Biotin is capable of enhancing your beauty even more than the most expensive cosmetics treatments. A deficiency does not only affect the skin and hair, but also our energy. This is due to the fact that it triggers alterations in the blood sugar levels as well as food cravings.
- 1. What is biotin?
- 2. What are the symptoms of a biotin deficiency?
- 3. Recommended daily dose
- 4. Biotin supplements
- 5. Foods that contain biotin
- 6. Benefits and effects of biotin
- 7. Causes of a deficiency
- 8. Biotinidase deficiency
- 9. Medicines to treat epilepsy and biotinidase
- 10. Pancreaticoduodenectomy
- 11. Who is particularly prone to suffering a biotin deficiency?
- 12. Symptoms of a biotin deficiency
- 13. A biotin deficiency can increase the risk of defects in the fetus
- 14. Biotinidase deficiency
- 15. According to the experts, biotin is crucial for our hair
- 16. Biotin prevents hair loss and stimulates its growth
- 17. Biotin improves the nails
- 18. It keeps the skin healthy
- 19. Biotin shortens the wound healing process
- 20. Biotin interactions
- 21. Side effects of biotin
- 22. What do the experts think about biotin:
- 23. Studies and References
- 24. Related Entries:
What is biotin?
Also known as vitamin B7, it is a water soluble vitamin that belongs to the B group.
B vitamins are necessary for a proper functioning of the metabolism, never, digestion heart and blood flow.
Biotin acts as a coenzyme that is necessary for the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids and glucose. That is, we will need it whenever we eat foods containing fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Otherwise, we would not be able to obtain energy from these macronutrients in order to perform physical and mental activities.
Biotin also plays an important role in the health and beauty of the hair, nails and skin. This can help us look younger and more attractive. That is why it is commonly used in the world of cosmetics, especially for hair products. However, it is not used for skincare since the absorption is not as good as with the hair.
What are the symptoms of a biotin deficiency?
Biotin is water-soluble, which means that it flows in the bloodstream. We will excrete any excess through the urine.
The body does not have biotin reserves, which is why we have to take a proper supply of this substance every day. Who is at risk of suffering a biotin deficiency? 
- Those who take anticonvulsant medicines for long periods of time
- People who take antibiotics for long periods of time
- All those who suffer digestive problems or serious digestive disorders: Crohn’s disease, celiac disease or Leaky-Gut syndrome
The most frequent symptoms of a biotin deficiency are:
- Dry and irritated skin
- Fragile hair or hair loss
- Lack of energy or chronic fatigue
- Digestive tract problems
- Muscle soreness
- Nervous problems
- Mood swings
- Tingling sensation in the limbs
- Cognitive deterioration
Recommended daily dose
The nutritionists recommended the following daily intake:
- 5 mcg daily for babies
- 5-10 mcg daily for babies between 4-12 months
- 10-20 mcg daily for children between 1-10 years
- 20-35 mcg daily for children between 10-15 years
- 25 mcg for adolescents
- 30-60 mcg for adults older than 19
- 30-60 mcg for pregnant and lactating women
It is mainly found among the B complex dietary supplements. Some of them are vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin B2 and vitamin B3 (niacin).
This complex supports a proper metabolism, the brain function, immune system and other basic processes. Moreover, they work better together, which is why it is advisable to combine it to get the best results.
Foods that contain biotin
There are eight different forms of biotin. However, only one is found naturally in foods. We are talking about D-biotin.
Its main sources:
- whole grain wheat bread
As well as berries, mushrooms and some fish species.
Benefits and effects of biotin
1. It stimulates the health of the hair, skin and nails
Biotin is indispensable to keep the hair, skin and nails healthy. Therefore, a deficiency can produce dermatitis, fragile hair or dry and irritated skin. Due to this, many facial creams, capillary treatments and beauty products add biotin to their ingredients.
These benefits were first discovered for the first time when horses were treat with biotin to fix problems with their hooves. Moreover, it also helps to prevent acne, skin rashes and skin dryness, as well as fungal infections.
2. It helps to keep the metabolism healthy
Biotin regulates the gene function, which is crucial for the metabolism. 
Together with other B vitamins, biotin is necessary to transform the food we eat into useful energy for the metabolism.
It contributes to this process in different ways:
- Transforming the glucose from carbs and sugar in energy for the body
- Stimulating the use of amino acids from proteins to perform many bodily functions
- Activating the fatty acids from foods such as oils or animal fats. 
A healthy and correct metabolic function is only possible when the body transforms the macronutrients from food into energy.
Biotin also improves the metabolism and the use of glucose. The latter is extremely beneficial nowadays, since type 2 diabetes is quite common. If the body does not have enough biotin, we may experience the following effects: slow metabolism, low energy, fatigue, weight gain, digestive problems, onset of diabetes, appetite change, bad mood…
3. It protects the brain function against a cognitive dysfunction
Biotin is beneficial for the health of the nervous system. The reason why is because it plays an essential role in the synopsis and the neurotransmitter activity.
All the B vitamins work together in the functioning of the memory. Moreover, the prevent age-related cognitive dysfunction, like in the case of Alzheimer or dementia.
4. It helps to control glucose intolerance and regulates the blood sugar levels
It has been proven that biotin, especially when combined with chromium, helps to lower the blood sugar levels in diabetic people. This is especially useful in those who have a high blood sugar level that cannot be easily controlled.
This vitamin reduces the production of enzymes that increase the glucose in the liver and release less sugar to the bloodstream. That is the reason why a biotin deficiency is related to an altered glucose tolerance as well as a lower use of glucose. Both are risk factors for diabetes.
It also helps to relieve the symptoms of diabetes including the pain and the nervous alterations.
5. It contributes to keeping the cardiovascular system healthy
Group B vitamins, such as vitamin B7, play an important role when it comes to protecting the body against cardiovascular diseases, including: inflammation, atherosclerosis (or the formation of plaque in the arteries), heart attacks and strokes.
6. It supports the adrenal and thyroid function
B vitamins, such as biotin, are necessary for the thyroid gland that protects us against the adrenal fatigue syndrome. The thyroid and adrenal glands are “master glands” that are responsible for producing hunger, sleep, smell perception, mood and energy.
A vitamin B deficiency can cause thyroid and adrenal problems, resulting in fatigue, sudden weight loss or gain, sleep disorders and other issues.
7. It is necessary to build and repair the muscles and tissues
Biotin contributes to the growth and maintenance of the tissues, including building and repairing the muscles. When the tissues or muscles are broken down, B vitamins make sure that the muscles and tissues are rebuilt. This results in their regeneration and growth.
B vitamins also help to relieve the inflammation, muscle or joint pain and difficulty to move. A lack of biotin and other vitamins becomes a serious problem when it affects the proper growth of fetuses and babies. This is one of the reasons why it is particularly important to take enough biotin during pregnancy as well as the rest of vitamins.
A biotin deficiency
There are certain risk factors and physical dysfunctions that can lead to a deficiency. Some people are at a higher risk if they suffer a chronic biotin deficiency.
Interestingly enough, this intense binding between the avidin and biotin is used in tests against cancer to identify specific molecular groups.  If the enzymes are lost, the body needs to absorb the biotin and the process (like in the case of biotinidase deficiency and Holocarboxylase synthetase deficiency) can have serious consequences for our health (loss of hearing, mental mental disability). However, a dose of biotin of 5 or 10 micro grams from a nutritional supplement is enough to avoid the damage and counter the deficiency.
Apart from its beneficial properties for health, it can also prevent and treat certain diseases and problems such as: 
- Brittle nails (based on the successful treatment for horse hooves diseases)
- Treatments against cancer (brain tumors, breast cancer, intestinal cancer and lymphoma)
- Hair loss
- Heart diseases
- Immune system disorders
- Skin diseases
- Wound healing
Causes of a deficiency
Certain health problems can cause a biotin deficiency which can cause some symptoms, like hair loss. The clinical studies have proven that a pregnancy can lower its levels in the body significantly.
Moreover, the hormone changes after the labor can trigger hair loss between a 30% and 40% of women. Breastfeeding for long periods can also be related to a lack of biotin and other nutrients.  The studies have proven that biotin can slow down hair loss and stimulate its growth: 
Biotinidase is a necessary enzyme that releases the biotin from the protein to which it is bound. This makes it available for our body. A biotinidase deficiency triggers hair loss and serious neurological disorders. Nevertheless, we can prevent this with biotin supplementation so that we can stop the onset of certain symptoms caused by this genetic disorder.
In study carried out on this matter, a five month baby suffered convulsions several times a day and went into a coma. The doctors found out that the baby suffered a deficiency due to a biotinidase deficiency. Then, he was given 5mg of biotin and 25mg of vitamin B1 twice a day. The baby recovered completely in just three days. The parents were told to continue with this treatment on a daily basis. However, they stopped giving him biotin when he was six years old. Consequently, he had to be sent to the hospital with serious neurological diseases and a complete loss of hair.
Then, the boy was treated with 10mg of biotin and 50mg of vitamin B1 twice a day for six months. After this period, he began to walk and speak once again and his hair also grew back. Unfortunately, he could not recover from the partial loss of hearing caused by the nerve damage when the biotin treatment was stopped. 
Medicines to treat epilepsy and biotinidase
Valproic acid is used to treat epilepsy (VPA). According to studies, it can inhibit the production of biotinidase which is necessary to absorb biotin. The resulting deficiency can cause hair loss and skin irritation. In a clinical study conducted on 75 patients treated with VPA, the symptoms dropped after getting 10mg of biotin daily.
Biotin and zinc are important protein carriers for some micronutrients that are absorbed in the duodenum and the proximal jejunum. In another study a 16 year old patient had surgery to partially remove the pancreas along with the duodenum deficiency (pancreaticoduodenectomy). The patient suffered several symptoms, including a loss of hair in the entire body. Biotin and zinc supplementation managed to improve the symptoms. 
Who is particularly prone to suffering a biotin deficiency?
Even though we may think that a biotin deficiency is quite unusual, there are certain factors that can trigger this disease:
- Antibiotics: oral antibiotics can lower the amount of biotin that is synthesized by the intestinal bacteria. This can trigger a deficiency.
- Anticonvulsant: taking this type of medicines for long periods of time can increase the risk of suffering a deficiency.
- Diabetes: there is evidence that diabetes can trigger a deficiency.
- Dialysis: the biotin levels in patients who are being treated with dialysis can be lower than in healthy people.
- Eating raw eggs: doing this on a daily basis for several months can lead to a deficiency. Mainly because the avidin from the egg whites binds to biotin and prevents its absorption. On the other hand, eating boiled egg white can prevent a biotin deficiency. This is due to the fact that the heat destroys the chemical composition of avidin.
- Inherited metabolic disorders: usually called multiple carboxylase deficiency, can trigger a deficiency if they are not properly treated. 
- A high-carb diet: an important part of the biotin is found in carbohydrate-rich foods. However, it cannot be absorbed by the body if we do not eat meat, eggs and dairy products as well. 
- Inadequate intake: those who lose weight quickly and those who take medicines for long periods of time can experience a lack of biotin.
- Deficient absorption: those who have their stomach surgically removed or great parts of the small intestine (short bowel syndrome) cannot absorb biotin properly either. 
- Pregnancy: having low biotin levels is quite common among pregnant women. According to clinical studies, the percentage moves between a 30% and 70% of the pregnancies.
- Smoking: biotin breaks down faster when smoking.
Symptoms of a biotin deficiency
The symptoms can vary a lot, since biotin plays a role in different biochemical processes.
Some of the most frequent symptoms are:
- Delayed growth 
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Loss of hair or fragile hair
- Heart dysfunction
- There are more bacterial and fungal infections due to a deteriorated immune system
- Leiner’s disease
- Loss of appetite
- Hair discoloration
- Loss of hearing 
- Mental disabilities
- Muscle soreness
- Stiffness, tingling sensation in the arms, legs, hands and feet.
- Red skin rashes (around the eyes, mouth, nose and genitals); in general, the tests for Candida fungus infections tend to give positive results
- Convulsions and other neurological problems
- Irritated tongue
- Unusual smell in the urine
- Sight disorders
A biotin deficiency can increase the risk of defects in the fetus
The research points that a nutritional deficiency can produce defects in the fetus which can be avoided with a vitamin supplement. In a control study, the amount of severe congenital defects was 48% lower in women who took vitamin supplements when compared to those who were given a placebo.
Low biotin levels are quite common during pregnancy, from a 30% to 50% of the pregnancies. The biotin levels drop quickly during the pregnancy due to the body requirements during the growth of the fetus. There is a significant risk for the baby, even though the effects of these low levels do not trigger any remarkable symptom on the mother.
Almost a 100% of the experiments conducted on mice reported that a biotin deficiency did not have symptoms on the gestating mouse. However, the offspring had anomalies in the limbs.
Some researchers believe that these studies can encourage more clinical essays. This will help to determine the risk of the effects of those mothers who did not take biotin. Even if they did not experience any relevant clinical symptoms during the pregnancy. The intake of biotin daily is enough to prevent a lack in adult women, regardless if they are pregnant or not.
A biotinidase deficiency is a inherited disease that is caused by a lack of an enzyme. This is in charge of dissolving the biotin protein, which is chemically bound. Consequently, the body will not have enough biotin available.
This genetic disease can be total or partial, depending on the degree of the deficiency. In general, this disease is usually produced between birth and during the first ten years of age. In some countries, it is normal to perform biotinidase deficiency tests on newborns. A biotinidase deficiency becomes a disease when the biotinidase enzyme only reaches a 10% of its activity in healthy people. A partial biotinidase deficiency reaches between a 10% and 30%.
Most of the symptoms of this disease are relieved when taking from 5 to 10mg of biotin orally. Thus, it will be quickly and completely absorbed by the body. Children can experience some or all the following symptoms when a biotinidase deficiency is not properly treated:
- Alopecia (hair loss)
- Blurry vision
- Delayed growth
- Loss of hearing
- Muscle weakness
- Nervous system disorders
- Skin rashes
- Degenerative destruction in the bone marrow
- Fungal infections
The symptoms caused by a biotinidase deficiency are different to those produced by a biotin deficiency caused by other factors (like malnourishment). There is also neurological damage related to a biotinidase deficiency (such as an irreversible loss of hearing, sight problems). However, it is not produced by a biotin deficiency without genetic causes or due to a bad supply of holoxarboxylase enzyme.
According to the experts, biotin is crucial for our hair
In 2000, researchers at the University of Harvard stated that biotin plays an essential role in keeping our hair healthy.
In addition, the biotin molecule also contains sulfur and the cystine amino acid, which is very important for the hair.  Alopecia or hair loss have a devastating effect at psychological level. Usually, this is something that mostly men experience. However, many women can lose their hair and the effects are so much worse. Genes play a crucial role in the onset of androgenetic alopecia. But this is not the only cause.
A systemic or temporary loss of hair (telogen effluvium) can be due to a hormone imbalance, side effects from medicines and other factors. An temporary loss of hair can be due to a temporary or chronic disease. Sometimes, an acute disease can cause androgenetic alopecia in some cases. Moreover, malnourishment can also lead to hair loss due to low levels of biotin, proteins and calories.
Biotin prevents hair loss and stimulates its growth
Recent laboratory studies combined biotin with the tripeptide GHK increases the length of the hair from a 58% to a 120%. A 58% of the increase corresponded to the biotin molecule and the effect of minoxidil. A study was conducted on nine participants that suffered hair loss due to androgenetic alopecia and temporary hair loss (telogen effluvium).
Most of the time, they are products such as shampoos, hair conditioners and toning products for the hair. The rest is included in make up and skin care products. The biotin concentration in many of these products moves between a 0.0001% and 0.6%. The highest concentrations are found in facial cleansing products (except for shaving products).  
Biotin improves the nails
Brittle nails usually have a fragile aspect, with cracks, burrows and several layers that can fall easily. This problem is quite frequent, since it affects around a 20% of the population. It happens to women in twice of the cases. 
The strength of the nails is mainly due to their sulfur content. It helps to stabilize the fibrous proteins from keratin in the nail plate. More than a 75% of those who have brittle nails have lower sulfur levels when compared to healthy people. While the concentration of other trace elements is not that relevant. The lowest levels of sulfur molecules are connected to age, which explains why brittle nails are more common among the elderly.
The following factors can affect the health, growth and structure of the nails and produce brittle nails:
- Low blood flow
- Fungal infections
- Damage caused by aggressive nail care products or nail polish
- Nail tumors
- Physical injuries
- Nail polish remover
- Serious chronic infectious diseases
A study was conducted on more than 1738 patients with psoriasis. It was discovered that they also suffered pain related to the state of their nails. Another study confirmed that a 75% of the participants complained about feeling uncomfortable and pain when using shoes. This physical disorder also has a negative impact on the self-esteem and quality of life of those who suffer from it.
Biotin helps to treat brittle nails
The properties of biotin were discovered when treating abnormalities in horses’ hooves. This is why this vitamin can be used to treat brittle nails in people. The clinical studies have proven that biotin strengthens the nails due to the biochemical similarities between the hooves and nails.
The clinical evidence of the benefits of biotin for brittle nails
Some experts believe that the daily intake of high doses of biotin (2.5 to 5mg) contributes to improving the health of the nails. Some clinical studies suggest that taking a biotin nutritional supplement is beneficial for brittle nails.
The results of a clinical study published in 2006 showed the benefits of biotin for brittle nails. The study included 54 patients (mainly women) who had brittle, cracked or soft nails. They were divided in two groups, one of them was given 2.5mg of biotin. On the other hand, the other group was given a placebo. Neither the researchers nor the patients knew which group they belonged to until the end of the study.
The improvement was evident in the group that was given biotin for three months. However, the results were statistically significant after six months. In another study, mostly with female patients, a 91% stated that they had firmer and less cracked nails after taking 2.5 of biotin daily. The rest of the participants reported slight improvements. Nevertheless, the improvements were more remarkable after eight months of treatment. This was due to the fact that this is the approximate period of time that our nails need to recover completely.
It keeps the skin healthy
Biotin is an essential nutrient that keeps the skin healthy and supports its healing processes.
An insufficient biotin supply can cause many skin diseases, such as:
The research suggests that this is due to the role that biotin plays in the synthesis of fatty acids. Biotin is necessary for the activation of acetyl-CoA carboxylase. This is an enzyme that is involved in building blocks for the production of fat. An altered fatty acid metabolism connected to a biotin deficiency is one of the main causes of skin problems. 
Fats are necessary to maintain the cell function in the entire body. Skin cells are greatly dependant on the production of fat because they are exposed to external factors. They die quickly, which is why they have to be constantly renewed. Quite frequently, the first symptoms of a biotin deficiency affect the state of our skin.
It has been proven that an additional dose of 1 to 10mg of biotin daily heals skin rashes and even severe cases of seborrheic dermatitis. The result was spectacular on the skin of children who suffered seborrheic dermatitis who were breastfed by malnourished mothers. However, the cause of seborrheic dermatitis is not always due to a biotin deficiency. 
Combining manganese and biotin is quite useful in order to improve its effects. The experts suggest that manganese enhances the healing effects of biotin in certain skin diseases (like psoriasis and acne). Biotin needs certain enzymes to function properly on the skin and manganese helps to activate them. 
Biotin shortens the wound healing process
The clinical studies have proven that complex B vitamins, including biotin, shorten the wound healing processes. These beneficial effects of vitamin B were confirmed in a little controlled placebo study. It was conducted on patients with periodontitis who had gone through surgery.
The 30 adults who participated were divided into to groups randomly. Half of them were given a vitamin B complex and the other half a placebo. The product had, among others, 50μg of biotin.  The healing was evaluated at the beginning of the treatment and again after a week, two weeks, a month, three months and six months. The result was analyzed according to the use of a catheter, the bleeding, gingival index, plaque index, clinical insertion level and a BANA test for bacterial infections.
Some criteria did not have significant differences between the placebo group and the one that took vitamin B. However, the result was significantly better regarding the state of the surgical wounds, both superficial and deep. According to this, the conclusion was that vitamin B, including biotin, has wound healing properties.
An excessive consumption of biotin does not entail any danger and there had been few cases of biotin toxicity up until now.
However, the blood biotin level can be affected if we also take oral anticonvulsants or antibiotics at the same time. In addition, the biotin level can also be affected by those who suffer digestive disorders that affect the intestinal bacteria.
Some medicines, including isotretinoin (Accutane), which are prescribed for acne can reduce the activity of biotin. High doses of other B vitamins, such as pantothenic acid, can also reduce the biotin levels in the body. It is advisable to take all the B vitamins with complex B vitamins supplements in order to get the best results.
Side effects of biotin
In general, biotin is quite safe and it tends to be well tolerated. No side effects have been reported, unless the dose is higher than 10mg / day (even though higher doses are not safe).
Many medicines, such as antibiotics, can cause a biotin deficiency. The intake of biotin can also alter certain laboratory tests for the thyroid function. Blood tests are not regarded as a good method to measure the biotin level in the body. That is why is advise to use a urine rest to determine its levels with more precision.
Biotin can also be used against the side effects of certain medicines that are prescribed for epilepsy.
What do the experts think about biotin:
1. Biotin helps to repair brittle nails and stimulates the hair growth
A clinical study has proven that biotin is involved in hair growth (which is why it helps to avoid its loss), the dermis and nails. Taking biotin for several months increases the thickness and strength of these structures in a twenty-five per cent.
2. A biotin deficiency during pregnancy
Several clinical studies have proven that, at least, a third of the pregnant women suffer a biotin deficiency. There is scientific evidence that even a mild biotin deficiency can cause defects in the fetus. That is why it is advisable to take biotin supplements during the pregnancy.
Studies and References
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