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Biotin (Vitamin B5)

The Potential Health Benefits of Biotin


Here we explore the potential health perks of biotin, a vitamin that plays a role in supporting various bodily functions.

What is Biotin?




Biotin is essential for life. It is also known as vitamin B7, or vitamin H. It is a member of the water-soluble B-complex group of vitamins and serves to assist the function of enzymatic reactions in the body, which govern our digestion, metabolism and production of fatty acids and proteins. This is why biotin is famous for its effects on skin, nails and hair health. Biotin also helps the body convert food into energy and maintains integrity of the nervous system. This vitamin is not made in sufficient amounts by the human body so must be obtained from food.




What is Biotin found in?




Some common dietary sources of biotin include eggs, nuts and seeds (such as almonds and sunflower seeds), legumes (like lentils and chickpeas), whole grains, organ meats (such as liver), and certain vegetables (like sweet potatoes and spinach).




What are the potential benefits of taking Biotin supplementally?




Nutritional biotin deficiency is rare and usually due to the excessive consumption of raw eggs on a regular basis causing biotin deficiency when avidin, the protein in raw eggs, binds to biotin, making biotin unavailable for absorption in the intestine[i]. That said, there are claims that supplementing additional biotin can have health benefits such as the regulation of blood sugar, promotion of healthy hair, skin, and nail growth. The vitamin may also assist in pre-natal health. Biotin, alike most vitamins in the B-complex family is water soluble, meaning it passes through the urinary system quite rapidly and is not stored in the human body for very long. Particularly high amounts are found in foods such as liver (offal), egg yolk, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, sweet potato and whole grains [ii].


Biotin deficiency signs and symptoms:




There is not an effective test for detecting low biotin levels, so it is usually identified by its symptoms[x]:


Dermatitis, dry skin


Brittle nails


Alopecia or hair loss


Loss of hair colour


Fatigue, depression


Anorexia (loss of appetite)


Red scaly rash around eyes, mouth, nose


Seizures




Specific areas where Biotin supplementation may be helpful:




Brittle nails and hair loss


Brittle nails are a common symptom of a lack of biotin in the body[iii]. As mentioned previously, biotin is required for reactions in the body important for synthesis of lipid molecules, which bind the nail plate’s keratinocytes (cells which produce the hard protein substance in for hair, skin and nails) [iv]. It is well documented that hair loss as a symptom can present due to biotin deficiency or insufficiency [v] [vi].


32 women with brittle nails completed a trial; the group provided with biotin saw an increase in nail thickness by 25% and splitting of the nails also reduced significantly (5). Oral supplementation with biotin (2.5–10 mg orally per day) has been used to improve the quality of nails [vii].


Diabetes


Animal studies have been completed to assess the antidiabetic capabilities of biotin mixed with chromium picolinate in rats with type 2 diabetes. This work suggested that type 2 diabetics may benefit from taking biotin supplements to help regulate blood glucose levels. However, the research in this area is not yet conclusive [viii].


Another study was carried out to investigate the protective role of biotin in kidney injury and oxidative stress in mice with diabetes type 1. It was concluded that this form of kidney disease was reduced by the protective role of biotin in this study. However, again it was said more research is needed to further validate these findings [ix].




Safety




Biotin supplementation is generally safe, but there are some risks to consider. It can interfere with diagnostic tests and lab results, potentially masking symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency and it can interact with certain medications. Equiring with a healthcare professional is recommended before starting biotin supplementation you think you may be affected by these issues.

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Skin Support , Hair Health , Hair Loss - Women , Dry Skin , Nail Health , Blood Sugar Balance

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