July 11, 2019

What is Biotin?

Biotin is one of the B vitamins, known as vitamin B7 and also called vitamin H. It is a water-soluble vitamin that our body needs for it mainly assists with cell growth and in the breakdown of food and transforming it into the energy we need. It is also involved in the production of DNA and RNA that helps in the development and proper function of our body systems.  

Many people consider biotin the "beauty vitamin' since it promotes healthy hair, nails and skin. Studies show that supplementation of biotin has been effective in strengthening hair and treating brittle nails. A lot of people also take biotin dietary supplements to increase their hair growth rate and treat hair loss. It has been proven that it can improve keratin which is the basic fibrous protein that is a key material making up your hair, nails and the outer layer of your skin. 

Read and discover the health benefits that you can get from Vitamin B7 or biotin. Know the reasons why it is essential for optimal health and wellness. 

 

Origin and History

Biotin was first discovered as a nutritive requirement of yeast and was isolated in pure form in 1935, while its structure was first established in 1942 after it had been determined that animals also need the water-soluble vitamin. 

In 1927, biochemist Margaret Averil Boas found out that rats who were fed with raw egg whites have developed skin rashes, lost their fur and become paralyzed. Boas called the syndrome "egg white injury" and found a substance in the liver that can cure the egg-white injury, she called the substance "protective factor x".

Biotin was then officially discovered by American biochemist Vincent du Vigneaud and his colleagues in 1942. They have noticed that when farm animals were fed with raw eggs, they have developed biotin deficiency. He realized that biotin was identical to vitamin H and to protective factor x. 

 

Fast Facts about Biotin

- Egg whites contain avidin, a biotin-binding protein that unless destroyed by heat, keeps biotin from being absorbed by the body. 
- It was also called vitamin H because of the German words haar and haut that means hair and skin, respectively. 
- Helps with the transfer of carbon dioxide in the body that makes it essential for metabolism. 
- Essential for keratin production which is a protein found in our skin, hair and nails. 
- Lack of biotin can lead to dermatitis or dry skin as well as making your hair and nails brittle. 
- Biotin was first used in strengthening horses' hooves. 

 

Biotin Deficiency

Studies show that biotin deficiency is a rare metabolic genetic disorder because vitamin B7 is widely distributed in foods. Also, it is possible to be biotin deficient through overconsumption of egg whites for a long period since the protein in the egg whites actually inhibits biotin absorption. Here are the following signs and symptoms of biotin deficiency:

- Nausea and loss of appetite
- Abnormal heart actions
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Muscle Pain 
- Hair Loss
- Dermatitis
- Depression
- Pale Skin

 

Health Benefits 

1. Skin Health. Biotin deficiency can affect the skin's outer appearance and inner health. Today, skin products contain biotin to help promote skin moisturization that prevents dry skin and irritation. This vitamin is essential for the prevention and treatment of serious skin conditions and will give you that healthy youthful glow. 

2. Hair and Nail Health. Deficiency in biotin may lead to brittle or thin nails, hair loss and grey hair in some instances. If you have a good amount of vitamin B7 in your body, it can help you have stronger hair and nails. Studies prove that biotin supplementation is effective in treating various hair and nail problems. 

3. Improves Energy and Mood. Biotin helps boost energy and mood where it metabolizes carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Vitamin B7 and other B vitamins play a significant role in converting nutrients into the energy that our body needs. Deficiency in biotin can lead to mood swings and feelings of tiredness. 

4. Thyroid and Adrenal Function. A balanced supply of biotin, together with other B vitamins can give support on the proper functioning of your thyroid and adrenal glands which are both responsible for pain perception, hunger, sleep and mood. Deficiency can cause weight gain, fatigue and trouble sleeping. 

5. Nervous System. Research shows that biotin helps in the proper functioning of your nervous system and may be helpful in treating peripheral nerve damage or diabetic nerve pain caused by diabetic neuropathy. Also, deficiency can lead to nervous system disorders like multiple sclerosis and can affect your memory.  

6. Immunity Boost. Biotin can impact one's immune system for it is essential in the development of white blood cells which are the defence mechanisms of the immune system that protect you against bacteria and viruses. Inadequate level of biotin is linked to impaired immune function and high chances of infection. 

7. Cognitive Health.Brain neurons need biotin to function properly. It improves your brain health and prevents early signs of dementia or memory loss. It promotes cognitive health by having better concentration, focus and form a defence against brain diseases and neurodegenerative disorders. 

8. Muscle Pain Relief. Vitamin B7 plays a major role in muscle health where it helps repair damaged tissues and muscle recovery from strength training exercises. It also helps reduce muscle aches, joint inflammation as well as stiffness after a heavy workout and rebuilds stronger muscle fibres. 

9. Healthy Metabolism. Biotin changes proteins, carbohydrates and fats into energy, therefore promoting metabolism and normal body weight. Studies show that it helps treat and normalize fat metabolism in weight-loss programs. Also, deficiency of the vitamin can cause weight gain and lack of energy. 

10. Heart Health. It helps regulate glucose level and can be helpful for people with type 2 diabetes for it enhances insulin sensitivity. It also reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol levels that can help promote heart health and reduces your risk of having cardiovascular diseases and stroke attack. 

 

Dietary Sources

There is an extensive list of biotin-rich foods that are commonly available in the market. However, food-processing techniques can destroy biotin such as canning, therefore less processed foods and products will have a greater percentage of their biotin intact. Here are some foods that are rich in vitamin B7 and can boost your optimal health: 

- Meat and Offal (pork chop, beef steak, chicken breast, roasted lamb, kidney and liver meat)
- Vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, sweet potato)
- Fruits (bananas, avocados, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, grapefruit)
- Nuts and Seeds (almonds, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds)
- Grains (oats, soybeans, bran, brown rice, wheat germ)
- Fish (salmon, sardines, haddock, tuna)
- Other (egg yolks, brewer's yeast, mushrooms, milk, cheese)

 

Biotin Supplements

Biotin is available in vitamin B complexes, in multivitamins and in individual supplements. It comes in the form of capsules, tablets, gummies, liquids etc. Biotin supplements are often used to promote skin, hair and nail health. However, there is little evidence to show that they are effective.  

The daily biotin requirements are relatively small, which is around 30 mcg per day. Also, bacteria in the intestine make biotin, so vitamin B7 deficiency is quite rare. All of us have varying nutritional needs, so it is very important to speak with your healthcare provider about your daily requirement of biotin. 

 

Dosage and Duration 

Dietary supplements should be taken with care because of the potential side effects and interactions it might cause. Always remember that you need to consult first your healthcare provider to know the right dosage and duration for the supplements you are planning to take. Here are the following recommended dietary intakes for biotin which are based on gender and age:

Age

Male

Female

Pregnancy

Lactation

0 to 6 months

5 mcg

5 mcg

 

 

7 to 12 months

6 mcg

6 mcg

 

 

1 to 3 years

8 mcg

8 mcg

 

 

4 to 8 years

12 mcg

12 mcg

 

 

9 to 13 years

20 mcg

20 mcg

 

 

14 to 18 years

25 mcg

25 mcg

30 mcg

35 mcg

19+ years

30 mcg

30 mcg

30 mcg

35 mcg

Important Note: Biotin supplementation is safe, however, because of the adverse effects and interactions with other medications, it is necessary to consult your healthcare practitioner prior to taking supplements. Also, recommended doses of biotin supplements do vary depending on the health condition being treated. 

 

Precautions and Side Effects

Children and Pregnant Women. Keep out of reach of children. If not properly administered, it can lead to adverse side effects. Make sure to consult first your healthcare provider before taking any kinds of medications and supplements in order to prevent any overdose and adverse effects. 

Antibiotics. It has been reported that antibiotics can decrease gut production and synthesis of biotin and therefore availability of biotin by destroying gut bacteria. Also, the long-term use of antibiotics destroys the bacteria in the gut that produce biotin. Some common antibiotics include amoxicillin, doxycycline and cephalexin.

Anticonvulsant Drugs. Taking anti-seizure or anticonvulsant medications for a long time can lower biotin levels in the body. These kinds of drugs can also decrease the biotin absorption from foods. Antiseizure medications include carbamazepine, phenytoin and primidone. 

Glucose-lowering Drugs. Biotin is known to affect glucose regulation. Drug interactions may exist with insulin or glucose-lowering drugs. Some examples of glucose-lowering drugs or diabetes medications include metformin, amylinomimetic drug, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, biguanides, meglitinides etc. 

Overdose.Studies show that biotin overdose is rare since it is easily excreted in the urine.Some of the possible side effects of biotin overdose may include skin rashes, high blood sugar levels, stomach upset and kidney problems. We suggest consulting your healthcare practitioner to give you the right dosage.

References:

MedicalNewsToday
Medical Discoveries
Verywellhealth
Livestrong.com
Chatelaine
StyleCraze
Healthline
Dr. Axe 

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