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How long should I take biotin?

Biotin, also known as vitamin B7 or vitamin H, is a water-soluble B vitamin that helps the body convert food into energy. It is an essential nutrient that plays a key role in many bodily functions, including metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids. Biotin supplements have become increasingly popular in recent years, often taken to promote hair, skin, and nail health. But how long should you actually take biotin for best results?

What is Biotin?

Biotin is a B complex vitamin that is also known as vitamin B7 or vitamin H. It is water-soluble, meaning any excess biotin that your body doesn’t need will get flushed out through urine.

Some key facts about biotin:

  • Plays a key role in metabolizing fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids
  • Helps produce fatty acids and glucose, which are essential for energy production
  • Required for the synthesis ofimportant metabolites like purines, pyrimidines, and amino acids
  • Involved in key processes like gluconeogenesis, the citric acid cycle, and fatty acid synthesis
  • Helps maintain proper function of the nervous system and normal psychological function
  • Supports healthy skin, hair, eyes, liver, and reproductive health

The recommended daily intake for biotin is:

  • 30 mcg per day for adults
  • 35 mcg during pregnancy
  • 35 mcg when breastfeeding

Deficiency is rare, as biotin is found in a wide variety of foods. Symptoms of biotin deficiency can include hair loss, brittle nails, dry skin, fatigue, and depression.

Biotin in Foods vs Supplements

Biotin is found naturally in many foods, particularly:

  • Organ meats like liver and kidney
  • Eggs
  • Fish like salmon and tuna
  • Meat
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Bananas
  • Cauliflower

Most people can get adequate biotin through their diet alone. However, supplements are popular because they provide biotin in concentrated doses.

Biotin supplements are available in capsules, tablets and softgels ranging from 10 mcg to 10,000 mcg per serving. High dose options like 5,000 mcg or 10,000 mcg supplements are marketed for hair, skin and nails in particular.

It’s important not to take biotin supplements in doses above the recommended daily intake unless specifically advised to by a doctor. Consuming high levels of biotin through supplements can have side effects like digestive issues, while very high doses above 10,000 mcg per day could have unknown risks.

How Long Does it Take to See Results From Biotin?

When taking biotin supplements, most people want to know how long it will take to experience noticeable results in areas like hair growth and skin health.

Unfortunately there’s no definitive answer, as results can vary quite a bit by individual. However, here’s the general timeline:

Hair Growth

For optimal hair growth, plan to take biotin consistently for at least 3-6 months.

Many users report faster hair growth and reduced hair shedding/loss after about 3 months. However it can take over 6 months of daily biotin for more significant improvements in hair fullness for some.

Patience is key, as hair growth is a slow process. Expect to wait at least a few months before you can really assess whether the biotin is working for you.

Nail Strength

You may start to see improvements in your nail strength within about 2-4 months of daily biotin use.

Many users report that their nails seem stronger and less prone to cracking and peeling after taking biotin supplements for 2 months or longer.

Again, be patient and consistent for best results. Nails take time to show changes.

Skin Health

Biotin is involved in making lipids that help keep the skin moisturized and flexible. When taking biotin for skin, allow 2-5 months for optimal results.

Some report smoother, softer and more hydrated skin after 8-12 weeks of use. But skin cell turnover takes around 5 weeks, so you may need 3 months or more to see significant differences. Drink plenty of water too.

Timeframe Hair Growth Nail Strength Skin Health
First Month No noticeable difference No noticeable difference No noticeable difference
2-3 Months Possible reduced shedding Possible start of improvement Possible minor improvement
3-6+ Months Faster growth, fuller hair Stronger nails Smoother, softer skin

How Long to Take Biotin For Best Results

To get the full benefits of biotin for your hair, skin or nails, consistency is key.

Plan to take a biotin supplement daily for a minimum of 3-6 months. It can take that long to restore biotin levels in the body and see measurable changes.

Many people notice such excellent results that they decide to continue taking biotin longer term or indefinitely to maintain the effects. There are no set time limitations.

As long as your doctor approves, it’s generally considered safe to take biotin supplements long term. Just avoid mega-dosing above the recommended upper limits.

It’s also a good idea to take breaks periodically, like cycling off biotin supplements for 1 week every 2-3 months. This prevents your body from becoming too accustomed or dependent.

Also remember that biotin works best when part of a holistic approach – make sure to maintain a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle alongside it.

When is it Safe to Stop Taking Biotin?

Biotin is water soluble, so any excess is excreted in urine rather than stored in the body. This means it’s quite safe to stop taking biotin supplements whenever you choose.

There is no risk of biotin deficiency after stopping supplements, provided you have a diet with adequate biotin foods.

That said, there are a few things to keep in mind when discontinuing a biotin supplement:

  • Hair, skin and nails may revert – Without ongoing daily biotin intake at supplement levels, the benefits to hair, skin and nails may start fading over time. Expect to see some reversion back to your baseline over a period of months.
  • No abrupt changes – There won’t be any immediate, major impacts from quitting biotin supplements. Changes happen gradually as the excess biotin is cleared from your system.
  • Schedule a break – Rather than quitting biotin supplements altogether, most people choose to cycle on and off. Having a break of 1 week off every 2-3 months lets the body reset.

Overall biotin is very flexible and you can tailor your usage and break periods to suit your individual needs. Just give your doctor a quick check-in whenever you decide to make major changes to your supplements routine.

Are There Side Effects From Stopping Biotin?

There are no direct side effects or adverse reactions that result from stopping biotin supplements. This is because biotin is water-soluble and does not accumulate in the body.

However, there are a few indirect impacts that some people may experience when they decide to quit taking biotin:

  • Hair loss returns – Those taking biotin for hair growth or loss prevention may notice shedding increases again several weeks/months after quitting.
  • Brittle nails – Your nails may become more prone to cracking and peeling again without the nail-strengthening effects of biotin.
  • Skin changes – Some may find their skin becomes drier, loses that “glow” and starts showing signs of aging faster once stopping biotin.
  • Energy decreases – Since biotin is important for turning food to energy, fatigue/lethargy can return if you stop taking supplements.

However, these changes happen slowly over time, not immediately. It takes weeks or months for the effects of biotin supplements to fully wear off after stopping.

Can You Become Addicted or Dependent on Biotin?

It’s not possible to become addicted or dependent on biotin supplements. This is because biotin is water soluble and does not accumulate in the body or brain.

There are several reasons biotin supplements do not carry any addiction or dependence risk:

  • It does not alter brain chemistry or cause psychoactive effects like addictive substances.
  • Your body automatically regulates excess biotin by excreting what it doesn’t require.
  • No withdrawal effects if you stop suddenly.
  • You won’t experience any cravings for biotin like other addictive substances.

Of course, some people choose to take biotin supplements long-term because they enjoy the positive effects on their hair, skin and nails. But the body does not develop any chemical or psychological dependence.

Are there Any Drug Interactions with Biotin?

There are no known direct drug interactions with biotin supplements. Since biotin is water soluble and clears the body rapidly when you stop taking it, it tends not to interfere with other medications.

However, the following considerations apply:

  • Very high doses of biotin exceeding 10,000 mcg may impact lab test results, including tests measuring thyroid hormone levels, cardiac troponin, and reproductive hormones. Let your doctor know about any supplements prior to lab testing.
  • Biotin may enhance the effects of anticonvulsant medications used for treating epilepsy, causing potential over-sedation. Consult your neurologist before taking.
  • Supplemental biotin may decrease the effectiveness of oral antibiotics – preferably take at least 2 hours apart.
  • Check for interactions with any other supplements or medications using reputable drug interaction checkers. Discuss any concerns with your pharmacist.

Overall biotin is well tolerated, but always exercise safety and tell your doctor about any vitamins or supplements you are taking. Seek urgent help if you experience any concerning or severe side effects.

The Takeaway

Biotin is an essential B vitamin that provides energy to the body and keeps your hair, skin and nails healthy. While biotin deficiency is uncommon, supplements are popular for improving hair growth and skin function in particular.

It can take 3 months or longer to see significant results when taking biotin supplements. For best effects, plan to take biotin consistently for a minimum of 3-6 months. Some people take biotin supplements long term to maintain the benefits.

Biotin is water soluble and does not build up in the body, so you can stop taking it any time. While the positive effects will gradually fade over time after quitting, there are no adverse side effects. It’s also impossible to become addicted or dependent on biotin.

Overall biotin is considered very safe, though there are some interactions to be aware of. As with any supplement, always follow usage instructions carefully and check with your doctor before making major changes to your regimen.