatty acids, glucose, and amino acids. Biotin also plays key role in cell signaling.

B Complex vitamins are all water soluble and are not stored very well in the body. Thus, they are needed daily through diet or supplement to support their many functions. Deficiencies of one or more of the B vitamins may occur fairly easily, especially during times of fasting or dieting for weight loss or with diets that include substantial amounts of refined and processed food, sugar, or alcohol.

Most biotin in foods is bound to protein, although some dietary biotin is in the free form. Free biotin (original or released in the intestinal lumen) is absorbed in the small intestine and is stored in the liver.

In healthy adults, the concentration of biotin is 133–329 pmol/L in serum and 18–127 nmol/24 hours in urine. Abnormally low urinary excretion of biotin is an indicator of biotin deficiency, as is abnormally high excretion of 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid. The most reliable individual markers of biotin status, including deficiency and sufficiency, are biotinylated methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase and propionyl-CoA carboxylase in white blood cells. Oral administration of large doses of biotin increases serum concentrations of biotin and its metabolites. However, serum concentrations of biotin and its catabolites are not good indicators of marginal biotin deficiency because they do not decrease sufficiently in people with marginal biotin deficiency.

Biotin deficiency is rare, and severe biotin deficiency in healthy individuals eating a normal mixed diet has never been reported. However, the following groups are among those most likely to have inadequate biotin status: individuals with biotinidase deficiency; individuals with chronic alcohol exposure; pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Biotin was promoted for hair, skin, and nail health.

High biotin intakes may pose another type of health risk. Supplementing with biotin beyond recommended intakes can cause clinically significant falsely high or falsely low laboratory test results, depending on the test. These incorrect results may lead to inappropriate patient management or misdiagnosis of a medical condition.

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Recommended Intake of Biotin

Due to insufficient data, only Adequate Intakes were established for Biotin.

AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
Birth to 6 months5 mcg5 mcg
7–12 months6 mcg6 mcg
1–3 years8 mcg8 mcg
4–8 years12 mcg12 mcg
9–13 years20 mcg20 mcg
14–18 years25 mcg25 mcg30 mcg35 mcg
19+ years30 mcg30 mcg30 mcg35 mcg

Food Sources of Biotin

Foods that contain the most biotin include organ meats, eggs, fish, meat, seeds, nuts, and certain vegetables (such as sweet potatoes). The biotin content of food can vary; for example, plant variety and season can affect the biotin content of cereal grains, and certain processing techniques (e.g., canning) can reduce the biotin content of foods.

Dietary avidin, a glycoprotein in raw egg whites, binds tightly to dietary biotin and prevents biotin’s absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. Cooking denatures avidin, making it unable to interfere with biotin absorption.

Selected Food Sources of Biotin 

FoodMicrograms
(mcg) per
serving
Percent
DV*
Beef liver, cooked, 3 ounces30.8103
Egg, whole, cooked10.033
Salmon, pink, canned in water, 3 ounces5.017
Pork chop, cooked, 3 ounces3.813
Hamburger patty, cooked, 3 ounces3.813
Sunflower seeds, roasted, ¼ cup2.69
Sweet potato, cooked, ½ cup2.48
Almonds, roasted, ¼ cup1.55
Tuna, canned in water, 3 ounces0.62
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup0.52
Broccoli, fresh, ½ cup0.41
Cheddar cheese, mild, 1 ounce0.41
Milk, 2%, 1 cup0.31
Plain yogurt, 1 cup0.21
Oatmeal, 1 cup0.21
Banana, ½ cup0.21
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice0.00
Apple, ½ cup0.00
  • DV = Daily Value.
  • Biotin has a DV of 30 mcg for adults and children age 4 years and older.
  • Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient, but foods providing lower percentages of the DV also contribute to a healthful diet.

References

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