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Vitamins

Vitamin B7 Biotin Facts

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 usage are weak. Nevertheless, biotin is found in many cosmetics and health products for the hair and skin.
Biotin deficiency is rare because, in general, intestinal bacteria produce biotin in excess of the body's daily requirements. For that reason, statutory agencies in many countries, for example the USA and Australia, do not prescribe a recommended daily intake of biotin. However, a number of metabolic disorders exist in which an individual's metabolism of biotin is abnormal, such as deficiency in the holocarboxylase synthetase enzyme which covalently links biotin onto the carboxylase, where the biotin acts as a cofactor.

Sources: cauliflower, bananas and mushrooms, produced internally in the gut via bacteria.

Biotin is consumed from a wide range of food sources in the diet, but few are particularly rich sources. Foods with a relatively high biotin content include Swiss chard, raw egg yolk (however, the consumption of avidin-containing egg whites with egg yolks minimizes the effectiveness of egg yolk's biotin in one's body), liver, Saskatoon berries, leafy green vegetables, and peanuts. The dietary biotin intake in Western populations has been estimated to be 35 to 70 μg/d (143287 nmol/d).

Biotin is also called vitamin H (the H represents Haar und Haut, German words for "hair and skin") or vitamin B7.

Deficiency

Biotin deficiency is rare and mild, and can be addressed with supplementation. It is caused by the consumption of raw egg whites (two or more daily for several months) due the avidin they contain, a protein which binds extremely strongly with biotin, making it unavailable. Such regimens have produced the only examples of biotin deficiency serious enough to produce symptoms.
The first demonstration of biotin deficiency in animals was observed in animals fed raw egg white. Rats fed egg white protein were found to develop dermatitis, alopecia, and neuromuscular dysfunction. This syndrome, called egg white injury, was discovered to be caused by a glycoprotein found in egg white, avidin.  Avidin denatures upon heating (cooking), while the biotin remains intact.


Symptoms of biotin deficiency include:

Hair loss (alopecia)
Conjunctivitis
Dermatitis in the form of a scaly, red rash around the eyes, nose, mouth, and genital area.
Neurological symptoms in adults, such as depression, lethargy, hallucination, and numbness and tingling of the extremities


The characteristic facial rash, together with an unusual facial fat distribution, has been termed the "biotin-deficient face" by some experts. Individuals with hereditary disorders of biotin deficiency have evidence of impaired immune system function, including increased susceptibility to bacterial and fungal infections.


Pregnant women tend to have a high risk of biotin deficiency. Nearly half of pregnant women have abnormal increases of 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid, which reflects reduced status of biotin.

Toxicity

Animal studies have indicated few, if any, effects due to high level doses of biotin.

Vitamin B supplements

Sources: 
 Understanding Nutrition

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biotin 

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