Have you ever read an ingredients list and wondered, what is biotin exactly? Well, then this article will answer all your questions (and maybe a couple more).
What is Biotin?
Biotin is a water-soluble compound, sometimes referred to as vitamin B7. Interestingly, it’s also known as vitamin H which stands for ‘haar and haut’ which means hair and skin in German. This is because it’s fundamental to these outer elements of our body.
Biotin also supports the function of several enzymes known as carboxylases. These enzymes play a crucial role in transforming food into usable energy, as well as storing it in the body for later. They may be small, but they’re vital for metabolizing carbohydrate, fat, and protein.
As a vitamin, it’s very unstable and can be destroyed easily by heat, exposure to light, and prolonged contact with water. This means that cooking or soaking food can often degrade the biotin content. It’s recommended that adults consume 30 mg of biotin per day, rising to 35 mg for breastfeeding women.
What is biotin used for in the body?
So now we know a little bit of background, what is biotin used for in the body? It actually plays an important role in a number of different areas, here are just a few of them.
Backup Fuel for the Brain
Most of the time your brain is fuelled by glucose from carbohydrates. But when stores are depleted, it starts manufacturing glucose from other sources, namely amino acids from protein. This process is called gluconeogenesis and requires biotin-containing enzymes to take place. It’s important because your brain only runs on glucose, so it always needs a constant supply to keep functioning.
Nutrient Storage and Breakdown
Biotin assists enzymes involved in the production of fatty acids, which our body uses to store energy and create cells. Biotin-containing enzymes are also involved in the breakdown of several important amino acids, including leucine which is one of the essentials. This is because the body can’t manufacture leucine itself, so relies on protein breakdown as its main source.
Biotin is known for its role in maintaining healthy skin, nails, and hair. Biotin supplement can be beneficial for brittle nails that are prone to splitting or cracking. Deficiency has been linked to hair loss, so those with low biotin levels can benefit from supplements.
DNA and Cell Growth
Biotin is involved in the manufacture of DNA and RNA, the genetic components of cells. They control cell division which leads to growth and is important throughout the lifecycle. Pregnancy and breastfeeding appear to increase the body’s utilization of Biotin, with up to 50% of pregnant women estimated to develop a mild deficiency.
What is Biotin Beneficial For?
In addition to its well-known hair and nail strengthening properties, biotin can be beneficial for a number of health issues. It’s thought to be a valuable tool to combat yeast infections, which are notoriously difficult to fight. In The Yeast Syndrome, a book by John Parks Trowbridge and Morton Walker, they describe how adequate levels of biotin can prevent the development and spread of yeast infections. It is also used to treat peripheral neuropathy, which is a complication that patients with diabetes and Duchenne muscular dystrophy can experience. Biotin is thought to be helpful in maintaining steady blood sugar levels within the body too.
What is Biotin Deficiency Caused By?
Biotin deficiency is rare since it is only needed in small amounts and can be found in everyday foods. However, deficiencies in other vitamins (particularly vitamin B7) can lead to a lack of biotin. Eating raw egg whites on a regular basis can also cause biotin deficiency.
In situations where deficiency is detected, supplements are used to increase biotin levels back to their normal state. Biotin supplements are also generally recommended during pregnancy for reasons discussed previously.
Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency
Although biotin deficiency is rare, it can have profound and noticeable effects on our health. Symptoms of biotin deficiency include the following.
- Brittle nails
- Dermatitis or skin rashes
- Dry irritated skin
- Brittle hair or hair loss
- Lack of energy or chronic fatigue
- Digestive and intestinal tract issues
- Muscular aches and pains
- Nerve damage
- Mood changes
- Tingling in the limbs
- Cognitive impairments
- Neurological symptoms like depression, drowsiness, and insensibility
- Cradle cap in infants
- Loss of appetite
Symptoms of extreme biotin deficiency include increased cholesterol levels, heart problems, and paralysis. If extreme deficiency becomes a problem, the liver can struggle to detoxify the body efficiently, leading to hallucinations.
How Much Biotin Do I Need?
According to the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine, the daily recommended intake of biotin is:
- 5 micrograms daily for infants.
- 6–8 micrograms daily for infants aging from 7 months–3 years.
- 12–20 micrograms daily for children ages 4–13.
- 25 micrograms for adolescents.
- 30 micrograms for male and female adults over 19 years of age.
- 30 milligrams for pregnant women and 35 milligrams for women who are breastfeeding.
What is Biotin Found In?
Biotin can be found in liver, sunflower seeds, bananas, oatmeal, mushrooms, butter, eggs, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and milk. A well-balanced diet should provide adequate amounts of biotin, enabling the body to perform at its best. Biotin can also be found in skin cosmetics and hair products to promote strength. It’s also available in supplement form, sometimes in combination with other key nutrients.
What Is Biotin – Mystery Solved
So now you know the answer to what is biotin, along with its health benefits and how much your body needs. If you’d like to boost your nutrient levels then try our Biotin Plus Topical Patch. It contains high doses of biotin, along with your daily vitamin A, folic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin D requirements. Plus, it’s easy to administer and maximizes bioavailability, so you get the most benefit from the vitamins.
Importance of biotin metabolism, Pubmed, US Library of National Medicine, National Institute of Health. Accessed on 27th October 2017. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm. nih.gov/pubmed/10846444