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What is Biotin?
Also known as vitamin H, biotin is one of the B complex vitamins that help the body convert food into energy. The word “biotin” comes from the ancient Greek word “biotos,” which means “life” or “sustenance.” B vitamins, and specifically biotin, help keep your skin, hair, eyes, liver, and nervous system healthy. Biotin is also a crucial nutrient during pregnancy, as it’s important for embryonic growth. Most people get the biotin they need from eating a healthy diet, but there have been many claims that getting more biotin can regulate your blood sugar, promote healthy hair, skin, and nails, and help pregnant moms have healthier babies. How much biotin is enough, where can you get it, and what can it really do for you?
The History of Biotin
The discovery of biotin has a similar history to that of many other vitamins in which no one single person can be accredited to its identification. The full function and structure of biotin, also known as Vitamin H or Vitamin B7, was not completely understood until the first few decades of the 1990s. In 1916, W.G. Bateman became one of the first notable contributors to the discovery of biotin after finding toxic levels of the vitamin within an organism following the addition of excess raw egg white to a nutritionally adequate diet. It was not until 1935, however, that scientists Fritz Kogl and Paul Gyory suggested the name “biotin” for the pure vitamin concentrations that they derived. The dietary sources of biotin are numerous and varied. By far the best sources of the vitamin in the human diet are from organ meats, such as kidney and liver. There are many other food sources of biotin including; egg yolks, cooked oats, bananas, soybeans, brewer’s yeast, rice bran, nuts, milk, and wheat. Natural bacteria that live in the small intestines in humans also produce supplemental biotin. When considering dietary sources of biotin, sources that lower its amount must also be taken into account. Egg whites have a chemical that binds to biotin very tightly preventing its uptake in the body’s bloodstream. Also because of the micro flora that produce biotin in the human intestines, prolonged use of antibiotic medication can lower the amount of biotin within the body. Biotin deficiency is extremely rare in the US because the population gets an enough of the vitamin from their food sources. A deficiency is usually associated with either a predisposed disease or with the consumption of excessive amounts of raw egg whites over a period of months to years. Some of the diseases associated with biotin deficiency have to do with the absorption of enzymes in the small intestines. Diabetics are also at risk for biotin deficiency because they often have problems absorbing enzymes. Consuming mass amounts of raw egg whites (approximately 20 a day) can lead to a deficiency because the protein Avidin, found in raw egg whites, binds to biotin and makes it impossible for the small intestines to absorb the vitamin. Also, pregnant women commonly undergo a biotin deficiency during a normal pregnancy because the developing fetus requires large amounts for growth. The main symptoms of biotin deficiency are brittle nails, hair loss, muscle pain, nausea, fatigue, anemia and dry skin. This deficiency can be treated with a biotin supplement, which is more commonly used for cosmetic purposes since biotin is known for increasing nail and hair growth. Also, eating more biotin-rich foods, such as meat, grapefruit, yeast, and cooked eggs, can treat biotin deficiency. Side effects from having an overdose of biotin are rare. Because it is so easily excreted in urine and feces, the body can simply get rid of any excess. If there is an overdose of biotin in the body, there may be a noticeable increased need to urinate or abnormal sweating frequency. In rare cases, an overdose of the vitamin can be life threatening. When biotin is taken in excess along with vitamin B5, it is possible to develop a condition called eosinophilic pleuropericardial effusion. In mice, excess biotin resulted in a decreased size of the placenta leading to an increased rate of miscarriages and birth defects. Nonetheless, this side effect has not been observed in pregnant women. Another benign consequence of an excess of the vitamin is also rapid nail and hair growth. According to both the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the diet requirements for biotin are not known. In his article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Hamid Said explains that this lack of scientific information is due to “a lack of analytic tools to quantitate biotin in body fluids and the metabolic disturbances caused by biotin deficiency and a lack of experimental validation of putative indexes of biotin status.” Although there is no recommended dietary allowance established for biotin, safe and adequate intakes have been suggested (Said). The adequate intakes for biotin are 7 mcg for infants 0-12 months, 8 mcg for children 1-3 years, 12 mcg for children 4-8 years, 20 mcg for children 9-13 years, 25 mcg for adolescents 14-18 years, 30 mcg for adults over 18 years and pregnant women, and 35 mcg for breast-feeding women (U.S. National Library of Medicine). Although biotin is produced in excess by the intestinal bacteria of the body, it is found artificially in many hair, nail, and shampoo products because the vitamin is essential for proper hair and nail growth. Considering that biotin cannot be readily absorbed through neither the hair or the skin, companies who promise hair and skin improvement through superficial application of biotin produce inefficient products. Biotin is used to treat cradle cap (Seborrheic dermatitis), which is a common inflammatory skin condition that causes flaky and/or scaly skin in infants. It is also believed to treat premature graying of hair in individuals with low biotin levels. Uncombable hair syndrome in children can also be treated with Biotin supplementation. It is also believed to help maintain control of blood sugar levels in people suffering from type 1 and type 2 diabetes although no concrete evidence has been shown to prove this theory.
The Top 5 Reasons You Need Biotin
1. Hair Loss and Brittle Nails Several researches show, that Biotin is extremely good to reduce problems like hair loss, brittle nails, split hair etc. Therefore it’s found in many products for hair, nails and skin (but remember – health always starts from the inside). If you are troubled with any of these things, biotin might be just the right thing to get beautiful, strong hair and nails. In addition to taking a supplement, always try to eat unprocessed food, reduce your grain consumption and increase fruit and vegetable portions in your menu. Avoid sugar (in any form), corn syrup and other unhealthy things. Implementing some changes in your diet and supplementing at the same time can have tremendous effect on the health of your hair and nails. You should also remember that since Biotin is made in the gut topical solutions like shampoos with biotin won’t help you. You need to take a supplement.
2. Pregnancy It’s also a fact, that approximately 50% of women with normal pregnancy are biotin deficient (especially at the end of pregnancy), while not showing any other symptoms than high 3-HIA levels in urine, which is an indicator of biotin deficiency. In mice such degrees of biotin deficiency that are metabolically similar to those seen in pregnant women, are very teratogenic (causing disturbances in fetal development). Some researches raise the concern, that marginal biotin deficiency might also be teratogenic in human pregnancy, but this statement needs further studies. Especially when pregnant, always consult your physician before supplementing with anything! You may need some help to evaluate your personal needs.
3. Mild Depression And/Or Fatigue A behavioural study carried out on mice revealed, that biotin-deficient mice were significantly more fatigued compared to their peers of same age in the same conditions. The mice became depressed and/or fatigued without the deficiency being apparent in brain and muscle. There were significant changes in behaviour after biotin administration. It is suggested, that supplementing with biotin may help human against depression and/or fatigue, too.
4. Anti-Aging Properies And Iron Deificency There are studies showing, that biotin deficient cells have much higher rate of oxidative damage (free radicals, oxidation, faster cellular aging) than in biotin sufficient cells. In addition to that, supplementing biotin deficient cells with biotin greatly reduced DNA damage. In vitro , biotin deficiency accelerates cellular ageing significantly, while providing cells with biotin reduces the damage. Also, adequate levels of Biotin are essential for adequate iron uptake. To reduce iron deficiency, you might need to provide your body with more biotin.
5. Unexplained Loss Of Taste Two patients, both over 60, experienced an unexplained loss of taste. It clearly had a great impact on their life quality. By administrating oral biotin, those two people experienced taste restoration after supplementing with 20 mg of biotin per day for several weeks. Although this subject still needs further studies, it is suggested, that it might be a potential curative treatment for patients with unexplained loss of taste.
Shocking Facts About Biotin
Biotin Deficiency Symptoms 1.Eight Types of Biotin There are eight types (stereoisomers) of biotin. Each are beneficial, however, you can only find one of them in nature: d-biotin.1 This stereoisomer boasts active enzymes that help maintain your metabolism as well as promote healthy glucose levels. *Extra Fact: Stereoisomers are molecules that share the same formula and atom sequence, but the construction of their atoms in real space is different. They’re like houses that contain identical-looking rooms, but with varying layouts. 2.Recent Research Scientists didn’t even begin studying the effects of biotin until the early 1900s, when they observed that some strains of yeast required a material called “bios” to grow.2 3.Exact Origins Biotin was first synthesized e in 1943 by Leo Sternbach and Moses Wolf Goldberg.2 4.The "H" Vitamin Is A B-Vitamin Biotin is frequently nicknamed the “H” vitamin, which stems from the German words Haar and Haut, meaning “hair” and “skin,” respectively.3 In actuality, it is a b-vitamin. 5.Bodily Production of Biotin While multiple internet sources claim your body can’t make any biotin on its own, according to the University of Maryland, bacteria in your small intestine can make a negligible amount. Regardless, it’s still recommended that individuals consume biotin-rich foods or supplements to maintain a healthy lifestyle and vibrant, healthy hair.4,5 6.Olden-Day Uses & Effects It was first used to boost the strength of horses’ hooves.6 When researchers saw the difference between the quality of the hooves both before and after, they began studying its many effects on other mammals, including humans.
The Benefits of Biotin
1. Macronutrient metabolism Biotin is important for energy production. For example, several enzymes need it to function properly. These enzymes are involved in carb, fat and protein metabolism. They initiate critical steps in the metabolic processes of these nutrients. Biotin plays a role in: Gluconeogenesis: This metabolic pathway enables glucose production from sources other than carbs, such as amino acids. Biotin-containing enzymes help initiate this process. Fatty acid synthesis: Biotin assists enzymes that activate reactions important for the production of fatty acids. The breakdown of amino acids: Biotin-containing enzymes are involved in the metabolism of several important amino acids, including leucine. Summary: Biotin assists in energy production. It supports a number of enzymes involved in the metabolism of carbs, fats, and protein.
2. Brittle Nails Brittle nails are weak and easily become chipped, split or cracked. It's a common condition, estimated to affect around 20 percent of the world's population. Biotin may benefit brittle nails (7). In one study, 8 people with brittle nails were given 2.5 mg of biotin per day for 6 to 15 months. Nail thickness improved by 25% in all 8 participants. Nail splitting was also reduced (8). Another study of 35 people with brittle nails found 2.5 mg of biotin per day for 1.5 to 7 months improved symptoms in 67% of participants (9). However, these studies were small and more research is needed. Summary: Brittle nails are fragile and easily become split or cracked. Biotin supplements may help strengthen the nails.
3. Hair health woman brushing hair Biotin is often associated with increased hair growth and healthier, stronger hair. There is very little evidence to support this. However, a deficiency in biotin may lead to hair loss, which indicates that the vitamin is important for hair (2, 10). While it is often marketed as an alternative treatment for hair loss, only people with an actual biotin deficiency get significant benefit from supplementing (11). It is recommended that people with biotin deficiency take 30 to 100 micrograms (mcg) per day. Infants would need a smaller dose of 10 to 30 mcg. Whether it improves hair growth in healthy people has yet to be determined. Summary: Biotin is claimed to promote hair growth and healthy hair, but the evidence is weak. However, deficiency has been linked to hair loss, and those who are actually deficient may benefit from supplementing.
4. Pregnancy and breastfeeding Biotin is important during pregnancy and breastfeeding. These life stages have been associated with an increased requirement for this vitamin (12, 13). In fact, it has been estimated that up to 50% of pregnant women may develop a mild biotin deficiency. This means that it may start to affect their well-being slightly, but isn't severe enough to cause noticeable symptoms (14, 15, 16). Deficiencies are thought to occur due to the faster biotin breakdown within the body during pregnancy (17). Additionally, a major cause for concern is that animal studies have found that a biotin deficiency during pregnancy may cause birth defects (18, 19, 20). Nevertheless, remember to always consult your doctor or dietitian/nutritionist before taking supplements during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Summary: If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, your biotin requirements may go up. Up to 50% of women may get less of this vitamin than they need during pregnancy.
5. Reduced blood sugar in people with diabetes Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disease. It's characterized by high blood sugar levels and impaired insulin function. Researchers have studied how biotin supplements affect blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. Some evidence shows biotin concentrations in blood may be lower in people with diabetes, compared to healthy individuals (21). Studies in diabetics given biotin alone have provided mixed results (21, 22). However, several controlled studies indicate that biotin supplements, combined with the mineral chromium, may lower blood sugar levels in some people with type 2 diabetes (23, 24, 25, 26). Summary: When combined with chromium, biotin may help lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Why Biotin Is The #1
The body needs biotin to metabolize fats, carbohydrates, and protein. It is a coenzyme for carboxylase enzymes. These enzymes are involved in: • synthesizing, or creating, fatty acids • synthesizing the amino acids isoleucine and valine • gluconeogenesis, or generating glucose Biotin is important for a number of functions Maintaining a healthy pregnancy Mild biotin deficiency is often seen during pregnancy. It can lead to abnormal development in the fetus. Folic acid supplementation is recommended both the year before and during pregnancy. It is sensible to obtain a multivitamin that provides at least 30 mcg of biotin per day, in addition to folic acid, to decrease the risk of a deficiency. Lowering blood glucose Several studies have tested biotin's ability to lower blood glucose in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Results have been promising. In animal studies, biotin was shown to stimulate the secretion of insulin from the pancreas and subsequently to lower blood glucose. Research published in 2016 indicated that biotin may assist with glycemic control in people with type I diabetes. More studies are needed before biotin's effects on blood sugar can be confirmed.
Top 3 Questions People Ask About Biotin
1.How does it work? Biotin is an important component of enzymes in the body that break down certain substances like fats, carbohydrates, and others. There isn't a good laboratory test for detecting biotin deficiency, so this condition is usually identified by its symptoms, which include thinning of the hair (frequently with loss of hair color) and red scaly rash around the eyes, nose, and mouth. Nervous system symptoms include depression, exhaustion, hallucinations, and tingling of the arms and legs. There is some evidence that diabetes could result in biotin deficiency.
2. Is Biotin safe to Take? Yes. Biotin is a water soluble, naturally occurring vitamin that has many benefits for hair, skin and nails.
3. Is Vitamin B7 (Biotin) deficiency common? No. Most people consume enough Biotin on a daily basis through foods such as eggs, cucumbers, and peanuts to show no real signs of deficiency.
Tips for a Biotin
A biotin deficiency results in abnormal metabolism of amino acids and fatty acids, which may cause unexplained hair breakage, hair loss and thin, splitting hairs. When your hair becomes unhealthy, it can become fragile, easily break and even fall out. Hair loss can have a negative effect on mental health. Biotin is the most effective mineral when used to treat this condition in both children and adults in combination with zinc, along with topical clobetasol propionate. By eating biotin-rich foods or taking biotin supplements, you can keep your hair healthy and reduce hair loss. According to a research, some females may have hair loss during and after their pregnancy, and taking biotin can solve with this problem. Experts suggest that taking 5mg of biotin under a physician’s guidance will support to prevent further hair loss. When it comes to uses of biotin for hair growth, you should not look down this benefit of biotin for hair, but try to use this vitamin to get reduce hair loss.