Whether you’re following a vegan diet for health or ethical reasons, one of the challenges of a vegan diet is getting enough of the daily requirements of the B vitamins. It’s important to know what are the best vegan sources of biotin (Vitamin B7) and the other B vitamins.
What is Biotin?
Biotin (Vitamin B7 in the United States) is an important water-soluble micronutrient for healthy hair, bone, and nails. Biotin is also important for fatty acid metabolism, the breakdown of certain amino acids as well as the production of glucose (gluconeogenesis) in the body.
Biotin is crucial in several chemical reactions in the body and is required for carbohydrate metabolism. Biotin supplementation may help with blood sugar control in diabetics. 1
Biotin is classified as a vitamin because the body is not capable of making it and needs to get this important chemical from food sources.
Biotin is also important during pregnancy for a healthy growing fetus. 2 But despite biotin’s importance for fetal development, there is no standard daily requirement and biotin (vitamin B7) is not included in most prenatal vitamins.3
Facts about Biotin
- Biotin was originally classified as Vitamin H by the Hungarian researcher Paul Gyorgy.
- Biotin is referred to as Vitamin B7 in the US while some European countries use Vitamin B8 because inositol is referred to as Vitamin B7.
Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency
Symptoms of biotin deficiency can include:
- Brittle hair and nails
- Skin rashes
- Problems with glucose metabolism
- Redistribution of fat on the face
- Seizures (in rare cases)
How much biotin do you need?
There’s no consensus on the daily minimal amount of biotin needed, but the US and European guidelines have set a minimum daily requirement of 30 micrograms. However, that is only the minimal amount needed and there isn’t a guideline on the daily dose of biotin needed for optimal health, but it may be higher than 30 micrograms a day.
Pregnant women may need a higher level of biotin for the developing fetus. Diabetics may also require a higher daily intake of biotin to help stabilize their glucose metabolism. 4
What foods are high in biotin?
The foods highest in biotin (Vitamin B7) tend to be from animal sources and include 5
- Beef Liver
- Chicken Liver
- Egg yolks
- Fatty fish such as salmon
Obviously none of those foods would be appropriate on a vegan diet, so lets look at what vegan foods have a high amount of biotin
Best Vegan Sources of Biotin
The best vegan sources of biotin (Vitamin B7) include:
Avocados are usually a main part of any well-formulated vegan diet. One 100 gram serving of avocado can have up to 10 micrograms of biotin (almost a third of the daily recommended amount of biotin.)
Peanuts and other legumes like beans and peas also have a fair amount of biotin and can be a good source on a vegan diet.
Sweet potatoes are another vegan food that is also high in biotin. One cup of sweet potatoes contains about 5 micrograms of biotin or about 16% of the daily recommended amount of biotin
Bananas are one of the few fruits that has a measurable level of biotin, however its a low level of biotin, measuring in at about 0.2 micrograms per 1/2 cup of bananas.
Nuts and Nut Butters
Nuts like almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios and their nut butters all are high in biotin and can be part of a healthy vegan diet.
Seeds (Sesame and Sunflower seeds)
Sesame and sunflower seeds are contain biotin and a handful of sunflower or sesame seeds can give you about 10% of the minimal daily requirement of biotin.
Tempeh is fermented soybeans and has a firm texture and nutty taste. One serving of tempeh (75 grams) packs over 100% of the recommended daily intake for biotin with almost 40 micrograms of biotin. 6
Other Vegan Sources of Biotin
Biotin is also found in other vegetables in small amounts including:
- Cauliflower and Broccoli
Biotin and Laboratoy Tests
If you are taking a biotin supplement, be aware that the excess biotin may affect certain laboratory tests like thyroid panels. 7 If you are taking a biotin supplement, be sure not to take it the day of a blood draw and also let your doctor know as well.
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