With the countless topical products on the market to improve your hair, skin, and nails, we often forget that beauty is also an inside job. Taking a biotin supplement, also known as vitamin B7, can help hair and nail growth from the inside out. Biotin is also touted to promote a glowing complexion. It carries a slew of health benefits, too. For one, the body needs biotin to convert food into energy and also for the healthy functioning of your nervous and cardiovascular systems.
If you're considering starting a biotin supplement, we've got you covered with everything you need to know about safety, dosage, and the best brands available. Our favorite biotin supplement is pharmaceutical-grade and has no fillers or additives.
Considerations when choosing biotin supplements
While you don't have to have a biotin deficiency to reap the benefits of a biotin supplement, there are some conditions that can put you at risk for low levels of B7.
Vegetarian diet: Meat is a big source of biotin, so if you're not eating meat regularly, you're at risk for not only a B7 deficiency but for other B vitamin deficiencies as well.
Pregnancy: One third of pregnant women experience a dip in their biotin levels during pregnancy, as well as breastfeeding mothers. This is why prenatal vitamins often contain biotin. Check with your doctor before adding a biotin supplement if you're already taking a prenatal one.
Alcohol consumption and smoking: Both smoking and alcohol consumption can interfere with the normal processing of biotin and lead to a deficiency.
Brittle nails and hair: Although thinning hair and nails aren't a sign of B7 deficiency, taking biotin can help. Research shows that a biotin supplement can increase hair growth and reduce the number of hairs shed. Be aware that it can take up to a year of daily supplementation to see results.
While the recommended range for biotin supplementation is a mere 30 to 70 micrograms (mcg) a day, if you're looking for improved hair and nail strength and growth, research suggests taking up to 10,000 mcg (10 mg) a day. This high dose of biotin is considered safe, and supplements generally range from 2,500 mcg to 10,000 mcg per dose.
Biotin supplements come in a variety of forms. Gummies are the easiest to take, while pills are the most popular. Liquid forms are also available. If you have trouble swallowing pills, be aware that a 10,000-mcg capsule is quite large.
Organic, vegan, vegetarian, all-natural, GMO-free
Select biotin supplements with these labels if you're concerned about harmful chemicals that can be found even in health supplements. If you're a vegetarian taking this B vitamin, a vegetarian/vegan capsule won't contain gelatin, which is sourced from animals, but will instead use the plant-based alternative pectin.
Additives, fillers, and binders
"Inactive" ingredients found in supplements are called additives, fillers, and binders. They can have adverse effects or contain animal products. For the purest product, select a biotin supplement with as few ingredients as possible.
Other important details
Biotin supplements are inexpensive, ranging in price from $0.04 to $0.12 per dose. Supplements that are derived from synthetic sources and ingredients, and that may contain animal products, are at the lower end of this price range. GMO-free and pure formulas are at the higher end of this range, though you can find decent-quality vegan, vegetarian, and organic options at a low price.
Some supplements labeled as biotin and targeting hair, nail, and skin health may come at a higher price point of $0.33 per dose, but these are actually multivitamins containing several other ingredients like keratin.
Q. Should I take biotin supplements with food or on an empty stomach?
A. Take biotin with food because it can sometimes cause stomach upset like nausea or diarrhea.
Q. Are there any other reported side effects of taking biotin?
A. A minority of consumers, specifically women, have reported an unwanted increase in facial hair. In an effort to avoid this side effect, we recommend starting with a lower dose. As always, consult with your healthcare practitioner if you have any concerns.
Biotin supplements we recommend
Best of the best: Eu Natural Biotin Vegetarian Soft Capsules
Our take: A 99.8% pure biotin supplement formulated for safety and potency.
What we like: Pharmaceutical-grade 5,000 mcg of biotin in each easy-to-swallow soft capsule. Free of fillers, additives, wheat, and dairy.
What we dislike: Contains rice flour, which some consumers consider a filler.
Best bang for the buck: Natrol Biotin Maximum Strength Beauty Tablets
Our take: Exceedingly affordable, this two-pack offers a potent punch.
What we like: Each tablet offers a whopping 10,000 mcg of biotin for optimal results. Bottles come in a two-pack, making it a cost-effective purchase.
What we dislike: Contains binders and fillers.
Our take: For vegetarians, this is an inexpensive choice featuring 5,000 mcg of biotin per capsule.
What we like: Formulated without gluten, soy, eggs, dairy, and peanuts, making these capsules a match for those with food sensitivities. Consumers see results in hair growth and shine.
What we dislike: Contains some additives.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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