Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin that plays an important role in metabolizing the energy we get from food. Biotin assists four essential enzymes that break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.

Biotin deficiency is rare, except, possibly, among pregnant women. All proposed therapeutic uses of biotin supplements are highly speculative.

Although biotin is a necessary nutrient, we usually get enough from bacteria living in the digestive tract. Severe biotin deficiency has been seen in people who frequently eat large quantities of raw egg white. Raw egg white contains a protein that blocks the absorption of biotin. Fortunately, cooked egg white does not present this problem.

The official US and Canadian recommendations for daily intake of biotin are as follows:

  • Infants
    • 0-5 months: 5 mcg
    • 6-11 months: 6 mcg
  • Children
    • 1-3 years: 8 mcg
    • 4-8 years: 12 mcg
    • 9-13 years: 20 mcg
  • Males and Females
    • 14-18 years: 25 mcg
    • 19 years and older: 30 mcg
  • Pregnant Women: 30 mcg
  • Nursing Women: 35 mcg

Good dietary sources of biotin include brewer's yeast, nutritional (torula) yeast, whole grains, nuts, egg yolks, sardines, legumes, liver, cauliflower, bananas, and mushrooms.

There is some evidence that slight biotin deficiency may tend to occur during normal pregnancy.9 For this reason, pregnant women are advised to take a prenatal vitamin that contains the recommended amount of biotin.