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Biotin is a coenzyme and a B vitamin. It is also known as vitamin H. As a supplement, biotin is sometimes used for diabetes, brittle nails, and other conditions.

Why do people take biotin?

Biotin plays a key role in the body. It supports the health of the skin, nerves, digestive tract, metabolism, and cells. Biotin may also help to treat some types of nerve pathology, such as the peripheral neuropathy that can result from kidney failure or diabetes.

Biotin supplements have been studied as a treatment for a number of conditions. In people with type 2 diabetes, early research suggests that a combination of biotin and chromium might improve blood sugar. On its own, biotin might decrease insulin resistance and nerve symptoms related to type 2 diabetes. More research needs to be done. Some preliminary evidence suggests that biotin might help strengthen brittle nails. Other uses of biotin -- for conditions like cradle cap, hepatitis, hair loss, and depression -- are unsupported or untested.

However, most people don't need biotin supplements. We get biotin in foods naturally. Our bodies also recycle the biotin we've already used. Genuine biotin deficiency is quite rare.

Pregnant women sometimes have low levels of biotin, so some take biotin supplements. The benefits and risks aren't clear.

How much biotin should you take?

The Institute of Medicine has set an adequate intake (AI) for biotin. Getting this amount from diet, with or without supplements, should be enough to support good health.


Biotin: Adequate Intake (AI)

0-6 months

5 micrograms/day

7-12 months

6 mcg/day

1-3 years

8 mcg/day

4-8 years

12 mcg/day

9-13 years

20 mcg/day

14-18 years

25 mcg/day

19 years and up

30 mcg/day

Pregnant women

30 mcg/day

Breastfeeding women

35 mcg/day

Depending on your case, your doctor might recommend a higher dose. For diabetes, for example, one study used 2 milligrams in combination with 600 micrograms of chromium.

Even at high levels, biotin appears to be fairly safe. Researchers don't know at what dosage biotin might start to pose health risks.

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