Biotin, or Vitamin B7, is a water-soluble vitamin that is a part of the vitamin B complex, a group of vital nutrients needed for healthy metabolic, nerve, digestive and cardiovascular functionality.
It is particularly important during pregnancy and breastfeeding. At the same time, biotin is important for the health of your hair, skin and nails.
This article details what you need to know about biotin, introducing its main health benefits.
Just What Is Biotin?
Biotin is one of the B-vitamins, well known as vitamin B7, it is water-soluble, which means the body doesn't store it. It features many significant functions in the body.
The commonly recommended intake is 6-8 mcg (micrograms) per day in infants and 30 mcg in adults. This goes up to 30-35 mg (milligrams) per day in breastfeeding women.
Biotin deficit is rather uncommon. However, certain people such as pregnant women - may experience it in mild forms.
Consuming raw eggs may possibly cause a deficiency of it because egg whites contain a protein known as avidin which binds to biotin preventing its absorption. Avidin is inactivated through cooking.
Biotin offers a wide range of benefits
Biotin is very important for energy production and several enzymes need it to function properly. These enzymes are involved in carb, fat and protein metabolism. They trigger the most important steps in the metabolic process of these nutrients.
Biotin plays important roles in:
- Gluconeogenesis: This metabolic process enables glucose generation from sources other than carbohydrates, such as amino acids. Biotin-containing enzymes support the starting of this process.
- Fatty acids synthesis: Biotin supports enzymes to activate reactions essential for the production of fatty acids.
- Breakdown of amino acids: Biotin-containing enzymes are required in the metabolic process of a number of important amino acids, including leucine.
Brickle nails are weak and easily become cracked, split or chipped.
It is a frequent problem, considered to affect near 20 percent of the world's adult population. Biotin may help breakable nails.
As part of a study, 8 individuals with fragile nails were given 2.5 mg of biotin per day for 6 to 15 months. Nail consistency improved by 25% in all 8 participants. Nail breaking has been also minimized.
An additional study of 35 men and women with brittle nails found that 2.5 mg of biotin per day for 2 to 7 months improved symptoms in 67% of the participants.
Nevertheless, these studies were limited and more research is necessary.
Biotin is commonly associated with improved hair growth and healthier and stronger hair. A deficit of biotin may contribute to hair loss, indicating that this vitamin is important for hair.
Although this vitamin is often promoted as an alternative therapy for hair loss, only individuals with an actual biotin deficiency get considerable benefits from supplementing.
It is advisable that men and women with biotin deficiency take 30 to 100 micrograms (mcg) per day. Children would need a smaller amount of 10 to 30 mcg.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Biotin is very important during pregnancy and breastfeeding. These two phases have been associated with a greater requirement for this vitamin.
It has been estimated that about 50% of pregnant women can develop a minor biotin deficiency. This indicates that it may slightly affect their well-being, but not enough to result in significant problems.
Insufficiencies are believed to develop because of the quicker biotin breakdown inside the body throughout pregnancy.
Furthermore, a major cause for concern is that animal studies have observed that a biotin deficit during pregnancy may result in birth defects.
Even so, keep in mind to always consult your doctor or nutritionist before taking supplements while being pregnant and while breastfeeding.
Blood sugar reduction in people with diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic condition. It is recognized by elevated blood sugar levels and reduced insulin function.
Researchers have analysed why biotin supplements impact blood sugar values in type 2 diabetics showing that biotin levels in blood may be lower in individuals with diabetes, compared to healthy people.
Scientific studies in diabetic patients who were given biotin have showed mixed results. Still, some monitored studies indicate that biotin supplements, together with the mineral chromium, may decrease blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Biotin's role in skin health is not fully understood. However, it is recognised that you may have red, scaly skin rashes when you are lacking it.
A few scientific studies furthermore suggest that biotin deficit may occasionally cause a skin disease called seborrheic dermatitis.
Biotin's activity in skin wellness may be associated with its effect on fat metabolism that is important for the skin and may be reduced when biotin is insufficient.
Generally there is no evidence demonstrating that biotin improves skin health in men and women who are not lacking this vitamin.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder. In MS, the protective coating of nerve fibres in the brain, spinal cord and eyes is destroyed or damaged.
This protective covering is called myelin, and biotin is considered to be an essential factor in producing it.
An original study on 23 individuals with progressive MS analysed the use of high doses of biotin. More than 90% of patients had some degree of medical improvement.
Although this finding requires much more study, two randomised monitored tests have been carried out on people with progressive MS. Specific final results have not been made public, but the preliminary findings are promising.
Food sources of Biotin
Biotin is provided by a wide variety of foods, so an actual deficit is somehow rare.
Foods that are a good source of it include:
- Organ meats, such as liver and kidney
- Egg yolks
- Legumes, such as soybeans and peanuts
- Leafy greens
- Nuts and nut butters
Moreover, your gut bacteria produce some amount of biotin. It is also available as a supplement, either on its own or as a component of combined vitamin supplements.
Biotin is regarded as completely safe. Even huge amounts of up to 300 milligrams (mg) daily to treat multiple sclerosis have not produced negative side effects.
In perspective, 300 milligrams is 10,000 times the typically suggested 30 microgram dosage for adults. Mainly because it's a water-soluble vitamin, excessive quantities are excreted in urine. There have been some reports of high-dosage biotin causing unusual results on thyroid studies, so always consult your doctor before using this supplement if you are taking thyroid medication.
Biotin is a B-vitamin that plays an essential role in carbohydrates, fats and proteins metabolism.
Numerous of its expected health advantages are based on weak evidence. Nevertheless, it may be worthwhile for your skin, hair and nails.
In addition, pregnant or breastfeeding women may need more biotin. Higher amounts are currently being researched as a potential therapy for multiple sclerosis.