Biotin, formally known as Vitamin H or Coenzyme R, is a B vitamin needed in very small amounts to help your body break down fat, carbohydrates and amino acids. Naturally, the bacteria that lives in your bowel have the ability to make biotin. You can also get this vitamin from a healthy diet.
Biotin (Vitamin B7) is a water-soluble vitamin, which means it cannot be stored in your body; it gets absorbed easily by water and is then flushed out of your body through the urine.
According to the National Library of Medicine, biotin as a drug therapy can be used to ease disabilities triggered by multiple sclerosis, alleviating diabetes and diabetes-related nerve damage, or encouraging baby growth and development during pregnancy. It can also be used as remedy for thinning hair, brittle nails, and dry, itchy skin.
Some Good Sources
Biotin is found in a wide variety of foods, only at very low levels. Sources include;
- Pork liver
- Sunflower seeds
Vitamin B7 (Biotin) deficiency occurs due to absence of the vitamin in the diet. Daily consumption of raw egg whites for several months may result in biotin deficiency, due to their avidin content. Pregnant women tend to have a higher risk of biotin deficiency, due to increased urinary excretion of 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid.
Symptoms of Biotin deficiency include:
- Brittle and thin fingernails.
- Hair loss.
- Scaly, red rash around the eyes, nose, mouth, and genital area.
- Numbness and tingling of the extremities.
Studies show people with genetic disorders of biotin deficiency have increased risk of malfunctioning immune system function and susceptibility to bacterial and fungal infections. Biotin deficiency can be treated and prevented with healthy diet and nutritional supplements.
Many people take biotin supplements in hopes of treating hair loss, cradle cap in infants, and brittle nails, including reversing the damages caused by multiple sclerosis and diabetes. It is alright to say adequate amount of Biotin can be consumed from healthy dietary sources.
However, biotin is not stored in the body, this is due to its water-solubility and excretion through the urine. Biotin is available as a supplement and as an ingredient in multivitamins.
Pregnant Women are most at risk of Biotin deficiency and will need supplements to meet their daily requirements.
Biotin is not known to be toxic. In people without disorders of biotin metabolism, doses of up to 5 mg/day are not associated with adverse effects.
Oral biotin supplementation has also been well tolerated in doses up to 200 mg/day in people with hereditary disorders of biotin metabolism.
Because reports of adverse events were lacking when the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for biotin were established in 1998, the Institute of Medicine did not establish a tolerable upper intake level for biotin.
- Biotin – Linus Pauling Institute – Oregon State University
- Biotin – Health Professional Fact Sheet – Office of Dietary Supplements
- Otten JJ, Hellwig JP, Meyers LD – Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements – The National Academies Press.
- Biotin – Micronutrient Information Center – Linus Pauling Institute – Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.
- Wikipedia – Biotin
- Stella Katsipoutis – Women’s Health – The Major Biotin Side Effect You Should Know