Biotin Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Epidemiology, Role of Biotin in Body, What foods are high in biotin

There are various nutritional disorders which are caused by deficiency of various vitamins and minerals in the body. One such nutritional disorder caused by a deficiency of the water soluble vitamin B7, termed Biotin is known as Biotin deficiency. This is in fact a rare nutritional disorder which can be caused by various factors. In this current article of ours we will talk about the causes and treatments of Biotin deficiency.

Biotin Deficiency

Overview on Biotin and Biotin Deficiency:

Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, like most Vitamin B, is a water soluble vitamin required by all living beings, except bacteria, yeast, fungi and molds that can make the vitamin on themselves. That means, bacteria living inside our intestines create biotin on their own and share the vitamin with the host organisms. Biotin or vitamin B7 helps in supporting adrenal function, helps in calming down and maintaining a healthy nervous system and also necessary for key metabolic processes of life.

It must be noted that biotin deficiency is not very common, and usually a very rare nutritional disorder, especially in healthy individuals who consume a regular balanced diet. However, specific medications and diets can lead to biotin deficiency in certain individuals. Most common symptoms of biotin deficiency include brittle hair, hair loss, dry skin, nausea, muscle pain, fatigue, depression etc. We will talk about the causes and symptoms along with the treatments for this deficiency in our following array of the article.

What Foods are High in Biotin?

Biotin as mentioned earlier is an important nutrient required by the body. There are some foods which are known to be good source of biotin. Some of them include:

  1. Cooked eggs; mostly the yolk.
  2. Brewer’s yeast
  3. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, peanuts etc.
  4. Whole grains
  5. Nut butter
  6. Vegetables like cauliflower, mushrooms etc. and fruits like bananas.
  7. Soybeans
  8. Legumes like beans, peas etc.

Apart from the dietary or the food sources, biotin can also be taken in some other forms like the biotin supplements, supplements in multivitamins and in vitamin B complexes. Usually standard preparations of biotin supplements are available in tablet form, mostly the 10 mcg, 50 mcg and 100 mcg tablets.

What is the Role of Biotin in the Body?

Biotin plays a great role in our body. Some of the important benefits of biotin include the following.

  • Biotin helps in carbohydrate, fats and protein metabolism in the body and also assists in energy production in the body.
  • It is also known that biotin aids in maintaining good skin and hair. That is the reason why hair loss, rashes on skin etc. are symptoms of lack of biotin or biotin deficiency in the body.
  • Biotin also helps in production of glucose in the body and this is why it also has an effect on the amount of sugar present in the blood. Thus, biotin is known for maintaining a healthy level of blood sugar in the body.
  • Biotin also plays an important role in proper functioning of nervous system.

Epidemiology of Biotin Deficiency:

  • Biotin deficiency can occur in any race
  • Biotin deficiency occurs at an equal rate and frequency in both men and women
  • Deficiency of biotin can occur at any age.
  • As biotin is present in most of the foods, biotin deficiency is very rare. However, it occurs in locations where there is an increased rate of malnutrition.
  • Pregnant women however have greater chance to meet with biotin deficiency; as pregnancy alters the biotin catabolism. So, irrespective of biotin intake, about half of the pregnant women in the United States are known to be biotin deficient.

Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency:

Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency

Physical Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency: It’s Impact on Skin and Hair

  • Physical symptoms of biotin deficiency start appearing in the skin and hair at first.
  • There is a dry skin and is often associated with Seborrheic dermatitis.
  • Fungal infections are noticed.
  • Rashes, including erythematous periorofacial macular rash and skin lesions appear.
  • Hair loss or total alopecia is one of the physical symptoms of biotin deficiency.
  • Fine and brittle hair are common symptoms of biotin deficiency

Hearing Loss Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency:

  • Biotin deficiency may develop sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss may either be mild, moderate or severe.

Neurologic Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency: Associated with Central and Peripheral Nervous System:

  • There may be symptoms of mild depression and may eventually progress to somnolence.
  • Symptoms of generalized muscular pains or myalgias may be noticed with Biotin Deficiency.
  • There may be changes in mental status with biotin deficiency.
  • Hyperesthesias and paraesthesias are common.
  • Biotin responsive seizures are seen in biotin deficient people.

Intestinal Tract Disorder Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency:

  • Nausea can be a symptom of biotin deficiency. Occasionally nausea can become severe.
  • Vomiting is one intestinal symptom in biotin deficiency.
  • Anorexia is occasionally found in biotin deficient people.

Causes of Biotin Deficiency:

Below we will list down some of the causes for biotin deficiency.

  1. Dietary Causes of Biotin Deficiency: Let us talk about some of the dietary causes of biotin deficiency here.

    • A diet containing raw egg whites quickly and invariably lead to biotin deficiency.
    • People receiving prolonged total parenteral nutrition therapy without any added biotin supplements in their diet are reported to have biotin deficiency.
    • Ketogenic diet, or a diet with high protein and low fat can cause biotin deficiency.
  2. Biotin Deficiency Caused Due to Anticonvulsant Therapy: It is also noted that prolonged use of some specific drugs, especially phenytoin, Carbamazepine, Primidone etc may cause biotin deficiency. It is found that certain anticonvulsants inhibit biotin transport across the intestinal mucosa. There are evidences suggesting that anticonvulsants accelerate biotin catabolism. Thus, it is suggested to add biotin supplements to daily requirements in order to prevent biotin deficiency, especially in patients who are in to anticonvulsant therapy for a longer time.

  3. Prolonged Oral Antibiotic Therapy Can Cause Biotin Deficiency: People who are into prolonged oral antibiotic therapy can suffer from biotin deficiency. Prolonged administration of antibiotics is presumed to cause biotin deficiency in patients because of the alteration in internal flora.

  4. Biotin Deficiency Caused Due to Genetic Mutation: It is known that genetic mutation can cause biotin deficiency. It is reported that about 140 mutations in the biotinidase gene or BTD can lead to biotin deficiency.

Diagnosis for Biotin Deficiency:

There are some most reliable and commonly used diagnosis methods used to diagnose biotin deficiency in the body. They are:

  • Excretion of 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid and Biotin in urine.
  • Activity of Propionyl-CoA-Carboxylase in lymphocytes.

Treatments for Biotin Deficiency:

Let us now talk about the treatments for biotin deficiency in this section:

  • Usually a biotin deficiency can be treated easily. If you are biotin deficient, you can improve the biotin level by consuming foods rich in biotin. It is known that Dragon fruit is a rich source of biotin and helps you in growing biotin or vitamin B7 content in your body. Other foods like carrots, cauliflower, soy products etc also carry biotin in them and you can take them in your regular diet for improving biotin content and reducing symptoms of biotin deficiency.
  • Apart from this, you must keep a note to ignore or reduce the foods which can raise your chances for biotin deficiency. Stop depending on raw egg whites if you take them.
  • Talk to your doctor in case you are taking any antibiotic medication or in to any medication that may lead to biotin deficiency.
  • Supplemental biotin tablets are available which can be taken for treating symptoms of biotin deficiency.
  • Supplement your diet with biotin as well as probiotics which resupply the intestine with essential bacteria that can produce biotin on their own.


Now, we know about the causes, symptoms, treatments and prevention for the rare nutritional disorder called Biotin deficiency. One thing must be clear that we are fortunate enough because this is a rare nutritional disorder. However, it is essential to maintain a healthy diet and consult with your doctor in case you find any symptoms of the deficiency.

Biotin deficiency is easy to treat and also easy to prevent.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 7, 2017

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