Last Updated June 6th, 2021
Biotin is also called vitamin H or vitamin B7. It is a water-soluble vitamin and is not retained in the body and gets excreted off via urination. This vitamin is involved in the conversion of the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into energy. Biotin is a part of the water-soluble vitamin B family. Discover the benefits of this vitamin, its deficiency traits, dietary sources, and supplements.
How much of biotin must be consumed?
- An average adult = 30 micrograms
- Pregnant women = 30 micrograms
- Breastfeeding women = 35 micrograms
What are the health benefits of Biotin?
Just like any vitamin, biotin is vital for your body’s health as it is involved in certain core processes in the body.
Hypoglycemia is a condition of low blood glucose levels. Biotin helps in treating hypoglycemia. There is an enzyme that is involved in the synthesis of glucose from sources other than carbohydrates (for example amino acids). This enzyme functions only in the presence of biotin. This method of glucose synthesis is important in maintaining the energy balance, especially during fasting as there will not be any carbohydrate intake.
Hyperlipidemia is a condition of increased bad cholesterol levels in the blood. Biotin is involved in the metabolism of fatty acids to convert them into energy thereby, reducing the number of fatty acids. Higher the biotin level, lower the blood lipid concentration or lower in the levels of bad cholesterol. This aspect of biotin provides protection from cardiovascular diseases.
Glucose control in obese patients with diabetes
Diabetes is a condition of high blood glucose. Studies point to the fact that, if there is biotin deficiency, there is an increase in insulin resistance and a reduction in the utilization of glucose.
For growth and durability of hair, nails, and skin
Keratin is the protein present in the skin, in the hair, and nails. It provides strength and a water-proof effect. Biotin helps in processing the proteins in the foods, by breaking them down into different amino acids. These amino acids can be used for keratin production. Biotin prevents splitting and breaking of the hair strands, hair dryness and improves the elasticity of the hair. It assists in the regeneration of the hair follicles and the hair scalp. Indirectly, biotin also prevents the incidence of rashes and infections due to keratin. This vitamin is present in some shampoos and topical applications.
Biotin protects your nerves
Biotin assists certain enzymes involved in energy production. These enzymes also play a vital role in synthesizing a protective covering on the nerves and transportation of the nerve impulses or signals. If there is a deficiency of biotin, then the activity of these enzymes will get affected resulting in increasing the acidity of the blood and also ammonia production. This, in turn, decreases muscle strength and results in abnormal movements & seizures.
Because biotin aids in breaking down of macronutrients, it aids in the healthy development of the fetus.
What are the symptoms of biotin deficiency?
- Hair loss or alopecia (baldness)
- Dry eyes
- Brittle or breakable hair
- Loss of appetite
- Scaly, red rash around the eyes, nose, mouth, and genitals
- High cholesterol
- Heart problems
- Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
- Loss of control of bodily movements (ataxia)
- Reduced immune function
- The rise in the risk of bacterial and fungal infection
Who are at risk for biotin deficiency?
- People indulging in long term diet
- Deficiency of biotinidase ; biotinidase is an enzyme that is involved in recycling the biotin in the body. The body reuses the biotin for a certain number of times before excreting it off. Deficiency of this enzyme leads to no biotin recycling.
- Pregnant women have biotin deficiency on a marginal level as biotin will be used in the development of the fetus.
- Patients receiving prolonged intravenous nutrition
- Infants who consume breast milk containing low amounts of biotin
- Patients with impaired biotin absorption due to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), etc.
- People who smoke
- Those who use medications for epilepsy
- People who have liver disease
What are the food sources from which I can avail biotin?
There are varieties of food sources you can consume on a daily basis to feed your body’s requirement of biotin. Some of them are as follows:
Biotin content is influenced by food processing methods.
- Cooked egg yolk – One whole cooked egg yolk provides 10 micrograms of biotin. Cooking the egg prevents the binding of the avidin protein.
- Cooked organ meats(liver, kidney) – Example: 3 ounces of cooked beef liver provides 30 micrograms of biotin.
In the case of vegetables and yeast, Food processing techniques like cooking can render biotin ineffective. So, it is preferable to consume them in raw or less-processed versions as they contain more active biotin.
- Nuts: Like almonds, peanuts, pecans, and walnuts all of them provide 1.5 micrograms of biotin. Roasted sunflower seeds provide 2.6 micrograms.
- Yeast: Brewer’s yeast is used to make beer and bread and nutritional yeast is inactive and is used to add a cheesy or nutty flavor to foods. About 7 grams of yeast provides biotin at a range of 1.4 – 14 microgram.
- Whole grains and cereals
- Milk, cheese, and yogurt: The National Institutes of Health confirms that cheddar cheese provides 0.4 micrograms of biotin per ounce, a cup of 2 percent milk has 0.3 micrograms, and a cup of plain yogurt contains 0.2 micrograms.
- Avocado : One whole avocado contains biotin of 2 to 6 micrograms of biotin, according to some sources.
- Sweet potato: Half a cup of sweet potato provides 2.4 micrograms of biotin.
- Cauliflower: One cup of raw cauliflower provides 4 micrograms of biotin.
If you are unable to get enough supply of biotin, there are biotin supplements in the form of pills you can avail. Biotin supplements are usually present in tablet, capsule or the pill form. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that although biotin is good for the hair, skin, and nails, it can interfere with the following test results:
- Disease of the thyroid gland
- Heart disease
- Hormonal related disorders
There aren’t any adverse side effects, but minor side effects can arise. These minor side effects include:
- Cramping or pain
You can minimize the side effects by consuming the supplements along with your food. Not everyone can be adjusted to supplements, so, it is wise for you to consult your doctor before you consume any supplements. The doctor will also recommend a dosage accordingly and also educate you on the benefits and risks or side effects. There are positive and negative side effects associated with biotin supplements
Biotin supplements must not be taken in the case of
- Smoking cigarettes
- If you eat two or more raw egg whites daily
- Medications for seizures
- Have been on a long-term course of antibiotics
Biotin for you
Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin B7 and it should be supplied to the body on a daily basis. There is a whole range of foods which we can easily blend with our everyday food consumption regime. Biotin offers some of the most powerful health benefits like healthy fetus development, reduction in bad cholesterol, keratin production, etc. The use of this vitamin has carved its way into shampoos for thicker lustrous hair.
Biotin deficiencies have repercussions like dry eyes, depression, nausea etc., and can be treated with supplements. Supplements are present in pill or capsule form. Natural sources of biotin like avocados, sweet potato, cooked egg yolk, etc., is a much better choice than supplements. So make sure that you include your share of biotin on a daily basis.
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