Select Source Spotlight - Biotin and B-12

What Are B Vitamins

B vitamins are a group of water-soluble vitamins that are essential to the body.  Your body does not actually produce a significant amount of these vitamins and therefore they need to be consumed through diet.  The eight B vitamins are important to many processes in the body.  Though they function similarly and often synergistically, each vitamin has its own unique role in the body.  Biotin and Vitamin B12 are two of the best known and well-studied vitamins.   

Biotin, or vitamin B7, is famous for its beauty benefits, specifically for strengthening and promoting nail and hair growth.  Biotin can be found in chicken, beef, pork liver, and eggs. (1)   

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a critical part of energy metabolism and the go-to vitamin for boosting energy. In fact, B12 shots are frequently administered to people suffering from anemia and extreme fatigue.  This vitamin is also important for both brain and nerve health.  B12 is also very important in the production of red blood cells and DNA.   This B vitamin is commonly found in animal products such as clams, beef (especially the liver), salmon, milk and yogurt. (2) 

Why B12 is One of the Most Challenging Vitamins for Vegans and Vegetarians

Both of B12 and biotin are most concentrated and frequently found in animal derived products.  However, while some vegetarian sources are rich in biotin like peanuts, oats, mushrooms, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and cauliflower, B12 is only found in animal products.  One study found that up to 90% of strict vegetarians or vegans are deficient in vitamin B12.  Other people who are high risk for vitamin B12 deficiency include pregnant women, nursing mothers, people on special diets like macrobiotics and vegetarian children who are especially vulnerable.  (25) 

Similarly, marginal biotin deficiency is common in pregnant women in the US.  Smoking, excessive alcohol or raw egg white consumption, and some medications may also impair biotin absorption. (26) 

Historic Usage of Biotin and Vitamin B12

Another name for biotin is Vitamin H, derived from the German words “Haar und Haun” or hair and skin.  Since the 1900’s, scientists have known that vitamin H or biotin levels confer advantageous benefits for hair and skin health. (3)  While biotin is well known for its role in beauty, it is important for much more than hair and skin. 

Like most vitamins, the first step to understanding the importance of this vitamin is studying what the body does when it is deficient in the vitamin.  In 1920s, several physicians successfully used raw liver or liver juice high in B12 for treating pernicious anemia, which at the time was thought to be incurable. (4, 5)  

Health Benefits of Biotin & Vitamin B12

Biotin Health Benefits:

Biotin Strengthens Hair and Nails

Biotin’s role in creating structural proteins is to stimulate the production of the keratin infrastructure.  Keratin is a fibrous protein that strengthens hair and nails.  This structural protein gives hair a fuller, shinier and overall healthier appearance. (6)

Biotin Supports Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

Biotin is a cofactor for chemical reactions that mediate glucose metabolism.  It aids in the breakdown of glucose (lowering blood sugar levels) and modulates insulin secretion.  Research has shown that biotin supplementation can support normalizing glucose levels.  Healthy blood sugar levels may lower the risks for diabetes, heart disease and obesity. (7)


Vitamin B-12 health benefits:

B12 Provides Energy Support

Vitamin B12 deficiencies are most commonly associated with veganism.  However, even meat eaters may struggle to get adequate amounts of B12 and research suggests that approximately 40% of Americans are at risk of deficiency. (8)  B12 increases both your mental and physical energy by ensuring efficient oxygen delivery. (2)

B12 May Improve Mood and Reduce Stress

B12 contributes to the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which are involved in the regulation of emotion, mood and stress. (10) Studies have consistently shown a strong link between low levels of B12 and increased risk of depression and other mood disorders. (11, 12)  

How Biotin and Vitamin B12 Work


Biotin is critical for activating metabolism and is co-factor for a major enzyme involved in glucose management.  Since glucose is our primary source of energy and fuels both the brain and muscles, biotin can have a significant impact on overall health and whether or not we feel well.  Along with strengthening and protecting hair and nails, biotin also plays a key role in improving energy levels, immunity, and enhancing communication between cells. (13) 


Vitamin B12

B12 does its job by supporting the production of red blood cells.  Normally, red blood cells travel from bone marrow through the bloodstream carrying oxygen to all the vital organs.  Studies show that a lack of B12 causes irregularly shaped blood cells to form which impairs their oxygen carrying capacity.  The most common blood disorder in the US is megaloblastic anemia caused or aggravated by a lack of B12 and impaired DNA synthesis.  The result is that there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to various tissues and organs.  Symptoms of B12 deficiency include fatigue, weakness, strange sensations, numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs, or feet, difficulty walking (staggering, balance problems), anemia, difficulty thinking and reasoning (cognitive difficulties), or memory loss. (14, 15)
Though biotin and B12 have their own unique functions and benefits, they also work synergistically together.  Biotin and B12 in concert with one another both support mitochondria function which are the power houses of the cells.  They also play complementary roles in the citric acid cycle, contributing to the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and amino acids. (10) 

Science Proves Biotin & B12 Benefits 


Biotin is one of the most popular nutrients in beauty supplements.  Emerging studies are elucidating biotin’s role in stimulating the production of keratin and improving the quality of nails and hair. (16)  A 2016 study treated women suffering from thinning hair with 5 mg of biotin for 3 months.   38% of the subjects responded positively to biotin treatment. (17) 
Studies on supplementation using oral biotin to treat brittle nails and other nail conditions has yielded many positive results (18). One study conducted in Switzerland evaluated the effects of biotin supplementation on brittle nails. Twenty-two out of thirty-five subjects showed a 25% improvement in nail plate thickness. (19)  

Biotin plays a key role in cellular energy metabolism including ATP production and regulation of oxidative stress, since it is a crucial cofactor for five enzymes that facilitate mitochondrial metabolism of glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids. (26)  One of the most intensive needs for energy is in our brains.  Which is why it is not surprising that adequate intake of biotin is linked to healthy nerves, mental focus and mood.  Studies have found that biotin deficiency is often concomitant with symptoms of depression and fatigue. (20)

Not just a beauty nutrient and an energy boosting B vitamin, there have been over 2000 genes identified that are biotin dependent validating its importance for optimal health. (26) 

Biotin has also been used in clinical studies to support healthy blood sugar levels. Biotin has even shown to even reverse some of the negative effects of chronic low insulin levels on glucose metabolism. (21)  Another randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study on type 2 diabetics showed improved glucose control after supplementing with a combination of chromium and biotin. (22)


B12 has been shown in clinical studies to have a powerful impact on mood, used alone and in combination with certain medications.  A randomized and controlled study compared two groups in subjects with low or normal B12 levels.  Nearly all subjects supplemented with B12 reported a significant reduction in symptoms and a healthier mood. (23)

Studies on B12 for energy show that its deficiency is linked to serious fatigue and even feelings of weakness. (24)   Additionally, recent studies show that deficiency in vitamin B12 is more common than previously thought and is not limited to just those on vegan or vegetarian diets.  (25)     

Why You Should Get Your Biotinand B12 Today

Whether you are searching for ways of improving your hair, skin or nails, protecting brain health, trying to boost energy levels, or better managing metabolic function, biotin and B12 can make a meaningful difference in your immediate and long term health.  

Vegan Biotin and Vitamin B12 are:

  • Gluten-free
  • Dairy free
  • Soy-free
  • Vegan
  • Non-GMO
  • Free of all major allergens


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  7. Turgut, M., Cinar, V., Pala, R., Tuzcu, M., Orhan, C., Telceken, H., Sahin, N., Deeh, P., Komorowski, J. R., & Sahin, K. (2018). Biotin and chromium histidinate improve glucose metabolism and proteins expression levels of IRS-1, PPAR-γ, and NF-κB in exercise-trained rats. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15(1), 45.

  8. (n.d.). USDA Agricultural Research Service B12 Deficiency May By More Widespread Than Thought

  9. Calderón-Ospina, C. A., & Nava-Mesa, M. O. (2020). B Vitamins in the nervous system: Current knowledge of the biochemical modes of action and synergies of thiamine, pyridoxine, and cobalamin. CNS neuroscience & therapeutics, 26(1), 5–13.

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  11. Young, L. M., Pipingas, A., White, D. J., Gauci, S., & Scholey, A. (2019). A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of B Vitamin Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress: Effects on Healthy and 'At-Risk' Individuals. Nutrients, 11(9), 2232.

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  14. FastStats - Anemia. (2020, February 21).

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  16. Trüeb R. M. (2016). Serum Biotin Levels in Women Complaining of Hair Loss. International journal of trichology, 8(2), 73–77.

  17. Lipner, S. R., & Scher, R. K. (2018). Biotin for the treatment of nail disease: what is the evidence?. J of dermatological treatment, 29(4), 411–414.

  18. Hochman, L. G., Scher, R. K., & Meyerson, M. S. (1993). Brittle nails: response to daily biotin supplementation. Cutis, 51(4), 303–305.

  19. Tardy, A. L., Pouteau, E., Marquez, D., Yilmaz, C., & Scholey, A. (2020). Vitamins and Minerals for Energy, Fatigue and Cognition: A Narrative Review of the Biochemical and Clinical Evidence. Nutrients, 12(1), 228.

  20. Coggeshall, J. C., Heggers, J. P., Robson, M. C., & Baker, H. (1985). Biotin Status and Plasma Glucose in Diabetics. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 447(1 Biotin), 389-392.

  21. Albarracin, C., Fuqua, B., Geohas, J., Juturu, V., Finch, M. R., & Komorowski, J. R. (2007). Combination of chromium and biotin improves coronary risk factors in hypercholesterolemic type 2 diabetes mellitus: a placebo-controlled, double-blind randomized clinical trial. Journal of the cardiometabolic syndrome, 2(2), 91–97.

  22. Syed, E. U., Wasay, M., & Awan, S. (2013). Vitamin B12 supplementation in treating major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial. The open neurology journal, 7, 44–48.

  23. Almeida, O. P., Ford, A. H., & Flicker, L. (2015). Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials of folate and vitamin B12 for depression. International psychogeriatrics, 27(5), 727–737.

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