Ensuring Adequate Biotin Benefits Many Bodily Functions
Biotin, also commonly known as vitamin H or vitamin B7, is one of the essential B group vitamins that are responsible for the correct functioning of many of our body’s processes, especially our metabolism. Biotin particularly assists in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Other possible biotin benefits include helping with correct nervous system functioning and improving the health of our hair. This is why biotin is generally included in hair loss vitamins and supplements.
Biotin Deficiency – Is It A Problem?
Most people who eat a well-rounded, healthy diet consisting of enough foods from each of the essential food groups will not have a biotin deficiency problem.
However, there are certain groups that are more at risk of not having enough biotin. These include:
- Women who are pregnant
- Crohn’s Disease sufferers
- People with liver disease
- Heavy smokers
- People who eat a lot of processed foods at the expense of healthy foods
Biotin Deficiency – What To Watch Out For
Some of the symptoms of biotin deficiency may include loss of hair, scaly skin, cracking around the edges of your mouth as well as dry eyes, and even depression.
Benefits Of Biotin – Proven And Unproven
One of the most common benefits associated with biotin is that it helps to strengthen your nails and hair. Unfortunately there has not been a lot of research conducted into this and what research there has been is not conclusive. Nevertheless there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that chronic hair loss in particular may be associated with a biotin deficiency.
Lack of cold hard evidence also hasn’t stopped companies who produce hair care products from adding biotin to their products. However, many health professionals suggest that taking biotin orally is a far more effective way to obtain maximum biotin benefits. Therefore, if you’re thinking about taking something to assist with hair loss, you’re probably going to be better off looking for reputable hair loss vitamins instead. However, as always, seek medical advice beforehand.
Getting enough dietary biotin has also been implicated in helping maintain good skin health. We know that the B group vitamins in general are crucial for maintaining normal hormone and nervous system function. When these get out of whack through an inadequate dietary intake the effects often show up on our skin.
Our skin is our largest organ but it’s frequently the most neglected too. To maintain good skin health, it needs to be fed from the inside via our diet. Insufficient biotin and indeed vitamin B group deficiencies in general have been linked to a number of adverse effects on skin such as itchiness, dermatitis, acne, rashes and psoriasis.
Pregnant women are another group who have been found to be biotin deficient. Studies done on pregnant mice discovered that low biotin levels led to a higher incident of birth defects in their offspring. Doctors therefore will often recommend pregnant women take a biotin supplement and folic acid just to be on the safe side. Biotin is water soluble and excess amounts are simply removed via the urinary tract. There are currently no known toxic side effects of taking too much biotin. However this doesn’t mean you should go out and take excess amounts of it because the reality is that most people get sufficient from a healthy diet.
An adequate intake of dietary biotin benefits the metabolism. As has been mentioned previously, biotin is an essential part of our digestive process as it helps to break down the protein, fats and carbohydrates we eat. When biotin is combined with chromium picolinate, a chromium supplement that helps insulin deal with carbohydrates, it’s particularly effective in many instances. Biotin has been linked to weight control but should in no way take the place of a healthy eating and exercise plan.
Which leads us to another way biotin benefits our body. Along with chromium, it helps to regulate our blood sugar levels. Biotin deficiency has in fact been associated with a reduced metabolic ability to deal with glucose, a major contributor to Type 2 diabetes. Therefore, a biotin / chromium picolinate supplement may be prescribed for people with Type 2 diabetes to help regulate their blood sugar uptake.
Early research has also shown that biotin may play a role in keeping cholesterol levels under control by reducing the amount of bad cholesterol in our system. This has important implications for heart health because high levels of bad cholesterol are a major cause of strokes and heart disease.
How Much Will Reduce The Risk Of A Biotin Deficiency
The recommended daily intake of biotin for adults and teenagers is 30 – 100mcg. The optimum way to get the best biotin benefits is by eating them naturally through a balanced diet. Good sources of natural biotin include egg yolks, nut (peanuts, almonds, walnuts etc), butters made from nuts (peanut butter, almond butter), soy beans, legumes, bananas, mushrooms, cauliflower cereals, whole grains and meats like kidney and liver. Cooking though does destroy biotin so wherever possible, it’s best to try and eat some of these foods raw or only partially processed. Eating raw egg whites will also reduce biotin uptake.
So, unless you belong to one of the high-risk groups, you probably don’t have a biotin deficiency so don’t need take supplements with biotin in them. However, biotin supplements are readily available across the counter as components in multivitamins, vitamin B mixes or on its own.
Hair Loss Vitamins – Valuable Or A Waste Of Money?
Biotin is only one of a range of vitamins and minerals that are dubbed ‘mineral and hair loss vitamins’. Therefore it’s doubtful that just biotin on its own will provide much in the way of relief from this condition, medically called alopecia. Other important ‘hair loss vitamins’ include vitamins A, B (particularly B3 and B6), C, D, E and of course biotin (vitamin B7 or H). Folic acid, zinc, iron, omega 3 and the amino acids methionine, cysteine, cystine and tyrosine round out the list of the most essential hair loss vitamins and minerals.
Where more effects are seen after supplementation with biotin is in hair growth and regrowth. For this reason many manufacturers now include biotin in hair care products. However the most efficient way to take biotin for maximum biotin benefits, even with hair regrowth, remains orally either as part of a balanced diet or if you decide to go the supplements path, in an all-round or vitamin B supplement or as part of a hair loss vitamins formula.
To sum up – many of the ways biotin benefits our body are not yet fully understood or conclusively proven by research. Nonetheless enough scientific and anecdotal evidence does exist to verify that biotin is indeed crucial for many normal functions that we take for granted. Ironically though one of the most important benefits attributed to biotin, and the reason it’s also called vitamin H (H for hair) even though it’s part of the vitamin B group, is also one of the least supported by current research. Biotin, as part of a good healthy diet, does assist with hair growth but its inclusion in many hair loss vitamin formulas is not actually backed by concrete evidence that it does help stop or slow down hair loss.