Biotin is one of those vitamins that is rarely spotlighted. It is also known as B-7, one of the B-complex vitamins, and can be found in many types of food.
What Is Biotin?
As a B vitamin, biotin is used in the forming of glucose and fatty acids, which are necessary factors for energy production. Additionally, biotin can aid in metabolizing proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Research has not determined the ideal amount of biotin that is required in the diet, though the estimated amount of 30 mcg daily, is typically sufficient to prevent deficiency. Most diets generally contain 30-70 mcg of biotin per day, which makes it one of the vitamins that generally meets the recommended daily requirements.
What Does Biotin Do?
Biotin can help increase energy levels because of its role in producing energy from glucose and fatty acids. Biotin also keeps several body functions working properly, such as nerve tissues and sweat glands.
Biotin, in larger doses, can also be beneficial to people who suffer with diabetes. An amount of 8-16 mg per day of biotin can help in reducing blood glucose levels as well as help prevent diabetic neuropathy.
There are additional claims of biotin benefits that have not sufficiently been proven by research. One claim is that biotin can aid in the strengthening of brittle nails. There are also other claims of biotin playing a role in the treatment of hair loss, as well as treating acne and other skin problems like eczema.
What Happens If There Is a Deficiency of Biotin?
Complications can occur when there is a deficiency of biotin. Because it plays a role in metabolic functions of the body, low blood sugar and high blood ammonia, are possible problems that may occur when biotin levels are too low. Various skin, intestinal, and nervous system issues can also result from a deficiency of biotin. While there have not been any documented cases of death from biotin deficiency, theoretically it is possible.
Conditions That Can Cause Biotin Deficiency
Use of antibiotics on a long-term basis can cause problems with biotin production and may increase the possibility of anemia, depression, hair loss and nausea.
People suffering from alcoholism have also been shown to have low levels of biotin, which again can cause symptoms of deficiency.
Up to 50% of pregnant women have also been reported to have a biotin deficiency, though prenatal vitamins can generally alleviate any problems.
Where To Find Biotin
Biotin can be bound in egg yolks, yeast, mushrooms, organ meats, soy, peanuts, and bananas. There are also biotin supplements that can be found either in a multivitamin, or as a single supplement in drug stores and other health stores.
Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin, making it generally safe because the body can excrete excess amounts through urine.
Because of the ability of the body to absorb biotin, there is very little evidence of overdose issues that can occur as a result of too much biotin. Also, there are no known interaction problems with biotin and other prescription drugs. Pregnant women and those who may have allergies to certain foods or dyes, should check with a physician before taking any type of biotin supplement.