Biotin. It sounds like some kind of organic metal. But actually it’s one of the most important and yet unheralded vitamins. Biotin belongs to the B complex family of vitamins (B7 to be precise). And without it your body would not be able to manufacture the enzymes that break down various types of food, including carbs, fat and more.
That, in turn, could lead to a rash of unpleasant symptoms including, but not limited to, hair loss, brittle nails, dermatitis, muscle pain and more (1). Unfortunately, there haven’t been any reliable tests developed that can detect low biotin levels. You need to keep your eye out for the symptoms yourself. That said, most people who’ve heard of biotin know it as something that might be able to help them prevent hair loss. And to a large extent the science validates that view (2).
Below we’ll look at the 10 best biotin supplements on the market today.
1. Doctor’s Best Biotin, Non-GMO
The exact amount of biotin a person should take is a subject that is very much up in the air. The truth however, is that it’s not a life or death equation because your body will just expel any excess it can’t use. So why not provide plenty and let your body figure it out? That seems to be the thinking behind Doctor’s Best Biotin.
They provide 10,000mcg of biotin in each and every capsule. Which should be more than enough to cover you for any eventuality. Doctor’s Best Biotin is produced in a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) facility under FDA supervision and is free of gluten, is vegan-friendly and contains no genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This is highly pure form of vitamin B7 and one that should help you fill any relevant nutritional gaps.
2. SBR Biotin Liquid Drops
People have become accustomed to taking their supplements in pill or capsule form. But the method of using an eyedropper to dispense a beneficial liquid supplement has a long successful history. SBR presents their Biotin supplement in liquid form that’s highly pure and easily dispensed with a drop or two under the tongue.
Some may quibble with the eyedropper method but remember, if you wind up taking more than your body has need for you’re just going to pee it out anyway. So you don’t need to be precise in your dosing. SBR Biotin Liquid Drops are both vegan and vegetarian friendly, contain no soy, sugar, milk, salt or gluten. And have a delightful natural vanilla flavor that helps the medicine go down. All SBR supplements are also made in the US in a GMP facility so you can be sure of the quality.
3. Solgar Super High Potency Biotin
Solgar is known for producing all types of high quality supplements. Their Super High Potency Biotin is no exception. These are straight up biotin capsules. Each one contains 10,000mcg of pure microcrystalline biotin suspended in water and nothing else. This supplement isn’t going to provide any food allergy problems or conflict with vegan or vegetarian diets.
There’s no sugar so it won’t affect blood glucose levels. And no salt, dairy, wheat or any type of artificial sweeteners, additives or preservatives. Just biotin. Solgar vitamins aren’t the cheapest on the market but you never have to worry about the quality or potency of the product.
4. Sports Research Biotin with Organic Coconut Oil
Sports Research infuses their Biotin supplement with organic coconut oil that helps enhance metabolism and reduce appetite. So what does that have to do with biotin and its hair and nail saving qualities? Not much actually. Other than potentially helping aid a bit in the absorption of the biotin.
But whether it does or not there’s nothing wrong with athletically minded individuals having a bit more energy and feeling a bit less hungry during the day. (The company is “Sports” Research after all, so this is right in their wheelhouse.) This is a vegetarian softgel capsule that’s gluten, sugar and sodium free. It’s also free of GMOs and doesn’t contain any known food allergens. There’s 5,000mcg in every capsule and every bottle of SR Biotin comes with a 90 day satisfaction guarantee.
5. Zenwise Health Biotin Softgels
If you’re concerned your hair, nails and skin may not be all they could be then taking biotin makes sense. Zenwise Health Biotin Softgels each contain 5,000mcg of pure biotin with no unwanted artificial additives and no egg, dairy, soy, nuts, wheat or gluten. All Zenwise Health supplements are produced in the US in an FDA compliant facility that is also GMP-certified.
The biotin in their capsules is gleaned from all natural sources and is presented here in an unadulterated state that’s ready for quick bio-absorption. Zenwise Health Biotin stacks easily with other vitamin and mineral combinations and won’t interfere with their actions or effectiveness. If you’re looking for a pure, simple, affordable biotin supplement consider this one.
6. Natrol Biotin Beauty Tablets
One thing you can’t say about biotin supplements is that they’re particularly exciting from a taste perspective. That’s not really an issue when you’re talking about gelcaps that are typically washed down whole. But tablets often linger in the mouth and actually start to disintegrate before swallowing. That can leave a bitter taste. To alleviate this Natrol introduced xylitol to their ingredient list some time back. And it works.
Their tablets give off a light sweet taste that makes them much more palatable than other tablets. The tablets themselves each contain 10,000mcg of biotin. Which is about as loaded as biotin supplements get. And their tablets are not burdened with soy, dairy, shellfish, nuts or any other typical allergens. While we’ve come across a number of sources that claimed Natrol adds calcium to this supplement, it’s not so.
7. Jarrow Formulas Biotin
Jarrow doesn’t present any surprises with their Biotin supplement. And that’s the way we like it. All you’re getting here are 5,000 micrograms of organically sourced biotin. It’s completely free of sugar, salt, soy, dairy, seafood, egg, nuts or any of the other common food allergens. It’s 100% vegetarian friendly and contains no sugar alcohols, artificial preservatives, artificial color or flavors either.
Just pure biotin in easy to digest veggie caps. Because of this high level of purity you can stack this supplement with pretty much any others you have in mind and you won’t experience any adverse reactions or side effects. Jarrow supplements are manufactured in the US in an FDA certified facility and meet the strictest quality control standards.
8. Zhou Hairfluence
Zhou Nutrition was pretty much a non-entity in the dietary supplement space as recently as a decade ago. Since then though they’ve made bold moves to become a mainstay of “best of” lists everywhere. Contrary to what the name may suggest they’re actually headquartered in Saint Louis, Missouri which is where they produce their 26 different supplements. Including their Hairfluence biotin product. There’s no mistaking who they’re targeting with this supplement. And that’s fine because, as we’ve mentioned, there’s plenty of evidence to support the notion that biotin can help slow or even reverse certain types of hair loss.
These capsules provide 5,000mcg of biotin each. But Zhou doesn’t stop there. Each capsule also contains vitamins A, C, D3, niacin, calcium and more. Making this one of the most well-rounded biotin based supplements on the market. If you like your supplements to provide a few secondary benefits Zhou Hairfluence may be just what the doctor ordered.
9. Nature’s Bounty Biotin Supplement
Nature’s Bounty Biotin Supplement is not the purest on the market but it is one of the most potent. Those impurities we allude to include soybean oil which some will have a problem with, and artificial coloring. Still, there are plenty of people out there for which those things won’t be any kind of issue. And beyond those twin indiscretions these are obviously high quality, thoughtfully formulated supplements from a company that’s been in business more than half a century.
While there is soy there’s no sugar, salt, starch, milk, lactose or gluten. There’s also no wheat, yeast or fish. And Nature’s Bounty supplements are all produced in a Good Manufacturing Practices facility in the US that’s subject to FDA oversight. They’re also reasonably priced.
10. Now Supplements Biotin
The last item on our list of best biotin supplements comes to us from Now Supplements. Another regular contributor to “best of” lists everywhere. Now Biotin provides 10,000mcg of pure organically sourced biotin that’s free of the usual suspects – soy, dairy, nuts, egg, seafood and more.
It’s also vegan and vegetarian friendly as well as being both Kosher and Halal. So there’s no excuse for anyone to skip out on the biotin they need to produce healthy hair, nails and skin. Produced in the US in a GMP facility.
What is Biotin?
Biotin (3) is one of the B vitamins (in this case Vitamin B7). It’s an integral part of maintaining a stable metabolism because it promotes the development of enzymes that drive the metabolic process. Biotin is sometimes called vitamin H because some of those enzymes it supports go into the making of hair, as we discussed at the start of this piece. But the role of B7 doesn’t stop there. It’s also key in the production of strong, healthy nails, helps ensure a healthy digestive environment and without it nerve cell production would suffer.
Is Biotin Deficiency a Real Problem?
While a biotin deficiency is rare it’s not entirely unheard of. When it does occur it’s symptoms are fairly easy to spot and include brittle nails, dry thin hair and skin rashes. Exactly why people suffer biotin deficiencies is not entirely clear. In some cases it might be the result of consuming too much raw egg white (don’t laugh, some people eat raw eggs as a matter of course). Others may be suffering from a genetic mutation that results in a lack of the enzymes the body needs to process biotin. This condition is often diagnosed shortly after birth and can be treated. The raw egg white cause is the more perplexing of the two since eggs are known to be a great source of biotin (4). As it turns out however raw egg whites contain a compound that prevents the absorption of biotin. So any biotin you get from the yolks is neutralized by the raw egg white.
Where Does the Biotin in Supplements Come From?
In some cases companies have to go to extreme lengths to find sources for certain vitamins (5). But in the case of biotin there is no shortage of ways to obtain it. Biotin can be found in some herbs and plants and is also found if certain types of fish, some dairy products, seeds, nuts and even avocado.
What Are the Benefits of Taking Biotin?
Biotin supplementation isn’t absolutely necessary for most people but it can be helpful nonetheless. And that’s because taking supplemental vitamin B7 has a range of potential benefits, including:
- Hair and nail growth – As we mentioned, biotin is sometimes called vitamin H because of its role in supporting hair growth. One of the easiest ways to detect a biotin deficiency is that the person will develop thin, brittle hair and equally brittle fingernails. If the deficiency is left untreated the person can be expected to develop dermatitis and other symptoms as well.
- May help treat MS – At the 2016 meeting of the American Academy of Neurology a pharmaceutical company called MedDay reported that their tests indicated biotin may have a role to play in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis (6). The results were preliminary and more testing will be needed to confirm the results, but the study was promising.
- May help treat diabetes – Because of the role it plays in metabolic processes researchers were curious whether it could be used to treat diabetes. And sure enough studies confirmed that it may be able to help some diabetics stabilize their blood glucose levels (7). While it’s certainly not a cure for diabetes it shows promise as one more tool in the fight against this debilitating disease.
- Promotes cardiovascular health – The B vitamins have long been known to promote cardiovascular health. The role of biotin in helping to break down fats and carbs is believed to contribute to this beneficial role.
- Stabilizes metabolism – Biotin is known to play an important role in the development of metabolic enzymes (8). Without adequate amounts of these enzymes our metabolic processes would falter. This is not to say that B7 will increase your metabolism, but without it you would have a hard time maintaining a stable metabolism and might experience fluctuations in weight as well as nutritional deficiencies.
- Enhanced brain health – It’s well known to science that the B complex vitamins play a key role in maintaining the health of neurotransmitters in the brain (9). In fact, it’s thought that deficiencies in dietary B complex can lead to the onset of dementia and perhaps Alzheimer’s disease as well.
While the potential health benefits of biotin are wide ranging there is no doubt that most people today engage in biotin supplementation as a way to help ensure thick, healthy hair and strong supple finger and toe nails.
Who Should Consider Taking Biotin?
Since research indicates B vitamins play such a key role in neurological and cardiovascular health there seems to be little downside to taking supplemental biotin, regardless of your reasons for doing so. That said, biotin supplementation may help some people more than others, particularly:
- Those with thinning hair or brittle fingernails – People who are experiencing unusual or unexpected hair loss (say, those with no history of hair loss in the family) may want to consider taking biotin supplements. Likewise, if there is evidence that your fingernails have recently grown brittle it may well be a sign that biotin supplements are called for.
- Pregnant women – Because of its central role in vital metabolic processes pregnant women would be well advised to take biotin (10). If you are pregnant and looking for a multivitamin to take make sure it includes biotin.
- Those taking medications that could impact biotin levels – There are some epilepsy medications that can affect biotin levels in the body. Antibiotics are believed to interfere with biotin levels as well. If your doctor puts you on a course of antibiotics it’s probably a good idea to ask if you should take supplemental biotin.
- Various other individuals – Alcoholics and those with Crohn’s disease or chronic liver disease may be at risk of abnormally low biotin levels. While it can be difficult to get alcoholics to do anything that is in their best interest it’s nonetheless worth noting that they might benefit from supplemental biotin.
Does Biotin Help People Lose Weight?
This is a very common misconception about biotin. Some folks think that, because biotin plays a role in metabolic processes that it can speed up the metabolism and help them lose weight. Unfortunately, as of this writing, there is no clinical proof to back up that assertion. The fact is there’s a difference between aiding in the metabolic process and speeding it up. A few things you eat (like fiber) are simply passed right through your body. Everything else, however is metabolized to repair cells or create new ones. Or it’s put to use as energy or stored as fat to be used as energy later.
Your metabolism – the rate at which your body processes food – is typically stable. Until you get older when it tends to slow down. Actually increasing your metabolic rate so you can burn off calories faster is more complicated than just taking a biotin pill. It usually entails increasing muscle mass, changing your diet and drinking coffee. Among other things (11).
Does Biotin Have Any Side Effects?
The odds that someone could overdose on biotin are virtually zero. Biotin is normally produced by the body in small but sufficient quantities to fulfill its role in fostering the proper development of metabolic enzymes. Should someone whose body is already producing enough biotin take biotin supplements the only likely effect is that the body will simply expel any biotin it doesn’t need by peeing it out.
There is, however, one important caveat to the “biotin is harmless” narrative. And it’s this: biotin has been shown to have the potential to disrupt various lab tests (12). It’s believed to be especially problematic when those lab tests are trying to determine a person’s hormone levels or issues with their thyroid. As a result it’s possible that a doctor, unaware that a person is taking biotin, could draw the wrong conclusions about particular health problem with unfortunate consequences for the patient.
Therefore, if you are taking supplemental biotin for any reason and you need to undergo any sort of blood testing make sure to inform your doctor or the relevant health professional before the tests are conducted. It’s a seemingly small move that could pay handsome dividends in the long run.
The Bottom Line
Biotin doesn’t get the kind of press that vitamin C does, nor will you hear about it in discussions regarding the hot diet of the day. But it’s one of those compounds that plays a foundational role in human physiology. And if you are deficient it could have a series of cascading effects that could leave you in a very difficult position.
Beyond its more esoteric functions though there is ample evidence to suggest biotin supplements can help a person stop, or even slightly reverse, hair loss (not male pattern baldness however, which is an entirely separate matter). And it also has an important and obvious role to play in the development of strong healthy finger and toenails. So take your biotin. Just remember to tell your doctor if you are.