Vegan biotin sources? Doesn’t biotin only came from animal products?
Are supplements required for healthy hair?
If these are questions you have been asking, don’t miss this post! It’s even written by a vegan identifying Dietitian (so you know it’ll be a good read 😉 )
Disclaimer: This article is not providing personal medical or dietary advice. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your health, dietary changes, and before adding a supplement. See our Disclaimers for more details.
This post was originally published on 7/10/22. The updated date is listed above.
Here’s a quick video of me showing examples of vegan biotin sources!
Why The Buzz About Biotin?
Biotin (otherwise known as vitamin B7) plays a huge role in metabolism! It helps break down of the fats, proteins, and carbohydrates we consume.
Why is buzz around biotin associated with nail and hair growth?
Well, as I already mentioned, biotin plays a role in breaking down protein (a building block of all cells). But did you know biotin is associated with keratin production(1)?
Yep! Who else has heard about keratin when it comes to healthy hair? Biotin helps make this protein found in hair, skin and nails.
Healthy, non lactating adults (19 years and older) need about 30 micrograms (mcg) of biotin per day per the Adequate Intake (AI) dietary reference(2).
So don’t skimp on this vitamin. But don’t go overboard either (I’ll go over this in more depth later, so stay with me)!
But what about those on a vegan diet (one that avoids all animal products)? Should they be concerned? Lets talk about that next…
Are Vegans More Likely To Have a Biotin Deficiency?
First of all, a deficiency in biotin is likely to be rare in a normal, balanced diet(3).
I could not find any current research suggesting that vegans have a greater risk of biotin deficiency compared to other diets. Still, I was also hard pressed to much find research on this topic in the first place!
Here is a bit about what I found…
One study compared biotin status in vegans to lacto ovo vegetarians (those who include dairy and eggs but no meat) and mixed diets. The results suggested that vegans did not have impaired biotin status comparatively (4).
However (and a big however), the study categorized the vegan diet group as consuming no meat, and dairy products less than once per month. This begs questions like: did these “vegans” eat eggs? FYI: eggs are not a vegan friendly food!
Furthermore, the lacto ovo vegetarian group had the features of consuming dairy products at a minimum of twice per week, and meat less than once per month.
Also, this study included urinary excretion of biotin (total avidin binding substances) to measure biotin status. This measure may not be the most reliable indicator of biotin status according to some more recent research(5).
In a 2022 study on German participants, the biotin intake of those following a vegan eating pattern was similar to those on a vegetarian, flexitarian, or omnivorous eating pattern(6).
Bottom line: Despite biotin deficiency being rare, we need more research on vegans and biotin status. And we should all take care to learn about good sources of biotin.
Luckily for ethical vegans like, me, biotin is not exclusive to animal products!
What are biotin strong vegan foods? I’m so glad you asked! Lets discuss some next!
Biotin Sources: Vegan Friendly List
A Few Notes About this List: The following is not a list of all vegan sources of biotin.
The biotin contents listed below were based on this study: “Determination of the biotin content of select foods using accurate and sensitive HPLC/avidin binding” (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1450323/) unless otherwise noted and hyperlinked to a different source.
Now that we got that out of the way, it’s time to get into the the (vegan veggie) meat of the article (see what I did there? 😉 )!
Here is a list with examples of vegan biotin sources:
- Nutritional yeast
- Sunflower seeds (various other seeds are good sources too)
- Nuts (such as Almonds)
- Sweet potatoes
Just to clarify, we are not talking about bakers yeast! (the kind you use to make bread).
Informally known as “nooch” nutritional yeast can contains the most biotin from this list!
I use their nutritional yeast on vegan foods, like popcorn, and tofu. In my opinion, it adds a slightly “cheesey” flavor, which is something I miss as a vegan!
One study on biotin content in foods from Japan suggests that whole soy beans may contain around 19.3 mcg per 100 grams(7)! That’s over half the biotin AI for non lactating adults making it a plant based protein star and biotin rich source.
The humble nut (botanically- a legume) may contain almost 4.91 mcg of biotin per 30 g (gram) serving of roasted and salted peanuts.
That’s a whopping nearly 17% the biotin AI (Adequate Intake dietary reference) for non lactating adults, making peanuts a stand out star amongst several other whole vegan foods.
One 13 gram serving (about 2 tablespoons) of ground flaxseeds contains around 4.4 mcg of biotin(9) (about 15% the AI for non breastfeeding adults).
Flaxseeds are also a good source of the essential omega-3 fatty acid ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), and they blend nicely in a fruit smoothies!
Sunflower Seeds (and other seeds)
Other seeds also provide a decent amount of biotin! For example, a 31 gram serving (a bit over an ounce) of salted roasted sunflower seeds contains around 2.4 mcg of biotin.
Sure, most of us are probably aware they have vitamin C, but did you know strawberries also contain biotin? 111 grams of strawberries provides about 1.67 mcg of biotin.
Not that you needed another excuse for eating strawberries, eh?
Nuts (Such as Almonds)
Trail mix anyone? Your snack could pack a decent dose of biotin in addition to the important fatty acids they contain!
Roasted and salted almonds contain a bit under that at approximately 1.32 mcg biotin per 30 gram serving.
Mushrooms are actually packed with variety of certain B vitamins, including: (drum roll please) biotin!
Canned mushrooms clock in around 1.3 mcg of biotin per 60 grams. Not bad for a ‘fun-guy'(get it? 😉 )!
Do you say po-ta-toe or po-tot-o? Either way, a mere 80 gram serving of cooked sweet potato contains about 1.16 mcg of biotin.
Sweet potatoes are also unique in that they are a good source of provitaimin A-otherwise known as a precursor to vitamin A (a nutrient vegans should be mindful of including in their eating pattern. Learn more in our article here!
This cruciferous vegetable also contains a decent amount of biotin! A 113 gram serving of fresh broccoli contains about 1.07 mcg of biotin.
Do Vegans Need To Supplement Biotin?
Whether or not you need a supplement is a conversation to have with your doctor!
If you read our list of biotin rich food for vegans, you probably guessed that it is possible to meet the AI for biotin (even if you’re vegan 😉 ).
As suggested by the NIH factsheet on biotin, we have little evidence to suggest that biotin supplements will improve hair, skin or nails health. Furthermore, too much biotin may interfere with certain lab test results.
If you are experiencing hair loss, or other symptoms associated with biotin deficiency, reach out to your doctor. There could be many causes for your symptoms.
Also, if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, drink lots of alcohol or have a rare biotinidase deficiency, you may be at a greater risk for biotin inadequacy (2). Talk to your doctor about supplementation.
Summing It Up: Vegan Biotin Sources
There are many vegan friendly foods that provide biotin.
Biotin content will vary. Some higher biotin sources vegans may appreciate include soybeans, nuts, seeds, and nutritional yeast.
While it is possible to meet the AI (Adequate Intake dietary reference) from food, talk to your doctor if you have any concerns or are at risk for biotin inadequacy.
If you are prescribed a biotin supplement, remember that biotin might interfere with certain lab test results. Ask your health care provider about what you should do prior to lab draws.
Did you learn something new about food sources biotin can be found in? Are there any other questions you still have? Let us know in the comments below!
And while you’re here, why not explore the blog?
You’ll learn more about vegan friendly ways to get nutrients like:
Vegan Iodine Sources
Vitamin B12 Foods for Vegans
Vegan for Beginners Guide
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