Biotin also known as vitamin B7 in the English-speaking nomenclature.It acts as a coenzyme for the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids and glucose.This means that when we take foods that are sources of fats, proteins or carbohydrates, Biotin must necessarily be present in the body.
Biotin: 7 benefits for hair, nails and skin
Biotin also plays a fundamental role in maintaining a young and attractive appearance, supporting the health of skin, nails and hair and is sometimes renamed Vitamin H, from Haar and Haut, two words of German origin that mean “hair and skin”. It is commonly added to beauty products for hair and skin, although it is believed that absorption through the skin is not particularly effective and that ingestion is essential for obtaining the best benefits.
- Keeps skin, nails and healthy hair
Vitamin B7 is necessary to maintain healthy skin, hair and nails and when you find yourself facing a deficiency, the symptoms that occur are thinning, fragility and hair breakage or dermatitis that make the skin dry and irritated. You will notice that Biotin is part of many creams and cosmetics. Although helpful, it remains more efficient when consumed through food rather than topically applied.
According to some studies, taking high doses of biotin can help in the treatment of weak nails and hair. Curiously, the benefits of Vitamin B7 were discovered just when some horses were treated with Biotin to correct flaking problems and the fragility of their hooves. ( 1 )
Other benefits of biotin include protecting the skin from acne, fungal infections, skin rashes and severe dryness and flaking. ( 2 , 3)
- Support for the cardiovascular system
B vitamins defend against the most common causes of heart disease including inflammation, arteriosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes. Vitamin B7 in combination with Cromopò can help improve blood cholesterol levels according to some studies. Biotin has been shown to have positive results in increasing good cholesterol and decreasing bad cholesterol, especially in diabetic patients susceptible to diseases of the cardiovascular system.
- Important for metabolism
Biotin regulates the fundamental gene expression for the transport of metabolism functions. ( 4 )
Vitamin B7 together with other B vitamins is necessary for the conversion of food that is taken into usable energy that supports metabolic function. Vitamin B7 deals with this in several ways: ( 5 )
- It converts glucose from carbohydrate and sugar sources into usable fuel which is the body’s preferred source of energy.
- It helps the body to use amino acids from proteins to facilitate certain body functions.
- Activates fatty acids contained in foods that contain animal oils or fats. Once the body can use macronutrients from food as energy, the metabolic activity can take place in a healthy and efficient way. Vitamin B7 also improves the use of glucose and this makes it essential in cases of type 2 diabetes, nowadays very common in our society. Without a sufficient dose of Biotin in the body, the symptoms of a metabolic slowdown can present themselves in the form of chronic fatigue, digestive problems, low energy levels, weight gain, possible development of diabetes, changes in appetite and changes in mood.
- Needed to repair or build tissues and muscles
When a tissue or muscle is damaged, B-group vitamins such as B7 work to reconstruct muscle tone and tissues that lead to regrowth. ( 6 )
In addition, the B vitamins help reduce the inflammatory process that can lead to pain and discomfort in the joints and muscles and therefore to difficulty in movement. An even more serious consequence of a deficiency of vitamin B7 and other B vitamins is the interruption of inadequate growth and development in the fetus and newborns, which is why the intake of sufficient amounts of Biotin and Vitamin B more generally during pregnancy is crucial.
- It protects brain function and fights cognitive decline
Biotin protects the health of the nervous system thanks to its role in neurotransmission activity. ( 7 ) Actually all the B vitamins influence memory and defend against degenerative cognitive diseases of the age like Alzheimer’s or senile dementia.
Due to its role in the synthesis of hormones related to mood, the B group vitamins such as Vitamin B7 help to set positive thinking, energy and concentration .
- Useful for the thyroid
Group B vitamins such as Vitamin B7 are necessary for adequate thyroid function and defense against adrenal fatigue. The thyroid and adrenal glands are fundamental glands responsible for various body states including appetite, sleep, perception of pain , mood and energy. ( 8 )
A deficiency of B vitamins can result in complications affecting the thyroid and adrenal gland and this would create symptoms such as weight loss or gain, sleep disturbances and fatigue.
- Blood sugar balance
Biotin, especially when combined with chromium, helps lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. This is especially useful for those whose sugar levels are not well controlled by medicines.
Biotin is beneficial for blood glucose levels as it facilitates the activity of insulin, which is the key hormone that brings blood sugars back into balance. ( 9 ) A better insulin response helps to reduce the risk of hyperglycemia which can lead to prediabetic states, type 2 diabetes, body weight gain and some metabolic syndromes.
It also helps in decreasing the enzymatic action that stimulates the production of glucose in the liver, so less sugar is released into the bloodstream. For this reason a deficiency of Vitamin B7 has been correlated to a glucose tolerance handicap and to its reduction in use. Biotin can also reduce symptoms in pre-existing cases of diabetes, including nerve pain.
The effects of biotin deficiency
A deficiency of Vitamin B7 is quite rare in those countries where a sufficient amount of caloric foods is generally consumed. This happens for three reasons: the recommended daily dose is relatively low; many common foods are a source of Biotin and researchers believe that the bacteria in our digestive / intestinal tract are able to produce a certain amount of Biotin independently. ( 10 )
So what causes a Biotin deficiency? Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that it travels through blood vessels and any excess or unused quantity can easily be eliminated through the urine. The body therefore does not accumulate reserves of vitamin B7 and it is very difficult for it to be consumed excessively. Thanks to this, toxic levels of Biotin in the body are very rare. However this also means that it is necessary to take adequate daily amounts of Biotin to keep the supply for the body always sufficient. (11)
As explained in an important study on Biotin carried out by Dr. Janos Zempleni, there are three proteins that allow the body to maintain a correct amount of Biotin inside it (a process called homeostasis). These three proteins are the biotinidase, the sodium – dependent multivitamin transporter and the holocarboxylase-synthetase. They work synergistically to ensure that Biotin is released from the food we ingest and absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract. ( 12 ) Some other proteins can interfere with this process: avidin among others is a glycoprotein that specifically binds biotin and is found for example in raw egg whites.
Below we list a number of risk factors that increase the chances of developing a vitamin B7 deficiency:
- Excessive alcohol use
- Long-term consumption of antiepileptic drugs
- Excessive consumption of raw egg whites
- Problems of intestinal absorption or severe digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and leaky gut syndrome.
- Prolonged use of antibiotics
Although a lack of Biotin is very unlikely, some of the symptoms that accompany it are as follows:
- Nervous damage
- Lack of energy and chronic fatigue
- Dry and irritated skin
- Joint and muscle pains
- Cognitive problems
- Tingling in the limbs
- Humoral changes
- Hair loss or brittle hair
- Intestinal and digestive tract problems
Vitamin B7 or Biotin is available as part of an integration of the B group of vitamins, also called complex for adrenal support or supplementation for the energy complex. These types of supplements generally include a broad spectrum of B vitamins including Vitamin B6, B12, B2, riboflavin and vitamin B3 (or Niacin) .
Together, the B vitamins support the metabolic activity, brain function, nerve signals and many other primary functions and their teamwork makes the integration results much better.
If you are planning to start Vitamin B supplementation, keep in mind that not all supplements are the same. To get the best benefits from Biotin, buy only high quality multivitamins or supplements developed directly from real food and that do not contain toxins and additives.
These supplements are produced on the basis of different combinations of nutrients that work together synergistically and therefore similar to how the foods they come from would work.For those looking for a complete and reliable multivitamin, we recommend Vibracell, a complete, safe and reliable supplement.
Where to find biotin: food list
There are actually 8 different forms of Biotin, but only one is naturally produced and is the one found in foods. This type of Biotin is called “D-Biotin” and is believed to be the only one with full vitamin capacity. This is just another excellent example of why it is always better to get vitamins and minerals from real food sources rather than supplements since they contain nutrients that nature intends to use in the body.
In 2004, when researchers examined 51 types of food to assess the various levels of Biotin, they discovered that the amount in each food tended to vary by so much that the authorities decided not to list food and numbers. However the following list includes the foods tested with the highest availability of Biotin, although you will still see a range of values: ( 13 )
- Egg (1 whole): 13-25 milligrams
- Cheese (try the organic goat cheese – about 28 grams): 0.4-2 milligrams
- Yeast (one tablespoon): 1.4-14 milligrams
- Whole wheat bread (one slice): 0.2-6 milligrams
- Salmon (85 grams): 4-5 milligrams
- Avocado (1 whole): 2-6 milligrams
- Raspberries (approx. 240gr): 0.2-2 milligrams
- Cauliflower (approx. 240gr): 0.2-2 milligrams
- Liver (85 grams – cooked): 27-35 milligrams
In addition, other types of berries, mushrooms and other types of fish are considered good sources of Biotin.
On the other hand, it is interesting to discover that vitamin B7 is found only in egg yolk and never in the albumen, so those who discard the egg yolk in favor of the white only not only completely lack vitamin B but ingest a food which has the ability to destroy its effects, possibly creating a deficiency of Biotin. (14)
Contraindications and side effects
Vitamin B7 overdosage is not considered a threat and many, if any, cases of Vitamin B7 toxicity have been reported.Vitamin B7 levels can be compromised if you are taking anti-epileptic drugs, oral antibiotics or if you have a digestive tract disorder that could destroy the normal intestinal bacterial flora.
Some drugs, such as those prescribed for the treatment of Acne, can reduce the activity of Vitamin B7. Even excessively high doses of other B vitamins, such as pantothenic acid, can lower the level of vitamin B7 in the body.It is therefore generally a good rule not to overdose any supplements and follow the recommended doses. For any doubt it is always advisable to consult your doctor.