Biotin belongs to the B vitamins and is, therefore, also known as vitamin B7. It was discovered more than a hundred years ago, but its important role in metabolism was only investigated or recognized much later.
B vitamins are important for the heart and circulation, digestion, nerves, and metabolic function. The body needs vitamin B7 for the metabolism of glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids. In addition, it also plays an important role in your skin, nails, and healthy hair.
Biotin is also known as vitamin H, which can be derived from the skin and hair. Vitamin H can be found in numerous beauty care products, although the skin cannot absorb it very well and must be taken for it to have all the benefits.
Biotin deficiency symptoms
Vitamin B7 is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that the body excretes the amounts that are not consumed or needed through the urine. Therefore, reserves do not accumulate so vitamin H must be taken daily to supply the body.
People who take seizure medications or antibiotics for a long time and people who suffer from indigestion are at increased risk for biotin deficiency.
Lack of vitamin H manifests itself in dry, irritated skin, loss of hair or brittle hair, chronic fatigue, lack of energy, digestive problems, nerve damage, muscle pain, mood swings, or even tingling in the extremities.
Causes of biotin deficiency
Certain health problems can cause the body not to have enough vitamin B7. Studies show that vitamin H content can decrease during pregnancy, and hormonal changes after birth often lead to hair loss.
Valproic acid, which is used to treat epilepsy, can also inhibit the enzyme biotinidase, which is necessary to release vitamin B7. This results in a lack of vitamin B7, which could cause skin irritation or hair loss.
Antibiotics also reduce the amount of vitamin B7 synthesized and can, therefore, lead to deficiency. A deficiency can also occur in people who have diabetes or who are on dialysis.
Other causes are:
- Hereditary diseases: Certain metabolic disorders, also known as carboxylase deficiency, can lead to a deficiency of vitamin B7.
- Foods High in Carbohydrates: Vitamin B7 is found in high amounts in cereals that contain carbohydrates, but the body cannot absorb them particularly well. People who eat mainly cereal products are at risk of developing a vitamin B7 deficiency.
- Malabsorption: If parts of the small intestine or stomach are removed, biotin can no longer be absorbed, which also leads to a deficiency.
- Smoking: Studies show that cigarette smoking can also lead to insufficient vitamin B7.
Biotin deficiency manifests itself over time through increased hair loss, brittle nails, and sensitive, slightly flaky skin. The weakness of this important substance favors general weakness, muscle pain, metabolic disorders, as well as nervous disorders, and susceptibility to infection.
The correct dose
To avoid a deficiency, the following daily intake of vitamin H is recommended:
- Babies: 5 mcg a day
- Babies between 4 and 12 months: 5 to 10 mcg per day.
- Children between 1 and 10 years old: 10 to 20 mcg per day.
- Children between 10 and 15 years old: 20 to 35 mcg per day.
- Youth: 25 mcg per day
- Adults 19 years and older: 30 to 60 mcg per day.
- Pregnant or lactating women: 30 to 60 mcg per day
Biotin as a dietary supplement
Biotin is often part of dietary supplements for B vitamins. They are generally vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.
Together they contribute to the support of brain functions, metabolic activity, and nerve signals. Since vitamins work together, it is advisable to take the full spectrum of B vitamins to achieve good results.
Biotin tablets or capsules are often offered in drugstores or health food stores, and they also contain other active ingredients such as zinc. With the help of zinc, hair loss can be prevented, can also strengthen the nails, and provide moisture to the skin.
Zinc also helps promote cell growth, increase concentration, and is also important to our immune system.
Another active ingredient that is often contained in biotin capsules or tablets is silicon. However, silicon should not be taken for a long time because researchers suspect that it can harm the kidneys.
What foods contain vitamin B7?
A total of eight different forms of vitamin H are known, but only one of them is used in the diet. This form is called D-biotin, which is found mainly in whole wheat bread, cauliflower, raspberries, avocado, cheese, salmon, yeast, eggs, and liver.
Other sources of vitamin B7 are mushrooms and other types of berries and fish. In eggs, it is only contained in the yolk. Studies have shown that egg white can even reduce the mode of action of B vitamins.
In the list below you will find some examples of foods and their biotin content:
- Bananas: 100 g of banana contains approximately 5 micrograms of vitamin B7
- Mushrooms: 100 g of mushrooms contain about 16 micrograms of vitamin B7
- Liver: 100 g of liver supplies our body with approximately 100 micrograms of vitamin B7, which also meets the daily requirement
- Brown rice: 100 g of brown rice contains about 13 micrograms of vitamin B7
- Avocado: 100 g of an avocado provides approximately 10 micrograms of vitamin B7
Unlike other vitamins, vitamin B7 is not destroyed by cooking, making it heat resistant so food can be fried, baked, or steamed. However, it should be noted that storage for a longer period of time can very well influence the dosage.
Almost all foods contain small amounts of the vitamin. Our intestinal bacteria can also produce biotin. Whole grains, legumes, nuts, yeast, egg yolk, and liver are particularly rich in vitamin H.
A healthy person eating a normal healthy diet can easily achieve the recommended 30-60 microgram intake.
The effect of vitamin B7
Vitamin H is necessary to keep nails, hair, and skin healthy. So those who suffer from a deficiency generally have brittle nails and fine hair or dry skin.
For this reason, vitamin B7 is part of numerous hair treatments and facial creams, but, as previously mentioned, taking vitamin H in the form of tablets or capsules is more effective.
Studies have shown that vitamin B7 can make weak hair shine again and protect skin from dryness, rashes, or yeast infections.
Researchers from Harvard University discovered in 2000 that vitamin B7 plays an important role in healthy hair because it cares for hair follicles. An essential factor for this is the metabolism of fatty acids, as this is mixed due to the lack of vitamin B7, which further promotes hair loss.
Hair growth can also be promoted with the help of vitamin B7. Studies show that a combination of GHK-Cu tripeptide and vitamin B7 can achieve particularly good results.
In this context, however, it should be noted that there are several causes of hair loss. Vitamin B7 can be used primarily for diffuse hair loss, but a doctor should be consulted in advance who can determine what type of hair loss is present. For example, vitamins generally do not help with circular hair loss, as this occurs due to an alteration in the immune system.
A hallmark of brittle nails is grooves and cracks or thickenings, which is why women are affected more often than men. The strength of a nail is mainly due to the sulfur content, which stabilizes the proteins found in the so-called nail plate.
Therefore, the sulfur content in people suffering from brittle nails is generally too low, with a low sulfur content being observed, especially in the elderly.
Broken nails not only have negative effects on self-esteem, but many people also complain of pain, for example, when they wear closed shoes. Vitamin B7 helps strengthen nails and supports the body in the production of the protein keratin.
Vitamin B7 is also involved in the production of elastin and collagen.
Furthermore, vitamin B7 is an important nutrient that helps keep skin healthy and heal wounds. People with vitamin B7 deficiency often also suffer from skin conditions such as eczema, conjunctivitis, or Leiner’s disease.
Research shows that skin problems are probably also associated with altered fatty acid metabolism. The body needs fats to maintain cell function.
Skin cells, in particular, depend on fat production because they die quickly, and, therefore, must constantly be renewed. If vitamin B7 is added to food, the complexion can improve. The effect can be further supported by taking manganese.
Since vitamin B7 nourishes the nails and hair from the roots, the application must be carried out for a longer period so that the successes are also visible. If you want to improve the quality of your hair, you must take the vitamin for at least five to ten months.
Since nails also grow relatively slowly, a period of around three to eight months should be planned for the treatment of brittle nails.
Vitamin B7 and metabolism
Furthermore, biotin supports our metabolism and ensures that the food we eat is converted into energy. For example, it helps the body use protein amino acids or glucose for sugar and carbohydrates and therefore contributes to healthy metabolic activity.
In the case of a deficiency, on the other hand, the metabolism is usually slow, and those affected suffer from tiredness, low energy level, and digestive problems, and often even gain weight.
Biotin is necessary to control fat and protein metabolism. Within the cell, in the cell nucleus, it also ensures that genetic information is read correctly and transferred to the cell’s working units.
The body also needs the vitamin to be able to produce creatine. This is the substance from which hair, nails, and the horny layer of the skin are formed.
Supports the nervous system
Vitamin H supports our nervous system in the transmission of nerve signals and also plays an important role in the activity of neurotransmitters.
Along with the other B vitamins, it influences memory function and protects against functional cognitive losses, such as those that occur with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Vitamin B7 can also be used to increase concentration and promote energy.
Biotin and blood sugar levels
Combining biotin with chromium can also lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes because the vitamin supports insulin activity. Also, taking vitamin B7 produces fewer enzymes that stimulate glucose production.
This also means that less sugar enters the bloodstream. Biotin protects, along with other B vitamins, also against the appearance of heart diseases such as arteriosclerosis, heart attacks, or strokes.
Chromium and Vitamin B7 also improve cholesterol levels by lowering bad LDL cholesterol and promoting good HDL cholesterol for the body. Biotin is also important for the correct activity of the thyroid because it offers protection against the so-called adrenal fatigue syndrome.
Thyroid and adrenal glands
The thyroid or adrenal gland is responsible for various bodily ailments such as energy, the perception of pain, sleep, or hunger. A lack of biotin or vitamin B can cause problems in the adrenal glands and the thyroid gland. Therefore, sleep disorders, fatigue, or weight loss or increase.
Build muscle and body tissue
Vitamin H also helps the body maintain or grow body tissue and build muscle. Additionally, the vitamin can also reduce inflammation, which can cause joint or muscle pain.
Since a lack of vitamin B7 can also inhibit growth, it is very important, especially during pregnancy , to get enough vitamin.
Biotin and side effects
So far, there are no known side effects of taking vitamin B7. However, interactions can occur, nullifying the effectiveness of the vitamin.
There is an interaction especially when crude protein is consumed in large quantities since the avidin protein it contains, binds very strongly to vitamin H so that the human body can no longer absorb it. It should also be noted that taking vitamin B7 can often cause thyroid levels to be inaccurate.
So far, there are no known negative effects of an overdose of vitamin B7. Therefore, the upper limit for taking the vitamin is also not clearly defined. However, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment recommends as a precaution not to exceed 180 micrograms per day.
Taking medications, eating large amounts of raw eggs, or having some disease in the digestive tract can make it difficult for the biotin in food to be absorbed and used by your body. An extreme diet, dialysis treatment, loss of appetite after surgery, or the condition of very old patients can also lead to a deficiency.
The vitamin requirement is often increased in competitive athletes, smokers, and when taking antibiotics that harm intestinal bacteria. An unfavorable diet can also be a cause of biotin deficiency.
We all want beautiful nails and hair, as well as healthy and firm skin. Biotin (vitamin B7), which is often referred to as a beauty vitamin, can help develop hair and nails and make matte hair shine again.
Vitamin B7 supports the nervous system and various metabolic processes in the body. For example, it promotes the breakdown of amino acids and the production of fatty acids and is also involved in the energy supply of reserves.
Vitamin B7 is not only found in numerous foods but can also be taken in the form of biotin supplements that are normally very well tolerated by the body.
By eating a balanced diet, you can generally prevent a lack of vitamin B7. Some patients, diabetics, and pregnant women have an increased need for vitamin B7, which can be counteracted by taking the appropriate nutritional supplements.