Would you consider yourself as someone who dabbles in the occasional skincare session or two? Well then, the chances are that you might have heard of biotin a lot then. It is the quintessential ingredient in many haircare and skincare products. But did you know that there are innumerable ways to supplement biotin in your vegan diet as well?
Here, we have compiled a comprehensive list of sources of biotin for you to incorporate into your diet. As you will see, a little goes a long way here. And while you may think that meat might be the best source of biotin – don’t worry. This list is completely vegan-friendly, and you will be surprised at the amount of nutrition you can get for your hair and skin from these biotin-rich vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
What is Biotin, and Why Do You Need it in Your Diet?
As we mentioned before, biotin is a vitamin that you’re most likely already including in your diet. But what does it do? Starting from the most important fact – biotin is a wonder-nutrient for your hair, nails, and skin. If your skin is on the drier side, you may want to consider your intake of biotin – as it nourishes your skin and increases the formation of fatty acids, which then regulates your sebaceous glands for oil production. It also makes your nails healthier, tougher, and shinier. So if you’re someone who suffers from brittle nails, you might want to look into increasing your biotin intake.
Apart from these beauty benefits, biotin is also a crucial nutrient for your digestion process. Biotin (or Vitamin B7) is responsible for breaking down other nutrient components that you consume (like carbs and fats) and turning them into usable energy.
Other benefits of biotin include decreasing susceptibility to extreme blood sugar levels, regulating symptoms of diabetes, and preventing biotin deficiency during pregnancy. Many women undergo biotin deficiency during their pregnancies, which is a much more common issue than we think. Additionally, biotin is also responsible for safeguarding neural and cognitive decline.
How Much Dietary Biotin Do You Need A Day?
Contrary to popular belief, you do not require copious amounts of biotin consumption in your diet. As we said before, a little goes a long way here. While the data for Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) and Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) is not enough, we can still extract information for Adequate Intake (AI) for different age groups, sexes, and health conditions.
The AI for males of all ages is as below:
|Age (in years)||AI (mcg)|
|0 – <1||7|
|1 – 3||8|
|4 – 8||12|
|9 – 13||20|
|14 – 18||25|
The AI for females of all ages is as below:
|Age (in years)||AI (mcg)|
|0 – <1||7|
|1 – 3||8|
|4 – 8||12|
|9 – 13||20|
|14 – 18||25|
While few viable studies talk about biotin intake in specific health conditions, you definitely want to increase your biotin levels if you have diabetes or have biotinidase deficiency. However, if you’re unsure as to how biotin would react with your other medication (if any), we recommend you speak to your physician.
As for bioavailability and absorption of biotin, as all orally administered substances, it’s quite low. Several studies show how large amounts of biotin often end up undigested and do not go through the metabolism process. To remedy this, you have to be looking carefully at your regular biotin intake and ensuring it’s enough.
Biotin And Hair Health
As we’ve talked about before, biotin is perhaps most popular for its amazing effects on your hair. Remember how we said biotin turns the nutrients in your body to usable energy? Well, in the process, it also produces certain compounds that are responsible for protein formation in your body. And as we know, there’s nothing more important than protein for the desired and healthy hair.
Not only that, but biotin also helps your body in producing keratin. As you may know, this is a substance that strengthens your hair and reduces damage considerably. Most hair care experts prescribe keratin treatments for your hair, no matter what your hair type is.
It also nourishes the hair follicles on your head, ensuring faster hair growth and overall better hair quality. Thus, it prevents a huge number of hair-related conditions that you might otherwise have – hair loss, hair fall, or the dreaded alopecia.
Is a Vegan Diet Inherently Deficient in Biotin?
If you’ve been exploring veganism for a good while, you might be aware of the several nutrient deficiencies that plant-based individuals should be wary of. Similarly, many might many argue that vegans miss out on the integral sources of biotin that everyone advocates for, it’s simply not true. Your vegan diet may already include several sources of biotin that you may not know about. While yes, it is true that meat contains the largest amount of biotin and may be the quickest way for biotin intake – remember that you also do not need large amounts of biotin for sustenance.
For instance, a single serving of vegetables high in biotin fulfills more than half your biotin requirement for the day. So the quick answer is no: you do not need to take special measures for biotin inclusion.
Since cases of biotin deficiency are rare, there is no cause for worry in incorporating biotin into your vegan diet. In fact, you don’t even have to go out of your way to do so! Just stick to your regular vegan meal plan and look on.
Signs that may Indicate a Biotin Deficiency
While a biotin deficiency is extremely rare and does not take place if you engage in a healthy diet regularly. However, once it does occur, its symptoms can be quite unexplained and be a hassle to control. Here are the symptoms you should look out for if you think you might not be receiving enough biotin in your diet.
Physical symptoms: Alopecia (patches of baldness on your head), inflammatory red rashes on your skin (and other skin-related conditions), brittle hair and nails, and unusual amounts of acid in your urine.
Internal symptoms: Neurological abnormalities such as hallucinations and periods of hyperactivity, depression and subsequent symptoms of fatigue or mania, nausea, abdominal difficulties, digestive issues, and muscle-related aches.
While these symptoms of a biotin deficiency can sound scary, it’s as we said – a rare number of the population contracts it. However, if you do experience any of these symptoms, we request you to contact your physician. You can avoid biotin deficiency by ensuring that your intake is sufficient. Here are some sources that you may already be including in your vegan diet.
The Best Vegan Biotin Sources
There is a surprising amount of biotin in food that you may already be consuming on the daily. Some of the most common biotin-rich vegan foods have an immense amount of biotin that you can incorporate into your daily meals in order to satisfy your AI for biotin are tomatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, peanuts, mushrooms, broccoli, strawberries, sunflower seeds, legumes (specifically soybeans), almonds, bananas, oats, avocados, cauliflowers, and walnuts.
|Food||Serving Size||Biotin (mcg)|
|Sweet Potatoes||Half cup||2.4|
|Sunflower Seeds||Quarter cup||2.6|
|Legumes (soybeans)||Half cup||38.6|
Of course, since only one serving of a particular food cannot satisfy biotin AI for the day, you can mix and match them to create full meals that can be rich in biotin overall. For instance, you can enjoy a nutritious breakfast by combining some almond milk (other vegan milk alternatives), strawberries, oatmeal, and bananas (check vegan status) – and you have with you the tastiest vegan breakfast bowl that is also rich in biotin.
Yet another idea for a fuller meal can be slicing up some tomatoes, mushrooms, and broccoli for a delicious avocado grilled toast. This is not only a brunch idea that your tastebuds will thank you for – but is also richly embedded with biotin, all at minimal effort. Additionally, you can even bake some banana bread or make almond butter and store it away for lazy days.
The absorption levels for biotin are quite high – so much so that you often don’t have to combine them in order for that good B vitamin to be absorbed. However, if you’re on medication that reduces your vitamin absorption, a simple trick is increasing the consumption of egg yolks into your diet.
Should Vegans Supplement with Biotin?
It is usually not a good idea for vegans to supplement their diet with biotin. While it may appear that your biotin intake is hampered by you not consuming meat and dairy products, it’s rarely so. As we have seen above, there are some quite simple ways to incorporate biotin into your diet without resorting to vegan biotin supplements. So unless you observe some anomalies, there is usually no need to consciously consume supplements. Besides, it is possible that too much biotin can be the opposite of nutritious.
Can Too Much Biotin Cause You Harm?
While there is a surprising lack of data on the adverse effects of consuming too much biotin, it can be assumed that it may have side effects in the long run. Studies have shown that biotin supplements can cause initial skin and digestive problems.
Those who choose to go for biotin supplements report inflammatory skin and nausea at the beginning of their supplement course. At the very least, there is a chance that synthetic biotin supplements can react undesirably with other medications you’re prescribed. They can also create inconsistencies in lab reports and push some other possible issues under the rug. Hence, it is best to stick to natural sources of biotin for consumption.
All in all, biotin is a godsend of a vitamin. If you’re lacking biotin in your diet and give one of these vegan sources of biotin a try, we guarantee you that there will be observable differences with your skin, hair, and nails. This vitamin is made even more amazing by the fact that it usually requires no supplements – so all you possibly need to do is make some minor changes in your dietary patterns.
So if you’re looking to take some steps to fix possible hair-thinning or brittle nail problems or just simply looking to go that extra mile to be cautious – you don’t have to do too much! Just review your most suitable vegan biotin sources mentioned above and fulfill your daily requirement with ease.