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Soft gels not soft enough for you? You might be curious about gummy supplements, which have become increasingly popular in recent years.
Gummies can now deliver a variety of nutrients and supplemental substances—you’ve likely seen online ads for vitamin C, vitamin B12, melatonin, and more.
Biotin is another vitamin that’s available as gummies, making a vitamin that’s already popular on social media even more so. But before you invest in biotin gummies, you should know what biotin is, what it can and can’t do, and how to take it safely.
What are biotin gummies?
Biotin gummies are supplements that come in gummy form instead of a pill or capsule. Yep, supplement manufacturers are counting on our fond childhood memories of Swedish Fish and Sour Patch Kids to help move meds.
Biotin gummies may contain just biotin, or they might include biotin as part of a formulation with other ingredients, such as collagen, keratin, or vitamin D.
How to choose biotin gummies
Some people might find the flavored, candy-like pieces a more pleasant way to take their supplements. Gummies might also be appealing if you don’t like pills or have trouble swallowing them.
But keep in mind that they might very well contain sugar, carbohydrates, and calories. This can be an issue if you need to limit your sugar intake or if weight loss is a priority. Check the Nutrition Facts label on the bottle to see if that’s the case.
It’s a good idea to scan the ingredients before you buy. If you have dietary limitations, you may want to ensure the supplement you choose doesn’t contain ingredients like corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, or artificial flavors.
If you’re vegan, you may want to make sure the gummies aren’t made of gelatin. You may also want to check if your potential biotin supplement is non-GMO or gluten-free.
What is biotin?
Biotin—also known as vitamin B7 or vitamin H—is a water-soluble vitamin that has a number of roles in the human body. It helps convert food to energy, metabolize fats and amino acids, and plays a part in the development of hair, skin, and nails.
Biotin is naturally present in some foods—such as egg yolks, fish, seeds, and nuts. The average person gets enough biotin from their normal diet (NIH, n.d.).
What is biotin used for?
Biotin supplements, including gummies, are highly touted as a way to improve the health of your hair, skin, and fingernails. Some of the claims include that taking biotin can increase hair growth, lead to thicker hair or healthier hair, or strengthen nails.
But conclusive scientific evidence to that effect is lacking. “While signs of biotin deficiency include hair loss, skin rashes, and brittle nails, the efficacy of biotin in supplements for hair, skin, and nails as a means to remedy these conditions is not supported in large-scale studies,” wrote the authors of a 2019 meta-analysis of studies (Almohanna, 2019).
True biotin deficiency is very rare in people who eat a normal diet (Bistas, 2020).
Should I take biotin gummies?
That depends on what your concern is.
If you’re worried about the state of your hair, skin, or fingernails, it’s always a good idea to talk with a healthcare professional before trying to address the condition with a dietary supplement.
If you’re concerned about hair loss, you should know that biotin has not been proven to be an effective remedy for male pattern baldness.
“Although there exists an incredible amount of social media hype and market advertising touting its efficacy for the improvement of hair quantity and quality, biotin’s efficacy for hair remains largely unsubstantiated in scientific literature,” wrote researchers in a study (Soleymani, 2017).
In men, thinning hair is most often male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia), which is caused by hair follicles’ sensitivity to a byproduct of testosterone. Vitamins and minerals can’t turn that around, although there are many effective oral and topical medications for the condition.
That said, many people take supplements because they figure they can’t hurt. Do biotin gummies fall in the “can’t hurt” category? There is one serious potential complication to be aware of when taking biotin, which we’ll look at below.
But for most people, taking biotin won’t hurt you. Experts say it’s very difficult to take biotin in amounts that will cause injury or overdose. And, like other water-soluble vitamins, your body will excrete the excess it doesn’t use in your urine (Bistas, 2020).
Just don’t take that as a license to pop biotin gummies like candy. They’re not candy.
Typical biotin dosage
There isn’t a typical dosage of biotin gummies, but you can find them in dosages up to 5,000 mcg, 10,000 mcg, and beyond.
There are two things to be aware of when it comes to biotin dosage: What experts consider the adequate daily intake (AI) of biotin, and potential danger with taking the megadoses you can easily find in “extra strength” or “high potency” biotin gummies on Amazon.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not established a recommended daily allowance for biotin. In such cases, the Food and Nutrition Board at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine estimates a daily adequate intake.
For biotin, the AI is 30 mcg for adults over the age of 19. It’s recommended that patients who are breastfeeding or pregnant take from 5 mcg to 35 mcg a day (Bistas, 2020).
But biotin supplementation is generally unnecessary in healthy people (NIH, n.d.).
Biotin side effects
About that warning we mentioned above: Some biotin formulations contain hundreds of times the amount of biotin that’s considered a daily AI—5,000 mcg, 10,000mcg, and beyond (remember that the daily adequate intake is 30 mcg).
Be aware that if you take a multivitamin, it may contain biotin and add to your total daily intake.
Very high levels of biotin can alter the results of blood tests, including those involving hormones and the heart. In 2017, the FDA warned that taking high levels of biotin can lead to falsely high or low results on a variety of blood tests.
This effect on blood tests has led to at least one reported death: A patient who was taking high doses of biotin had a heart attack, but his doctors were unable to detect the heart attack with blood testing.
The FDA later elaborated: biotin can lead to inaccurate levels of the blood chemical troponin, an important biomarker used to diagnose heart problems.
Today, the FDA recommends that you talk with your healthcare provider before taking a supplement that contains biotin, especially if you have a heart- or hormone-related lab tests done (FDA, 2019).
- Almohanna, H. M., Ahmed, A. A., Tsatalis, J. P., & Tosti, A. (2019). The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. Dermatology and Therapy, 9(1), 51–70. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6
- Bistas, K.G., Tadi, P. Biotin. [Updated 2020 Jul 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554493/
- National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements – Biotin. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10, 2021, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/biotin-healthprofessional/
- Soleymani, T., Lo Sicco, K., & Shapiro, J. (2017). The Infatuation With Biotin Supplementation: Is There Truth Behind Its Rising Popularity? A Comparative Analysis of Clinical Efficacy versus Social Popularity. Journal of drugs in dermatology : JDD, 16(5), 496–500. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28628687/
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Center for Devices and Radiological Health. (2019). Update: The FDA warns that biotin may interfere with lab tests. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/safety-communications/update-fda-warns-biotin-may-interfere-lab-tests-fda-safety-communication
Dr. Steve Silvestro is a board-certified pediatrician and Senior Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.