Sunday, July 17, 2011

Learned and Lacquered: Biotin

Personally, I avoid taking vitamins. I take enough prescription medications already, so I'm not too keen to add any more in if I don't really need them. However, there are several different vitamins and nutrients that have been shown - though there are have only been a few studies, so it's not by any means guaranteed - to help nail health and growth. Zinc, vitamin E, silicon, iron, and L-cysteine have all been reported to help nail health, but today I'm going to focus on biotin.
Biotin, probably the most well-known "nail health pill," is actually vitamin H. It's part of the B complex group of vitamins, which is necessary for healthy skin, hair, nails, eyes, and liver. Because biotin is water-soluble, it is not stored in the body - that means that you have to have a constant source of biotin for it to make a long-term difference.

Fortunately, there are several different sources for biotin. Some foods are sources of biotin: brewer's yeast (I like it on popcorn!), cooked eggs and egg yolks, sardines, nuts, soybeans, beans, black-eyed peas, whole grains, cauliflower, bananas, and mushrooms all contain biotin. However, it's important to remember that food processing techniques often destroy biotin, so that's yet another reason to eat more naturally grown and unprocessed foods.

Biotin is also available as a supplement, both on its own and as part of multivitamins. One issue that often comes up with taking supplements is toxicity. However, with biotin, you don't have to worry about that. Biotin has not been shown to have any side effects, even with high doses, and is considered non-toxic.

So, who should take biotin? Though biotin deficiency can occur, it is very rare, and is seen most often in people from Saudi Arabia. However, even if you don't have abnormally low levels of biotin, it can still help strengthen your nails. You may particularly want to take biotin if you are on long-term antibiotics, as those can destroy intestinal bacteria that make biotin, or if you take anticonvulsant medications.

Here's the summary:
  • Biotin, which is actually vitamin H, can help nails grow stronger and healthier.
  • Biotin can be consumed both in some foods and in over-the-counter supplements.
  • Biotin has not been shown to have any side effects, even in high doses.
  • Long-term antibiotic or anticonvulsant medication use can reduce the body's levels of biotin, in which case a supplement may be particularly advisable.
I hope you found this post both enjoyable and informative!


  1. It's so funny that you posted on this today because I've been having problems with my nails lately and I just started taking a biotin supplement yesterday. I know it takes months to make a difference, but my fingers are crossed that coupled w/everything else I'm doing, I'll see results quicker than that.
    Great post :)

  2. Great post I take healthy hair skin and nails vitamins from andrew lessman which is mostly biotin and I think I notice a diff

  3. i took biotin for about 8 months.  loved what it did for my nails, but gave me horrible cystic acne, so I stopped.

  4. Oh no! I've never heard of it having such awful side effects before.

  5. I am going to have to give it a try. My nails peel at the tips of my indexfingers and sometimes thumbs. Thanks for the info!

  6. You're welcome! I think I may have to give it a try as well.

  7. My grandmother took this vitamin religiously for a year. She had nails that would fold down and were super soft. Now she has amazingly long strong thick healthy nails thanks to Biotin. I highly recommend it. Great Post !!

  8. Thanks, and thanks for the anecdote!

  9. I rarely use any vitamins or stuff, but who knows, maybe it would be good to have something that will make my nails stronger..

  10. I haven't used biotin either, but I think I may try it. I could definitely use stronger nails!

  11. i have been taking biotin for about a year now. it makes my nails grow like weeds! i have invisible lashes without mascara. using the same fav mascara one day , i noticed i was developing a false lash effect.even my lashes were getting thicker and longer. i actually had to use a small , sterilized pair of scissors to trim my lashes at my inner corners because they were getting too long & in my eyes!in addition to the biotin , i also take a multi vitamin daily.

  12. Wow, that's amazing! My eyelashes are already quite long, so I can't imagine what biotin would do. :)

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