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 (143–287 nmol/d).
Biotin is also called vitamin H (the H represents Haar und Haut,
German words for "hair and skin") or vitamin B7.
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)
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.
Animal studies have indicated few, if any, effects due to high level
doses of biotin.
Vitamin B supplements
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