Biotin, also known as vitamin H, is one of the B complex vitamins that aid conversion of food into energy by the body. The word biotin is obtained from ancient Greek word ‘biotos’, meaning ‘sustenance’ or ‘life’. Biotin is crucial for normal functioning of the body. It is a water-soluble vitamin required essentially for healthy functioning of digestive, metabolic, cardiovascular, and nervous system. It plays the role of a coenzyme essential for healthy metabolism of fatty acids, glucose, and amino acids.
In addition, biotin is also effective in keeping you young and attractive for being highly beneficial for skin, nails, and hair.
Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency
Biotin deficiency is characterized by symptoms like:
- Hair loss
- Muscle and Joint pain
- Loss of Appetite
- Dandruff or dry scalp
More serious symptoms include restricted growth and neurological disorders in infants.
Common Food Sources of Biotin
Although people are turning towards supplements to combat the deficiency of this amazing vitamin, there is nothing like getting it from natural food sources like:
- Eggs (only the yolk)
- Nut butters
- Whole grain bread
How Does Biotin Benefit The Body?
Akin to other vitamins, biotin also provides amazing health benefits to the body. Some of the most important health benefits associated with this B-vitamin include:
1. Maintains Tissue and Muscle Health
Biotin is essential for growth and repair of body tissues and muscles. When a tissue or muscle breaks down, biotin works to bring back the muscle and tissue strength. It also provides proper functioning of nervous system tissues as well as optimum growth of bone marrow. In addition, biotin also helps to reduce inflammation that can be a cause for muscle aches, pain in joints, or troublesome movements.
2. Healthy Metabolism
Biotin regulates the gene expressions important to conduct the metabolism functions. It acts as a catalyst that controls the various metabolic reactions providing energy through metabolism of crucial components like proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Biotin or vitamin B-7, along with other B vitamins, is essential to convert the consumed food into energy. This usable energy is crucial to support healthy metabolism. However, biotin performs this function in numerous ways like:
By converting the glucose received from carbohydrates and sugar into usable energy – the preferred source of a body’s energy.
- By activating fatty acids obtained from animal fats or oils.
- By helping the body to use amino acids obtained by proteins to perform various body functions.
All these processes are essential for the body to conduct regularly to stay in good health and shape.
3. Healthy Skin, Hair, and Nails
Biotin helps to maintain healthy skin, nails, and hair. A deficiency of biotin can lead to splitting, thinning, and brittle hair along with dry and irritated skin. This is the reason that biotin is included as a crucial component in many beauty products like cosmetic creams and hair masks. However, biotin benefits can be obtained better when eaten instead of topical application. In addition, biotin also protects the skin from fungal infections, rashes, acne, and severe dryness and cracking.
4. Heart Health
Biotin also ensures proper and healthy functioning of the heart by relieving it of most crucial problems. It works by reducing cholesterol levels, one of the major causes leading to strokes and heart attacks. Biotin, when combined with chromium, can improve cholesterol levels, specifically in diabetics patient.
5. Aids Weight Loss
Biotin is quite effective in reducing extra fat from the human body thus helping maintain a healthy weight. Generally, obese or overweight people are recommended by the doctors to include biotin rich foods in their diet plan.
6. Regulates Blood Sugar
Biotin, when combined with chromium, works excellent to regulate blood sugar in diabetic patients. This is true specifically for people with uncontrolled blood sugar levels in spite of prescription medicines.
Biotin or Vitamin B7 helps to regulate blood sugar levels by facilitating insulin activity, an essential hormone required to get the blood glucose back to its normal level. Better insulin activity reduces the risk of fluctuation in levels of blood glucose thus reducing the risk of diabetes.
7. Healthy Thyroid and Adrenal Function
Biotin is a B-vitamin that is crucial for healthy thyroid activity and also protects adrenal fatigue. The adrenal gland and thyroid plant are considered as master glands that help functioning of multiple body states like sleep, hunger, pain perception, energy, and mood. A deficiency of biotin can lead to thyroid and adrenal complications thus leading to consequences like weight loss or gain, fatigue, insomnia, and more.
Besides this long list of benefits, biotin also helps to treat numerous diseases like Parkinson’s disease, alopecia, Rett syndrome, and vaginal candidiasis. Most importantly, biotin is a beneficial vitamin for treatment of some serious conditions such as seborrhea dermatitis, peripheral neuropathy, and Crohn’s disease.
A Word of Caution
Although natural sources are the best ways to deal with any deficiency, you might require going for supplements in more serious conditions. With the numerous health benefits, there are also certain tips to consider as a precaution if you are taking biotin supplements. These include:
- Water Intake – As mentioned earlier, biotin is a water soluble vitamin. Therefore, make sure to increase your intake of water if you are taking biotin supplements. It should be at least 3.5 litres a day.
- Dosage – This is the most important thing to consider. It is important that you take only the prescribed dosage of your supplement. Generally, doctors do not recommend more than one pill a day. Make sure to take it with a heavy meal. And, start with a minimal dosage to see the body’s response and reaction to the medicine. Increase the dosage if suitable.
- Pregnancy – Biotin supplements are not recommended for pregnant women unless prescribed by the doctor.
- Vitamin B-complex – Biotin is only one part of B-complex vitamins that also include vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, and B12. All these B-vitamins contribute to cell metabolism. Therefore, it is important to balance their quantities. Any imbalance can lead to adverse effects.
- Duration – Excess of anything is not good. Usually, biotin supplements are not recommended for consumption for more than 2-3 months.