Biotin Deficiency: Everything You Need to Know

biotin deficiency

Quick Health Scoop

  • Biotin (vitamin B7) is an essential nutrient found in many foods, but the amount of biotin present in those foods can vary
  • It’s very rare for people living in the United States to have a biotin deficiency
  • There are certain populations, however, that are more likely to have difficulty consuming enough biotin from their diets alone
  • Biotin deficiency symptoms include hair loss, brittle nails, and red rashes on the skin

For most people living in the United States, a biotin deficiency is very rare. Apart from having a relatively low daily recommended amount of only 30 mcg, this essential B vitamin is also found in a range of foods.1

That said, there are distinct biotin deficiency symptoms, and certain groups of people are more at risk of not getting enough biotin from their diets alone. Here are a few key things to keep an eye out for when it comes to a biotin deficiency. 

Learn More: Biotin Health Benefits

What Are Biotin Deficiency Symptoms?

Signs of a biotin deficiency include hair loss, brittle nails, and scaly red rashes around the eyes, nose, mouth, or genital area.2 

What Would Cause A Biotin Deficiency? 

Key risk factors for developing a biotin deficiency include consistently eating raw egg whites, lack of biotin from diet, and smoking.2 

Certain groups of people are more likely to have difficulty consuming enough biotin from their diets alone:1

Learn More: How to Eat Healthy All Year

What Happens If You Lack Biotin?

Prolonged lack of biotin intake could lead to a biotin inadequacy or deficiency. Biotin deficiency can cause issues in your skin, eyes, hair, and nervous system.3 Symptoms include but are not limited to skin rash, hair loss, brittle nails, or even pinkeye.1 

How To Increase Biotin Intake

Biotin is an essential vitamin, and can be found in lots of foods. But the concentration of biotin in food varies substantially. For example, liver contains biotin at about 100 μg/100 g while fruits and most meats contain only about 1 μg/100 g. 

Here is a list of foods containing biotin:4

  • Beef liver (cooked, 3 ounces ODSHP): 30.8 mcg biotin per serving
  • Egg (whole, cooked): 10.0 mcg biotin per serving
  • Salmon (pink, canned in water, 3 ounces): 5.0 mcg biotin per serving
  • Pork chop (cooked, 3 ounces): 3.8 mcg biotin per serving
  • Hamburger patty (cooked, 3 ounces): 3.8 mcg biotin per serving
  • Sunflower seeds (roasted, ¼ cup ODSHP): 2.6 mcg biotin per serving
  • Sweet potato (cooked, ½ cup ODSHP): 2.4 mcg biotin per serving
  • Almonds (roasted, ¼ cup ODSHP): 1.5 mcg biotin per serving
  • Tuna (canned in water, 3 ounces): 0.6 mcg biotin per serving
  • Spinach (boiled, ½ cup): 0.5 mcg biotin per serving
  • Broccoli (fresh, ½ cup): 0.4 mcg biotin per serving
  • Cheddar cheese (mild, 1 ounce): 0.4 mcg biotin per serving
  • Milk, 2% (1 cup): 0.3 mcg biotin per serving
  • Plain yogurt (1 cup): 0.2 mcg biotin per serving
  • Oatmeal (1 cup): 0.2 mcg biotin per serving
  • Banana (½ cup): 0.2 mcg biotin per serving

Learn More: How Much Biotin Should I Take?

How Do You Fix Biotin Deficiency? 

Biotin deficiencies are rare and should be treated under the guidance of a healthcare professional. 

That said, there are distinct biotin deficiency symptoms, such as skin rash, brittle nails, or hair loss. Also, certain groups are more at risk of not getting enough biotin from their diets alone, such as pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with alcohol dependence, or those with a rare genetic disorder known as “biotinidase deficiency.”1 Consult your healthcare practitioner if you think you may be at risk of or developing a biotin deficiency.

The Bottom Line

While biotin deficiencies are very rare in the U.S., this essential nutrient plays many important roles in the body. Thankfully, biotin is found in many foods such as eggs, salmon, cheddar cheese, pork, sweet potatoes, or sunflower seeds.2,4 Dietary supplements can help fill any gaps in your diet as well. But keep in mind that biotin may interfere with some lab tests and be sure to let your doctor know you’re consuming a biotin supplement if you need to do lab tests. Even if you don’t have a deficiency, if you’re not getting enough of this vital B vitamin from your diet alone, increasing your intake even marginally, can have a positive effect. 

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This information is intended only for educational purposes and is not medical advice or a recommendation for any specific product. Consult your health care provider for more information.

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

References

  1. National Institutes of Health. “Biotin: Fact Sheet for Consumers.” Office of Dietary Supplements. 2021. Accessed on: October 8, 2021. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Biotin-Consumer/
  2. Oregon State University. “Biotin.” Linus Pauling Institute, Micronutrient Information Center. 2015. Accessed on: October 8, 2021. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/biotin
  3. Institute of Medicine (US) Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes and its Panel on Folate, Other B Vitamins, and Choline. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1998. 11, Biotin. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK114297/
  4. National Institutes of Health. “Biotin: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.” Office of Dietary Supplements. 2021. Accessed on: October 8, 2021. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Biotin-HealthProfessional/