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How to Address a Biotin Deficiency With Food

Biotin food sources

If you’re looking for natural ways to support your overall health, chances are you’ve encountered biotin (also known as vitamin B7) in your research.

Biotin is an essential micronutrient found in various foods, and it’s used by the body to support cellular health and health metabolism. It also supports healthy skin, strong hair, and nails. Biotin deficiencies are not common, but they can occur – and when they do, it’s important to know which foods contain this critical nutrient. Below, we’ll cover signs, symptoms, and risk factors for biotin deficiency and how food may play a role in recovery.

Biotin Deficiency Risk Factors

Biotin deficiency is a condition that occurs when someone’s body lacks sufficient levels of biotin. While this deficiency is rare, risk factors can affect the likelihood of someone having a biotin deficiency. Some of the most common risk factors include:

  1. Pregnancy – Up to 50% of women may experience a biotin deficiency during pregnancy.
  2. Medical history – Higher risk factors for gastrointestinal disease, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and related disorders affecting the stomach lining or the body’s ability to absorb nutrients may increase the risk factors for a biotin deficiency.
  3. Use of drugs or medications – Certain chemicals found in some drugs and medications have been known to interfere with biotin metabolism. These can include antiepileptics, isotretinoin, or prolonged use of antibiotics.
  4. Substance abuse – Excess use of alcohol may disrupt the normal uptake of nutrients.
  5. Genetic conditions – Disorders, including biotinidase deficiency, are known to affect biotin absorption.
  6. High raw egg consumption – The protein in raw egg whites, which is normally destroyed during cooking, can hinder biotin absorption.

Biotin Deficiency Signs and Symptoms

Low levels of biotin in the bloodstream can have a wide range of troubling health effects. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of biotin deficiency include:

  1. Hair loss – A biotin deficiency can cause hair and nails that are dry, brittle, and prone to breakage. Hair loss caused by biotin deficiency typically begins at the crown of the head and can spread to other areas of the scalp.
  2. Skin rashes – A biotin deficiency can manifest in mild to severe facial, neck, or arms rashes.
  3. Fatigue – People with a biotin deficiency often experience extreme fatigue, even after adequate rest or sleep. Decreased energy levels are often accompanied by difficulty focusing or concentrating on a task.
  4. Digestive issues – Biotin is necessary for proper digestion and absorption of food in the body, so when levels are low, digestive symptoms (such as abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea) can occur.
  5. Elevated blood sugar levels – Insulin sensitivity decreases when biotin levels are low. Over time, this can lead to high blood sugar levels
  6. Neurological symptoms – Biotin deficiency has also been linked to neurocognitive symptoms such as depression, anxiety, confusion, memory problems, and impaired cognitive function. Neurological symptoms can also include tingling in the hands or feet, sometimes accompanied by weakness or muscle cramps.

How to Address a Biotin Deficiency With Food

If you’re at risk for biotin deficiency or are biotin deficient, talk with your doctor about your symptoms. They’ll help you come up with a treatment plan to follow. Wondering how to address a biotin deficiency with food? Thankfully, you can find it in many dietary sources if you are concerned about your biotin levels or want to ensure you get all the biotin you need. Some of the best dietary sources of biotin include:

  • Beef liver
  • Cooked eggs
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Salmon
  • Whole grains
  • Bananas
  • Mushrooms
  • Soybeans
  • Black-eyed peas and other legumes
  • Avocados
  • Pork
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Nuts (especially almonds, peanuts, pecans, and walnuts) and nut butter

Use these suggestions as a general guide for maintaining health each day. A balanced diet is one of the best ways to get the nutrition you need to feel your best daily. Otherwise, learn how to select the best biotin supplement to help fill any nutritional gaps.