Holistic Health – Nutrients A to Z: Biotin

The word “biotin” comes from the ancient Greek word “biotos” which means “life” or “sustenance.”

Biotin is also called vitamin H, vitamin B₇ or vitamin B₈.  It is a water-soluble vitamin and is involved in a wide range of metabolic processes, both in humans and in other organisms, primarily related to the utilization of fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids.  All B vitamins help the body to convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which is used to produce energy. B vitamins are needed for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver and they also help the nervous system function properly.

Biotin is also a crucial nutrient during pregnancy, as it is important for embryonic growth.

Most people get the biotin they need from eating a healthy diet, but there have been many claims that getting more biotin can regulate your blood sugar, promote healthy hair, skin, and nails, and help pregnant moms have healthier babies. How much biotin is enough, where can you get it, and what can it really do for you?

Natural sources of Biotin 

Biotin can also be found in several foods, including:

  • bananas
  • brewer’s yeast
  • brown rice
  • cauliflower
  • egg yolk
  • milk
  • mushrooms
  • nut butters
  • nuts, like almonds, peanuts, pecans, and walnuts
  • organ meats (liver, kidney)
  • soybeans and other legumes
  • whole grains and cereals

Because food-processing techniques like cooking can render biotin ineffective, raw or less-processed versions of these foods contain more active biotin.

It is always best to get nutrients from fresh natural sources. If you are unable to get enough biotin naturally, a supplement may be suggested by your doctor. Remember that supplements are not monitored by the FDA for safety, purity, dose, or quality, so research your brands before you buy as they are not all the same.

Recommended daily allowance 

Between 30 and 100 micrograms (mcg) per day of biotin is often recommended for adolescents and adults.

Because it’s water-soluble, extra biotin will simply pass through your body when you urinate. While most people can handle biotin supplements, some people report mild side effects like nausea and digestive issues. There are no known toxicity symptoms associated with too much biotin.

Biotin Deficiency

Biotin deficiency in humans is rare but can be brought on by prolonged consumption of raw eggs because raw egg whites contain an antimicrobial protein (avidin) that tightly binds with biotin and prevents its absorption. 

Biotin deficiency symptoms include:

  • fingernails a pale color, pale complexion
  • hair loss, brittle hair
  • irregular heartbeat
  • loss of skin pigment
  •  mental depression
  •  muscular pains
  •  nausea
  •  poor appetite
  •  shiny skin, dry and scaly
  •  sleeplessness
  •  tongue purplish-red, swollen & painful 

Supplementary range:  50 to 110 mg daily

Stay safe, eat well, and keep healthy

by Janice Buckler