6 Health Benefits of Biotin (Vitamin B7)
The push for a well-balanced diet is largely related to its ability to harness and captivate valuable nutrients. Mostly in the form of vitamins and minerals, each nutrient has their own, unique characteristics. So what is biotin’s story, sources, and recommended needs? We are discovering biotin benefits here!
Health Benefits of Biotin
Also known as vitamin B7 or vitamin H, biotin is one the B complex vitamins that help the body convert ingested food into usable energy. Acting alone, biotin further assists in the breakdown of both fatty acids and amino acids along with a role in folate and pantothenic acid metabolism. Biotin benefits largely align with the evidenced treatments of…
1. Biotin-Thiamin-Responsive Basal Ganglia Disease
Basal ganglia are brain structures that help control movement. Suggestive to its name, improvement or treatment of the disorder may be responsive in the presence of biotin and thiamine. Without vigorous treatment, individuals may experience severe neurological problems.
2. Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which the immune system essentially attacks the protective covering of nerves, particularly in the central nervous system (CNS), and affects the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. A high-dose, pharmaceutical drug of biotin may be useful in patients with progressive MS, as it has shown to increase cellular energy production, thus protecting against nerve cell damage.
In individuals managing diabetes, insulin utilization or availability is compromised. Animal studies have shown the use of biotin stimulated insulin secretion, subsequently lowering blood glucose levels, in both type 1 and 2 diabetes.
4. Brittle Fingernails
Nails may be strengthened with biotin supplementation. Studies have suggested an increased thickness and decreased nail splitting with biotin. However, results have been in small studies, with not all individuals experiencing differences in nail strength.
5. Hair Loss
Also known as alopecia, hair loss can occur in both males and females. Multiple causes of hair loss include aging, genetics, malnutrition, smoking, an autoimmune disorder, illness, and some medications. Biotin has been suggested to promote hair growth, especially in conjunction with zinc.
6. Pregnancy-Related Biotin Deficiency
A mild deficiency has been witnessed during pregnancy, justifying the urge for biotin recommendation in pregnant and lactating women. If mom is deficient of biotin, essential fetal development may be compromised.
From protein sources to fruits, the sources of biotin are broad. Specific sources include liver, mushrooms, peanuts, almonds, yeast, nonfat milk and yogurt, meat, soy protein, egg yolk, banana, grapefruit, tomato, watermelon, strawberries, and most vegetables. Although biotin is generally considered stable in most conditions, it can be destroyed by heat or under oxidizing conditions (or the presence of oxygen). In addition to food sources, bacteria within the intestine are shown to synthesize the vitamin.
Biotin Deficiency and Toxicity
With biotin found in a wide variety of food products, developing a deficiency is rare. However, deficiency risk increases in or during the following conditions or populations:
• Parenteral nutrition without supplementary biotin.
• Nursing infants whose mothers’ milk contains very little to no biotin.
• Gastrointestinal (GI) tract disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), that causes vitamin and mineral malabsorption.
• Prolonged intake of raw eggs, related to its avidin content. Avidin is protein found in eggs that binds with biotin, ultimately decreasing biotin’s bioavailability in the body. Cooking the egg white is suggested to disrupt avidin from binding to biotin.
• A biotinidase deficiency, a rare hereditary disorder that impairs proper biotin metabolism. It further causes a secondary biotin deficiency.
Highlighted signs and symptoms of a biotin deficiency include hair loss, skin rash and dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), skin rash, ataxia (loss of voluntary control of muscle movements), seizures, depression, lethargy (lack of energy), numbness and tingling of the extremities, hepatic steatosis (fatty liver or accumulation of fat in the liver), and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol).
Like associated deficiencies, biotin toxicity is suggested to be rare. In fact, biotin is not known to be toxic, even in very large doses.
How Much Biotin Do You Need?
The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for biotin varies based on life stages. The chart below displays the Adequate Intakes (AIs) valued in micrograms per day (g/day).
*Adapted from Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process