Biotin, also known as vitamin H or coenzyme R, is a water-soluble B-vitamin (vitamin B7).
Biotin is necessary for cell growth, the production of fatty acids, and the metabolism of fats and amino acids. Biotin assists in various metabolic reactions involving the transfer of carbon dioxide. It may also be helpful in maintaining a steady blood sugar level. Biotin is often recommended as a dietary supplement for strengthening hair and nails, though scientific data supporting this outcome are weak. Nevertheless, biotin is found in many cosmetics and health products for the hair and skin.
Biotin deficiency is very rare. The amounts needed are small, a very wide range of foods contain biotin, and intestinal bacteria synthesize biotin, which is then absorbed by the host animal. For that reason, statutory agencies in many countries, for example the USA and Australia, have not formally established a recommended daily intake of biotin. Instead, an Adequate Intake (AI) is identified based on the theory that average intake meets needs.
High doses of biotin may play a role in stopping and reversing progression in progressive multiple sclerosis.
Biotin is a B-complex vitamin that not many people know about, probably because it’s very rare to have deficiency of biotin. Biotin is needed by every living cell of your body. The daily requirement of biotin is 30 mcg (micrograms) for both men and women. Fortunately, your body obtains biotin in much higher quantities without extra effort. Dietary sources of biotin include cooked eggs, cauliflower, leafy vegetables, peanuts and cheese. Moreover, useful organisms present in your gut also produce biotin to some extent.
Just like all other vitamins, biotin also plays a crucial role in several processes of the body.
Biotin, or Vitamin B7, is a water-soluble vitamin that’s a part of the vitamin B complex — a group of key nutrients needed for healthy metabolic, nerve, digestive and cardiovascular functions.
Biotin acts as a coenzyme in the body that’s needed for the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids and glucose. This means that when we eat foods that are sources of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, vitamin B7 biotin must be present in order to convert and use these macronutrients for bodily energy, to carry out physical activities and for proper psychological functioning.
Digestion of food
The main function of biotin is carrying out metabolic processes of the body. Several reactions that take place during the breakdown of food that you eat require biotin. This includes breakdown of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. If your body has sufficient levels of biotin, the food will instantly be processed. But people who suffer from metabolic problems may require a biotin supplement.
Vitamin B7 biotin regulates gene expressions that are critical in carrying out functions of the metabolism.
Vitamin B7, along with other B vitamins, is needed to convert the food you eat into useable energy that supports a healthy metabolism. Vitamin B7 does this in several ways: It converts glucose from carbohydrates and sugar sources into useable “fuel” that is the body’s preferred source of energy; it helps the body use amino acids from proteins to carry out multiple body functions; and it activates fatty acids from fat-containing foods like oils or animal fats.
Only once the body can use macronutrients from food for energy will normal, healthy metabolic activity take place. Vitamin B7 biotin also improves the metabolism and utilization of glucose, which is extremely beneficial in our society where cases of type 2 diabetes are so common.
Without enough vitamin B7 present in the body, symptoms of a sluggish metabolism may appear like low energy levels, fatigue, weight gain, digestive problems, possible development of diabetes, changes in appetite, poor moods, and more.
Biotin plays a role in enhancing the secretion of insulin, a protein that regulates blood sugar levels. To understand how exactly biotin helps in this process, Lazo de la Vega-Monroy ML and colleagues conducted a study which found that biotin has a direct effect on the cells that produce insulin (beta cells of the pancreas). The study suggested that biotin may play an important role in preventing and treating diabetes as well.
Vitamin B7 biotin, especially when combined with chromium, has been shown to help lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. This is especially true for those who have blood glucose (sugar) levels that are not controlled well by prescription medicines.
Vitamin B7 benefits blood glucose levels because it facilitates the activity of insulin, which is the crucial hormone needed to bring blood sugar back to a balanced state. Better insulin response helps to reduce the risk of widely fluctuating blood sugar levels, which can lead to pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, weight gain and forms of metabolic syndrome.
Vitamin B7 biotin decreases the expression of enzymes that stimulate glucose production by the liver, therefore less sugar is released into the bloodstream. For this reason, vitamin B7 deficiency has been linked to impaired glucose tolerance and decreased utilization of glucose, which are risk factors for diabetes. Vitamin B7 can also help reduce symptoms of existing cases of diabetes, including nerve pain.
Biotin helps in reducing certain risk factors leading to heart disease. Biotin in combination with chromium significantly reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and total cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart attack, atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
Vitamin B7 is helpful in reducing surplus fat from the human body and maintaining a healthy weight. People suffering from obesity are generally recommended by doctors to include food that is rich in vitamin B7 in their daily diet plan.
Biotin is needed for all metabolic processes of the body. So when you’re deficient in biotin your rate of metabolism gets lowered. With high biotin levels, your body is able to breakdown food at a faster rate increasing your metabolism, thereby helping in weight loss. But that doesn’t mean you should just rely on biotin supplements to lose weight. Without proper exercise and healthy diet, biotin cannot aid weight loss on its own.
Vitamin B7 deficiency is extremely rare, which is probably due to the fact that biotin is synthesized by beneficial bacteria in the human digestive tract.
Groups at risk of biotin deficiency include patients maintained on total intravenous nutrition, hemodialysis patients, diabetes mellitus patients, and patients with an impaired uptake of vitamins from food. In addition, pregnancy may be associated with marginal biotin deficiency.