Disease prevention and therapeutic use

There is no direct evidence that marginal biotin deficiency causes birth defects in humans, but an adequate biotin intake/supplementation during pregnancy is advisable.

Biotin is used clinically to treat the biotin-responsive inborn errors of metabolism, holocarboxylase synthetase deficiency and biotinidase deficiency.

Large doses of biotin may be given to babies with a condition called infantile seborrhea or to patients with genetic abnormalities in biotin metabolism. A large number of reports have shown a beneficial effect of biotin in infant seborrheic dermatitis and Leiner's disease (a generalised form of seborrheic dermatitis).

Biotin supplements are sometimes given to help reduce blood sugar in diabetes patients. People with type 2 diabetes often have low levels of biotin. Some patients with diabetes may have an abnormality in the biotin-dependent enzyme pyruvate carboxylase, which can lead to dysfunction of the nervous system.

The main benefit of biotin as a dietary supplement is in strengthening hair and nails. Biotin supplements may improve thin or splitting toenails or fingernails and improve hair health. Uncomable hair syndrome in children also improves with biotin supplementation, as do certain skin disorders, such as “cradle cap”. Biotin has also been used to combat premature graying of hair, though it is likely to be useful only for those with a low biotin status. In orthomolecular medicine biotin is used to treat hair loss, but scientific evidence is not conclusive.

Biotin has been used for people in weight loss programs to help them metabolise fat more efficiently.