Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that is a part of the vitamin B family. It is also known as vitamin B7. Your body needs biotin to help convert certain nutrients into energy. It also plays an important role in the health of your hair, skin, and nails.
Biotin acts as a coenzyme in the body that’s needed for the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids and glucose. This means that when we eat foods that are sources of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, biotin must be present in order to convert and use these macronutrients for bodily energy to carry out physical activities and for proper psychological functioning.
If you think you are not getting enough biotin from your diet, or if you are just looking to up your dosage, supplements may be an option.
Biotin deficiency is rare as the biotin you get from your diet is enough when you consume enough calories and food in general. However many people are increasing their intake in hopes of additional benefits. If you are experiencing hair thinning or hair loss, biotin may assist in regrowth. There is some research to suggest that increased biotin intake can improve overall hair quality, including thickness and shine. Most people will not see any noticeable benefits until several weeks or months late. For best results, be consistent in your intake.
Healthy hair begins with a healthy scalp and, like the rest of the body, it is dependent upon a healthy diet and lifestyle. Biotin is actually the key nutrient for preventing hair loss and, according to scientists; it promotes growth of strong nails and hair. A deficiency in biotin will lead to a dry scalp with the associated problems of dandruff, a flaky scalp and dull, brittle hair.
Causes of Biotin Deficiency
People with health conditions that impact how the body absorbs nutrients, or who are on certain medications, can be at risk of developing biotin deficiency.
A deficiency can lead to:
- Hair loss
- A scaly red rash around the eyes, nose, mouth, and genitals
- Cracks in the corner of the mouth
- Sore tongue that may be magenta in color
- Dry eyes
- Loss of appetite
Other symptoms may include:
- Lethargy and fatigue
- Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
- Impaired immune function and increased susceptibility to infections
Those who have difficulty absorbing biotin and other nutrients due to chronic conditions such as Crohn’s disease may benefit from biotin supplements.
Increase your intake of biotin through foods.
Biotin occurs naturally in many foods. Wheat germ, whole-grain cereals, whole wheat bread, eggs, dairy products, peanuts, soya nuts, Swiss chard, salmon, and chicken are all sources of biotin.
Biotin seems to be safe and well-tolerated, even at fairly high levels. The maximum safe dose of biotin is unknown. Biotin supplements do not carry a risk of toxicity or overdose because is a water-soluble vitamin, so any extra biotin in your body will flush out through your urine. Most people can take biotin supplements without any adverse effects, but minor side effects are possible. These include nausea, cramping and diarrhea.
It is important for individuals experiencing unexpected or unusual hair loss to speak to a doctor. In most cases, biotin deficiencies are not the cause of hair loss, but they may be a contributing factor.