Whether you are already taking supplements or are considering improving your health by beginning a supplement routine, you may want to consider adding biotin to the list. Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is a micronutrient that is essential to growth. Stemming from the Greek word biotos, which translates to “sustenance” or “life-giving,” biotin has proven to be a super vitamin with the power to affect how we function physically on a daily basis.
Like the other B-complex vitamins, biotin helps your body convert food into energy. This happens at a cellular level by transforming the carbohydrates you eat into glucose. However, while biotin is essential, it is water-soluble, and your body will not store it. Instead, any biotin your body produces is either taken up into the blood and used or excreted in the urine. Therefore, it is important that you consume enough biotin on a daily basis so that you do not become deficient.
Having a lack of biotin can affect many aspects of your overall health. The main side effects you may have if you are biotin deficient are hair loss, brittle nails, and a red, scaly rash that appears on the face, typically around the mouth, eyes, and nose. More severe side effects include muscle pain and seizures. However, biotin deficiency can affect not only the body but also the mind. People with biotin deficiency are also more likely to suffer from neurological issues such as extreme tiredness, hallucinations, and even depression.
If you do notice any of these symptoms occurring, it’s important to visit a physician to get a full blood workup to test for other underlying issues. In many cases, these symptoms can be caused by an underlying condition such as a thyroid issue or iron deficiency. Biotin deficiency is also more likely if you have a condition like liver disease, diabetes, or even pregnancy. When taken along with medications to treat these conditions and in conjunction with a healthy diet, biotin supplementation can be an essential component of your overall health and wellness.
What Foods Contain Biotin?
Although many people can get an adequate amount of biotin from a normal, healthy diet, taking additional biotin through a supplement can be helpful for maintaining a healthier lifestyle, especially if you are a person who is at risk for biotin deficiency due to a pre-existing condition.
Foods that contain biotin include:
- Organ meat
- Cooked egg yolks
- Oats and other whole grainsSpinach
- Certain nuts, such as almonds and walnuts
There is an additional consideration for getting the proper amount of biotin every day via your normal diet. Just because a food like spinach is known to contain biotin, the amount of biotin that it may contain can vary depending on the season, plant variety, and the processing techniques that are utilized while harvesting the food. Therefore, taking a supplement is a sure way to know that you are actually getting enough biotin no matter the season or what you eat.
Biotin Benefits and Side Effects
One of the best-known uses for biotin is as a hair, skin, and nail supplement. This is, in fact, one of the primary benefits of biotin. However, consider that biotin is also known as vitamin H, for the German Haar und Haute, which translates to hair and health. Getting a sufficient amount of biotin in your daily diet can provide numerous benefits for your hair as well as your body’s growth and overall functioning.
The benefits of biotin can include all of the following:
- Heart Protection – Maintaining an adequate amount of biotin may help improve blood flow in and out of your heart. Proper blood flow can prevent many common heart problems, including heart failure.
- Increases Immunity – Taking a daily biotin supplement can help your body remain strong and fight off illnesses. Lack of biotin and other B vitamins is often indicated in those with immune issues.
- Helps with Allergies – Since the properties of biotin can assist in attenuating immune reactions and reducing inflammation, they can also help individuals suffering from allergic reactions.
- Regulates Metabolism – If you are looking to improve your metabolism, biotin could be a possible supplement to add to your daily routine. Since biotin and other B vitamins convert fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids into energy, it may help you boost your metabolism.
- Assists in Nervous System Protection – Biotin is critical in creating the myelin sheath. This fatty substance protects cells in the nerves, spinal cord, and brain.
- Blood Sugar Regulation – Biotin helps to keep blood sugar levels stable by increasing insulin levels and regulating blood glucose. This can be especially helpful for individuals battling Type 2 diabetes.
- Healthy Weight Loss – Biotin can be a great option for individuals looking to lose weight. Since it helps regulate metabolism by converting extra fats and carbohydrates into energy, biotin supplementation may contribute to healthy weight loss.
- Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis – Due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, doctors may recommend a biotin supplement as one of the methods for helping to treat multiple sclerosis.
- Helps Repair Muscles and Tissues – Biotin helps the body process the amino acids and proteins that are the building blocks of muscle tissue. Proper levels of biotin may help address muscle injuries and weakness.
- Proper Fetal Development – Pregnant women are typically advised to take biotin, as it helps ensure the fetus grows and develops properly. In addition, pregnant women are often deficient in biotin, as much of it goes to the developing baby.
- Helps Hair Grow Strong and Healthy – If you are looking to grow your hair or increase its strength, you can try adding biotin to your diet. Biotin is thought to stimulate keratin production and follicle growth to help boost hair production, make hair stronger and shinier, and prevent hair loss.
- Stronger Nails – If you are finding that your nails are weak and brittle, it may be due to a biotin deficiency. Biotin supplementation can help you restore biotin levels and ensure your nails are healthy and strong.
- Treatment for Skin Problems – If you are battling dry or flaky skin, biotin can assist in the production of fatty acids, which help to make the skin smoother and stronger. Anti-inflammatory properties may also reduce unwanted redness and irritation.
How Can Biotin Affect You?
- Cardiac tests
- Vitamin D levels
- Thyroid levels
- Reproductive hormone tests
- Immunosuppressive drug tests
Who Can Benefit Most From Taking Biotin?
While biotin can support healthy hair and nail growth in all people, it also holds the potential to help many individuals experiencing health issues. Taking a biotin supplement can be especially useful for the following groups of people.
If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, you may be the perfect candidate to try biotin. Although there are few conclusive results, research has suggested that for type 2 diabetes, taking a biotin supplement may help individuals regulate their blood glucose levels. For type 1 diabetics, taking a biotin supplement may be able to help prevent kidney damage.
Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women
Women who are pregnant tend to become biotin deficient since they are now supplying this vitamin for two bodies instead of one. It is extremely important to prevent biotin deficiency during pregnancy to ensure the proper growth and development of the fetus. It is even recommended that women who are breastfeeding continue taking a biotin supplement to ensure that they are maintaining enough biotin in their own bodies as well as giving the baby the proper amount of biotin to maintain growth.
Alcoholics and Individual With Liver Issues
Individuals who consume alcohol regularly also benefit from taking a biotin supplement. People with liver diseases are often deficient in biotin, and regular exposure to alcohol regularly can actually inhibit the absorption of biotin in the body. As many as 15% of alcoholics exhibit biotin deficiency.
People With Biotinidase Deficiency
Biotinidase deficiency is a serious autosomal disorder that doesn’t allow the body to release biotin on its own, leading to deficiency. Without this free biotin, severe deficiency can cause neurological issues or even death. This disorder is typically found at birth, and treatment begins shortly thereafter. Treatment involves taking biotin orally for the rest of an individual’s life.
Biotin Supplement FAQs
More people are beginning to incorporate a biotin supplement into their daily diet. Before doing so, you may have some questions about how taking biotin can affect your overall health. Check out these frequently asked questions to learn just how biotin may help you.
Ready to Try Biotin Supplements?
Adding a supplement to your routine and eating a healthy diet are key ways to ensure you are getting enough biotin. This is especially important if you consume alcohol, have a liver disease, are diabetic, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have identified a biotin deficiency. Fortunately, biotin supplements can help you restore proper levels.
Whether you want to improve your hair, skin, and nails, ensure the proper growth of your baby, or address a medical condition, biotin supplements from Compounding Pharmacy of America can be an easy way to improve your life.
Chief Operating Officer, The Compounding Pharmacy of America
Matthew Poteet, Pharm.D. graduated with Honors from Lee University with a Bachelors of Science in Biological Science. After his undergraduate training, he completed the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Mercer University Southern School of Pharmacy, graduating in 2004. Dr. Poteet has spent much of his pharmacy career on staff at two of the most prestigious academic teaching hospitals in the Southeast; Emory University in Atlanta and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. At these institutions he received extensive experience and training in sterile products compounding.
He returned home to East Tennessee in 2010, where he has held the position of Pharmacy Director at two sterile products pharmacies in Knoxville. Matthew lives in Knoxville with his wife, Chris. Dr. Poteet is Tennessee’s first Board Certified Anti-Aging Pharmacist by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.