Most of us are familiar with supplements. They come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. Since doctors generally prescribe certain dosages to us, we don’t give them too much thought before we pop them in.
One such supplement that we’re familiar with but don’t know too much of is biotin. And, if you take supplements for it, or have a deficiency in it, it’s worth knowing everything there is to it.
What Is Biotin?
Biotin is an important component of the enzymes that break down fats, carbohydrates, and other substances in the body. This water-soluble B vitamin is found in small amounts in various foods.1 The fact that it’s water soluble makes it important for people to supplement with it every day since it isn’t stored in the body.2
Biotin plays a key role in energy metabolism, fat synthesis, amino acid metabolism, cell signaling, and glycogen synthesis. Needless to say that deficiency in this vitamin leads to a host of health disorders.3
What Is Biotin Deficiency?
Biotin deficiency is a nutritional disorder that can be potentially hazardous to health. Although extremely rare in Americans, considering the fact that biotin is widely distributed in foods and is only required in small amounts, certain people might be at risk of developing this deficiency.4 These people include
- Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers
- Alcohol addicts
- People with “Biotinidase deficiency”
Additionally, people who consume too many raw egg whites might be at risk for this deficiency. This is because protein content in egg whites inhibits biotin absorption.5
Symptoms Of Biotin Deficiency
Despite the condition being rare, certain symptoms can point to biotin deficiency.6 These include
- Thinning of the hair (often with loss of hair color)
- Red scaly rash around the eyes, nose, and mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Abnormal heart reactions
- Cracked sore tongue
- Pale or grey skin
- Depression, listlessness, and hallucinations
- Tingling in the arms and legs
- High levels of acid in the blood and urine
- Brittle nails
- Pink eye
In children, biotin deficiency causes weak muscle tone, sluggishness, and delayed development. Fortunately, this form of deficiency can be treated easily.7 8
Treatment Options For Biotin Deficiency
Biotin deficiency can be treated with the help of food or supplements. When it comes to food, cauliflower, egg yolks, peanuts, liver, chicken, yeast, and mushrooms are good sources of biotin.9 Additionally, one can also try fortified foods. An advantage of opting for natural sources is that along with biotin, you’d get several other vitamins, minerals, dietary fats, and dietary fiber.10
Alternatively, you could opt for supplements. But, be sure to consult a professional before you do. This is because biotin supplements might interact with other medications, especially antiseizure medicines and other nutritional supplements. The recommended amount of biotin is different for different people, but on an average, adults are required to have 30 mcg of it every day.11 Although generally used to treat biotin deficiency, some research states that there might be benefits to its consumption.
Benefits Of Biotin
It’s important to remember that biotin supplements shouldn’t be consumed without the approval of a professional. And, that any benefits listed so far have very little research to back them up.12Having said that, some benefits that are discussed in relation to biotin consumption are
- Stronger nails: A few studies state that biotin increases the thickness of fingernails and toenails in people with brittle nails.13
- Relief from diabetic nerve pain: Biotin consumption might reduce nerve pain in people with diabetes.
- Increased hair thickness: Preliminary evidence suggests that a combination of biotin and zinc might promote hair growth and reduce hair loss.
- Lowers blood sugar: Few studies state that biotin and chromium together might lower blood sugar in people with diabetes, who don’t respond to prescription medicines.14
Certain studies have indicated that high doses of biotin have improved a rare hair disorder in children and skin rash in infants.15
Generally, if you’ve been prescribed a B complex supplement, you will have adequate amounts of biotin in your body. But, if you do notice any of the above symptoms of deficiency, do consult a professional at the earliest.
|↑1, ↑6, ↑12||Biotin. US National Library Of Medicine.|
|↑2||Biotin. National Institutes Of Health.|
|↑3, ↑5, ↑8, ↑10||Vitamin B. Victoria State Government.|
|↑4||Biotin Fact Sheet for Consumers. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.|
|↑7, ↑9, ↑11, ↑15||Biotin Fact Sheet for Consumers. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.|
|↑13||Hochman, L. G., R. K. Scher, and M. S. Meyerson. “Brittle nails: response to daily biotin supplementation.” Cutis 51, no. 4 (1993): 303-305.|
|↑14||Xiang, X., Y. Liu, X. Zhang, W. Zhang, and Z. Wang. “Effects of biotin on blood glucose regulation in type 2 diabetes rat model.” Wei sheng yan jiu= Journal of hygiene research 44, no. 2 (2015): 185-9.|