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Biotin & Pantothenic Acid

It's surprising that these two B vitamins don't get more attention.  They work together at the most basic level to produce enzymes that trigger many bodily functions, and they may assist in the treatment of various diseases.

What they are?

The names of these two vitamins suggest their widespread presence in the body.  Both words have Greek roots:  pantothenic is from pantos, which means 'everywhere', and biotin is from bios, which means 'life'.  Because these vitamins are in many foods, deficiencies are virtually nonexistent.  Biotin is also produced by intestinal bacteria, provided the digestive system is healthy.  Multivitamins and B-complex vitamins usually include biotin and pantothenic acid (also called vitamin B5), and both are also available as individual supplements.  The main form of biotin is d-biotin.  Pantothenic acid comes in two forms:  pantethine and calcium pantothenate.  The latter is suitable for most purposes and is less expensive than pantethine.

What it does?

Both biotin and pantothenic acid are involved in the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and protein foods and in the production of various enzymes.  Biotin plays a special role in helping the body use glucose, its basic fuel, and it also promotes healthy nails and hair.  The body needs pantothenic acid to maintain proper communication between the brain and nervous system and to produce certain stress hormones.

Major benefits

Biotin improves weak and brittle fingernails; may slow hair loss if it is due to a biotin deficiency; and repairs dry, scaly skin.  Research suggests the overproduction of stress hormones during long periods of emotional upset, depression or anxiety increases the need for pantothenic acid, which is used to manufacture these hormones.  Because stress is a factor in quitting smoking, migraines and chronic fatigue, pantothenic acid may be useful for these conditions.  In combination with the B vitamins choline and thiamine, pantothenic acid can be effective heartburn remedy; it also helps reduce the nasal congestion of allergies.

Additional benefits

In very high doses, biotin may help people with diabetes, increasing the body's response to insulin so that blood sugar (glucose) levels stay low.  In addition, it may protect against the nerve damage that sometimes occur in diabetes (diabetic neuropathy).  Biotin also appears to slow reproduction of the fungal form of Candida albicans.

Common Uses


  • Promotes healthy nails and hair.
  • Helps the body to process carbohydrates, fats and protein.
  • May improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes.

Pantothenic Acid

  • Promotes a healthy central nervous system.
  • Helps the body to process carbohydrates, fats and protein.
  • May improve chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, heartburn and allergies


  • Capsule.
  • Tablet.
  • Soft gel.
  • Liquid.


  • Reminder:  If you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor before taking supplements.

How much you need?

There is no RDI for biotin or pantothenic acid, but experts recommend that you get 30-100 mcg of biotin enough to maintain normal body functioning, but for the treatment of specific diseases or disorders, higher doses may be needed.

If you get too little

Deficiencies of biotin or pantothenic acid are virtually unknown in adults.  Long-term use of antibiotics or anti-seizure medications, however, can lead to less than optimal levels of biotin.

If you get too much

There are no known serious adverse effects from high doses of biotin or pantothenic acid.  Some people report diarrhoea when taking doses of 10 g a day or more of pantothenic acid.

How to take it?


For hail and nails:  Take 1000-1200 mcg of biotin a day.
To aid in giving up smoking:  Take 500 mg of pantothenic acid twice a day.
During periods of stress:  Take 100 mg of pantothenic acid a day as part of a vitamin B complex.
For migraines:  Take 400 mg of pantothenic acid twice a day.
For chronic fatigue syndrome:  Take 500 mg of pantothenic acid twice a day.
For chronic heartburn:  Take 1000 mg of pantothenic acid twice a day along with 500 mg of thiamine first thing in the morning and 500 mg of choline (as lecithin) three times a day.
For allergies:  Take 500 mg of pantothenic acid three times a day.
For diabetes:  Talk with your doctor about taking high doses of biotin to help, or even prevent diabetic neuropathy.

Guidelines for use

Most people will get enough biotin and pantothenic acid from a multivitamin or a B-complex supplement.  Individual supplements are necessary only to treat a specific disorder.  In most cases, take individual supplements with meals.

Other sources

Biotin is found in liver, soy products, nuts, oatmeal, rice, barley, legumes, cauliflower and whole wheat.  Organ meats, fish, poultry, whole grains, yoghurt and legumes are the best sources of pantothenic acid.

Facts and Tips

  • If you eat a lot of processed foods, you should consider taking a supplement with pantothenic acid, because this vitamin is easily destroyed in processing.  Bread and cereal, for example, contain half the pantothenic acid, because this vitamin is easily destroyed in processing.  Bread and cereal, for example, contain half the pantothenic acid found in the original whole grains.  Even more pantothenic acid (70%) is lost when poultry or fish is frozen and thawed or when beans are canned (80%).
  • Biotin helps to keep hair healthy, but – except in rare cases of biotin deficiency – it can't prevent baldness, as some claim.  Nor can pantothenic acid forestall the normal greying of hair that occurs with age.

Latest Findings

  • Biotin can increase the thickness of nails by an average of 25%, according to a study from Switzerland.  Six months of biotin supplements improved brittle nails in two-thirds of the study's participants.
  • Recent Australian research suggests that taking 600 mcg of biotin a day increases levels of DHEA sulphate in some people who are deficient in this hormone (seeDHEA)

Did you know?

You'd have to eat 2½ cups of wheat bran to get the recommended daily amount of pantothenic acid.