Biotin, also known as vitamin B7 or vitamin H, pops up in every supplement marketed for strengthening hair and nails. Do biotin supplements actually work for brittle nails?
The answer is – it depends. Gah! Read on for the gory details…
Are you getting enough biotin in your diet?
Nutritional supplements generally only make a difference if you’re not getting enough of that nutrient normally, and biotin seems to play by this rule.
The daily recommended intake of biotin for adults is 30 μg/day, and a Western diet generally contains enough biotin. You can find biotin in leafy green vegetables, nuts (peanuts and almonds in particular), avocados, corn, cooked eggs, liver, salmon and meat. Some intestinal bacteria make biotin, which could also contribute to your overall consumption.
Some factors can decrease your biotin though. Biotin seems to be lower with high alcohol consumption, smoking, gastric acid disorders, in burn patients, epileptics, athletes, the elderly and with some inborn genetic disorders. Pregancy and breastfeeding also decrease biotin.
Eating uncooked egg whites can also decrease biotin, even though cooked eggs are a good source! Raw egg white contains a protein called avidin which binds tightly to biotin, preventing it from working. Cooking the egg destroys the avidin.