Best Biotin Supplements

Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for Best biotin supplements

Biotin, a common B vitamin that’s sometimes called vitamin H, finds itself at the center of many hair- and nail-growth advertising campaigns. While biotin does help hair and nail growth, it also does so much more. Cell rejuvenation and regeneration, as well as cell communication, rely on biotin, too.

If you’re considering purchasing a biotin supplement, you’ve come to the right place.

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Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin, which is one reason you can't get too much of it. Any excess is flushed out of the body in the urine. “Free” biotin – freed from protein – has an absorption rate of 100%.

Key considerations

What is biotin and what does it do?

Biotin is used by enzymes to break down fatty acids, glucose, and amino acids. It plays a role in other biological functions, including gene regulation and cell communication. The biotin found in food is usually bound to protein, but free-form biotin is common, too. Protein-bound biotin is processed in the intestines, which break apart the protein to free the biotin for absorption by the body.

Biotin is often advertised as a supplement to improve hair growth as well as strengthen hair and nails. Biotin reacts with enzymes to create the protein keratin, which forms part of the structure of hair. Increased biotin can help slow or prevent hair loss and strengthen the hair shaft itself.

While biotin deficiencies that require medical intervention are rare, a lack of biotin isn’t unheard of. The symptoms may include the following:

  • Thinning hair (which progresses to an overall loss of body hair)

  • Scaly, red rash around eyes, nose, and mouth

  • Pinkeye

  • Ketolactic acidosis

  • Acidic urine

  • Seizures

  • Skin infections

  • Brittle nails
     

One or several of these symptoms alone doesn’t mean you have a biotin deficiency because each can be a symptom of other illnesses.

Who needs a biotin supplement?

If you eat a variety of foods, you most likely get all the biotin you need. However, there are some behavioral, biological, and genetic factors that could put you at risk for biotin deficiency.

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women: Roughly one-third of pregnant women will develop a minor biotin deficiency even if they’re taking recommended levels of biotin. It’s also common for breastfeeding women to show a decrease in biotin levels in their plasma and breast milk even though they’re taking biotin at the recommended levels. Though there hasn’t been much research into why biotin levels go down during pregnancy and breastfeeding, biotin levels return to normal after this specific time in a woman’s life. Prenatal vitamins, which are standard for pregnant women, contain extra biotin. Be sure to consult your physician before taking an additional biotin supplement with prenatal vitamins.

  • Alcohol consumption and smoking: Alcohol consumption restricts the amount of biotin processed by the pancreas. Smoking can also interfere with the normal processing of biotin.

  • Kidney dialysis: Kidney dialysis alters the way the body processes vitamins and may flush more biotin out of the body than normal, necessitating the use of a biotin supplement.

  • Biotinidase deficiency: A rare autosomal recessive disorder called biotinidase deficiency prevents the body from using biotin as it should. People with this disorder have low biotin levels despite consuming or supplementing biotin in normal amounts. This condition can cause neurological and skin issues that in the most severe cases lead to coma or death. However, in the United States, babies are screened for this condition so that treatment can be started before symptoms manifest. Early and continued treatment throughout a person’s life effectively prevents the problems associated with this condition.

  • Brittle nails and hair and/or hair loss: Thinning and brittle hair and nails aren’t signs of a biotin deficiency, but there is evidence that taking extra biotin can help. Research has shown that a biotin supplement can increase the amount of hair grown and reduce the number of hairs shed. However, results aren’t instantaneous. It can take up to a year for noticeable changes.

Biotin features

Dosage: Biotin supplements vary in dosage, depending on the manufacturer. The recommended daily dose of biotin is small compared to other vitamins and minerals – a mere 30 mcg or .03 mg. However, research suggests that an increase in hair growth and strength for which many people take biotin comes with high doses of 10,000 mcg or 10 mg. High doses of biotin have no adverse physical effects, so it’s safe to take these doses even though they far exceed the recommended daily allowance. Supplements range anywhere from 2,500 mcg to 10,000 mcg. Supplements that offer less than 2,500 mcg are still helpful, but if you’re taking biotin for hair and nails, you might need to take more than one dose per day to get the desired effect.

Supplement form: Biotin comes in pills, capsules, liquids, and gummies. Of course, gummies are the easiest to take, but pills are definitely the most popular choice. Biotin pills can be big, especially those that pack a full 10,000 mcg per dose. Check the pill size before buying if you have trouble swallowing pills.

Organic, vegan, vegetarian, all-natural, GMO-free: A growing awareness of the harmful effects of chemicals and additives has led to more people looking for labels like organic, vegan, vegetarian, GMO-free, and all-natural. For example, gelatin, a common supplement additive, is derived from an animal source but can be replaced with pectin, a plant-based alternative. If you’re concerned about these issues, there's a biotin supplement out there that meets your specific needs and concerns. Keep in mind that many supplements with these labels cost more than those with synthetic and/or animal-based ingredients.

Additives, fillers, and binders: Additives, fillers, and binders are the inactive ingredients found in food and supplements. Biotin supplements with the labels we discussed above – organic, vegan, vegetarian, GMO-free, or all-natural – are more likely to be made without any harmful or animal-based additives. However, fillers and binders find their way into many supplements anyway. Look for a supplement with as few ingredients as possible, and keep your eye out for plant/vegetable-based ingredients and capsules.

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Did you know?
Several biotin supplement manufacturers offer a 30- to 90-day money-back guarantee, giving you a chance to see if the supplement works for you before committing to a large supply.
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Biotin supplement prices

Biotin is a relatively inexpensive supplement. Supplements range in price from $0.04 to $0.12 per dose.

While many of the supplements that contain animal products, additives, and/or are derived from a synthetic source are at the lower end of the price range, there are some inexpensive vegan, vegetarian, and organic options, too.

GMO-free, raw ingredients are often used to make the supplements at the high end of the price range. You may also find supplements labeled “biotin” and “keratin” or specifically targeted for hair growth that are actually a multivitamin with several vitamins that support hair, nail, and skin. These supplements may be as much as $0.33 per dose.

Tips

  • Take biotin supplements with food. This is recommended because the supplements can sometimes cause nausea and/or diarrhea.

  • Start with a low dose. A small percentage of people have reported that biotin supplements caused them to grow excess facial hair. If you start with a lower dose, you might be able to avoid this side effect.

  • Consume foods rich in biotin. Biotin can be consumed as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Foods rich in biotin include almonds, eggs (whole), salmon, pork chops, sunflower seeds, spinach, cheddar cheese, bananas, and apples. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but as you can see, biotin occurs naturally in many common foods.
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Biotin supplements take time to work. Hair and nails have to grow before you’ll see noticeable results. If you take biotin consistently, you may notice a difference in about 90 days, though for some people it may take several months or longer.

FAQ

Q. Is it possible to take too much biotin?

A. While there is a recommended daily dose of biotin (30 mcg for adults over the age of 18),  at this time there is no identifiable evidence that excess biotin becomes toxic or harmful at high dosages. However, excess biotin can interfere with certain laboratory tests, such as those used to measure thyroid function. If you’re taking biotin, be sure to report it to your physician, especially if you’ll be getting any lab tests, because it could cause an inaccurate diagnosis.

Q. Can biotin interfere with prescription medications?

A. Some medications do interact with biotin, and others can cause a drop in biotin levels. Again, it’s important to tell your physician of any supplements you’re taking whether they’re prescription or not. He or she should be able to tell you if your medications could interfere with your biotin levels or if biotin could be interacting with your medication.

Q. Do biotin supplements need to be refrigerated?

A. No, biotin doesn’t need to be refrigerated. However, like other supplements and vitamins, it should be kept in a cool, dry place that’s out of direct sunlight.

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