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These are the 7 biotin-rich foods you’re going to want to stock up on

Biotin, or vitamin B7 is a water-soluble vitamin that’s naturally present in some foods and available in supplements. The B vitamin is important for metabolizing food and many other bodily functions.

It’s a very popular dietary supplement, often promoted for healthier skin, hair, and nails. But do you really need to pop a biotin pill or gummy to get the recommended amount or the benefits?

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You may be getting more biotin than you realize from breakfast, lunch and dinner. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet and adding more biotin-rich foods can provide the body with the biotin and other nutrients it needs.

We spoke to experts about biotin benefits, supplements and which foods to eat to get more biotin from your diet.

Biotin benefits

Biotin is an important cofactor for enzymes that helps metabolize fatty acids, glucose and carbohydrates, according to the National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements. In other words, biotin helps the body convert food into the energy it needs.

“It’s an essential nutrient and we need it in our body, particularly for the skin and its appendages like hair (and nails),” Dr. Kathleen Suozzi, associate professor in the Department of Dermatology at Yale University, tells TODAY.com.

Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin, which means the body does not store it and any excess will get passed through the urine.

How much biotin do you need?

Adults need 30 micrograms of biotin daily. “If you are pregnant you also need 30 mcg, and if you’re breastfeeding you’ll need 35 mcg,” Frances Largeman-Roth, a registered dietitian nutritionist, tells TODAY.com.

Most people can get enough biotin from a balanced diet, the experts note, or if they take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamins (for pregnant or breastfeeding women). Always talk to your doctor if you have questions.

Biotin deficiency

Biotin deficiencies are rare. However, certain groups are more likely to have trouble getting enough biotin or develop a deficiency, says Suozzi. These include:

  • People with a biotinidase deficiency, a rare inherited disorder which prevents the body from releasing free biotin, says Suozzi
  • People with chronic exposure to alcohol or alcoholism
  • People who are pregnant or breastfeeding

Signs of a biotin deficiency may appear gradually, per the NIH. In the later stages, a biotin deficiency can cause:

  • Hair thinning

  • Hair loss

  • A scaly, red rash around orifices

  • Dry, red eyes

  • Brittle nails

  • Numbness in the extremities

If you are suffering from any of these, see your doctor who can determine whether a supplement is necessary, says Largeman-Roth.

Testing can confirm a biotin deficiency and rule out other common conditions which cause similar symptoms. “Again, among healthy individuals, a biotin deficiency is exceedingly rare,” Suozzi says.

Biotin-rich foods

If you’re looking to get more biotin, the best way is to add more biotin-rich foods to your diet, the experts emphasize. There are plenty of delicious and nutritious whole foods you can eat to get enough biotin for the day without having to pop a pill.

A healthy, balanced diet will also provide other vitamins and minerals that support skin, hair and nail health, says Suozzi.

“There’s so much interest and obsession with supplementation to provide what your diet is lacking, when we should really focus on having our diet cover our nutritional needs,” says Suozzi.

Beef liver

The food that contains the most biotin is beef liver, says Suozzi. Organ meats are chock full of biotin and other essential nutrients.

A three-ounce portion of cooked beef liver (roughly the size of a deck of cards) provides 30.8 mcg of biotin, per the NIH — that’s over 100% of your daily value.

Beef liver is lower in calories than other cuts of meat and packed with protein, iron, vitamin A and other B vitamins, per the Cleveland Clinic.

If you’re new to beef liver, a beef liver pate may be a nice entry point. Pate contains liver that’s been cooked down with herbs and spices until it’s spreadable. It’s a savory, rich snack and a great biotin-rich addition to your next charcuterie board.

Eggs

Eggs are great and versatile food to help amp up biotin in your diet.

One whole egg, cooked, provides 10mcg of biotin, which is about 33% of your daily value. So if you eat a three-egg omelet or scramble, consider your biotin needs met for the day.

In addition to providing protein and healthy fats, eggs are also a good source of vitamins A and D, selenium and B vitamins — which are important for hair growth and skin health, TODAY.com previously reported.

Salmon

Salmon is another biotin-rich food to add to your diet.

Three ounces of cooked salmon (a piece the size of your palm or about a 1/2 cup canned), provides 5 mcg of biotin or about 17% of your daily value, says Largeman-Roth.

Salmon, especially wild-caught varieties, is a superfood for many reasons. It’s full of healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, as well as nutrients like vitamin D, calcium and zinc, TODAY.com previously reported.

Top toast with both salmon and eggs and you have a biotin-rich nutrient-packed breakfast!

Pork chops

Pork, particularly lean cuts from the loin like pork chops, are a good source of biotin as well.

Just one three-ounce serving of pork chops (roughly one small chop or half a large chop) provides 3.8 mcg of biotin, which is 13% of your daily value.

Pork chops also provide protein, selenium, phosphorus and zinc, and make an easy lunch or dinner.

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are a great way to sprinkle extra biotin into your diet.

Just one-fourth cup of roasted sunflower seeds provides 2.6 mcg of biotin, per the NIH. That’s about 9% of your daily value.

The baseball field favorite is also packed with other nutrients. These superfood seeds are loaded with heart-healthy fats, fiber and folate, another B vitamin that helps convert carbs to energy for the body, TODAY.com previously reported.

Shelled seeds can be sprinkled on salads for an extra crunch or into yogurt and smoothies. If you’re feeling fancy, you can try creamy sunflower butter as a peanut butter alternative.

Sweet potatoes

Cooked sweet potatoes are a nutrient powerhouse, and they are also a natural source of biotin. Of all vegetables, sweet potatoes have the most biotin, Suozzi adds.

One-half cup or about 2.4 oz of cooked sweet potatoes provides 8 mcg of biotin, which is about 8% of your daily value.

The bright orange spuds are also packed with other nutrients like fiber, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C.

You can bake, roast, mash or fry them.

Almonds

Almonds are another easy way to boost your biotin intake.

One-fourth cup of roasted almonds provides 1.5 mcg of biotin, which is 5% of your daily value.

Almonds are also a natural source of protein, heart-healthy fats, fiber, magnesium and vitamin E, TODAY.com previously reported.

Other foods that contain biotin include tuna, spinach, broccoli and dairy products like cheese, milk and yogurt, says Suozzi.

Biotin sources

Biotin is found naturally in some foods, it’s available in supplement form and present in multivitamins and other products.

Most people will meet their biotin needs by eating a variety of whole, nutritious foods, the experts note. Biotin is found naturally in meats, fish, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and other foods.

Research suggests that the average biotin intake from foods in Western populations is 35–70 mcg/day, indicating that people in these countries consume enough biotin from their diet, per the NIH.

Who should take a supplement?

Biotin is available in dietary supplements, which may contain biotin only or a combination of B-complex vitamins.

“Most people do not require a biotin supplement,” says Largeman-Roth. People who have a true biotin deficiency, which is rare, may need to take a supplement (as directed by their doctor).

However, biotin supplements are still advertised for the masses to promote skin, hair and nail health. On social media, many claim these products give them glowing skin or luscious locks. Why?

This is likely because a biotin deficiency can cause rashes, brittle nails, and thinning hair. However, for the vast majority of the population which gets enough biotin, taking extra won’t do much. “Biotin is needed for healthy hair and skin, but excessive biotin isn’t going to promote healthier hair, nails or skin,” says Suozzi.

Claims supporting the use of biotin supplements for skin or hair health are supported by a few small studies, at best, per the NIH, and more research is needed.

You’ll just be flushing that excess biotin, and the money you spent on the supplements, down the toilet.

Biotin supplement risks

There is no clear upper limit or toxic level for biotin in humans. “However, high biotin intake and supplements can interact with lab values, in particular assays for detecting thyroid hormones and vitamin D,” says Suozzi.

Excess biotin may produce falsely normal or abnormal results, says Suozzi, which can be problematic. This could lead to a misdiagnosis of hyperthyroidism, for example, and inappropriate treatment. “Even a single dose of biotin can interfere with thyroid function tests within 24 hours of taking this supplement,” says Suozzi.

Biotin can also interact with some medications, including anti-convulsant medications used to treat epilepsy, Suozzi adds.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com


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