The word “biotin” originates from the ancient Greek word “biotos,” meaning of which is “life” or “sustenance.” Biotin is a form of vitamin B, which is a water soluble vitamin and is an essential requirement in the body, especially for healthy skin, hair and nails. Biotin is widely used in cosmetics and health products for the hair and skin. Biotin is also known as vitamin B7 or vitamin H. It is a vital component of enzymes in the body, which is helpful for metabolizing fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Vitamin H or biotin is part of the B-Complex vitamin family. (1) Biotin is produced naturally in the body through food intake of meat products, dairy products, fruits, vegetables and nuts. There have been many claims on the benefits of vitamin B7 or biotin or vitamin H as a vitamin which regulates blood sugar, helps in proper functioning of liver, promotes hair growth, beautiful skin, helps pregnant women for embryonic growth and nutrition etc.
- What Is Vitamin H Or Biotin Used For?
- What Is The Source Of Vitamin H Or Biotin?
- How Is Biotin Good For Health?
- What Are The Symptoms Of Biotin Deficiency?
- Is Biotin Good For Your Hair?
- Is Biotin Good For Facial Hair Growth?
- Can Biotin Help You Lose Weight?
- Can Biotin Make You Gain Weight?
- Can Biotin Give You Acne?
- Are There Any Side Effects Of Biotin?
- What Are The Symptoms Of Biotin Overdose?
- How Much Biotin Is Too Much?
- In Nutshell
What Is Vitamin H Or Biotin Used For?
There are certain bacteria in the intestine of the body which produces vitamin H naturally, and being water-soluble in nature, the body does not store it and hence, we need to depend on regular intake of biotin and the production of the nutrient in the body. Biotin or vitamin H helps in transforming carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into energy for proper functioning of the body. It also transports carbon-dioxide and produces fatty acids in the body. It is required for healthy skin, hair, bone marrow, nerve tissue, sweat glands, liver, and kidney. It also helps the nervous system to function properly. It is essential for normal embryonic growth.
According to the European Food Safety Authority (2), biotin helps the human body in many ways:
- Helps in metabolism of nutrients
- Helps in energy-producing metabolism
- Helps in the functioning of the nervous system
- Helps in maintaining hair, skin and nail membranes
- Helps in psychological function
- Helps in maintaining glucose level in the body
- Helps in maintaining the growth of fetus of a pregnant woman
What Is The Source Of Vitamin H Or Biotin?
Vitamin B7 or vitamin H cannot be synthesized by human cells and cannot be absorbed. But, it is available in various foods. Biotin is found in both non-vegetarian and vegetarian food sources and nuts. (3) (4) Hence, consuming such foods in good proportion helps in the daily intake of vitamin H in the body.
- Chicken breast
- Organ meats (kidney, liver)
- Beef or pork liver
- Eggs (Cooked and should never be raw)
- Fish and seafood like as tuna, salmon, mackerel, oysters etc.
Fruits And Vegetables
- Green peas
Cereals And Pulses
- Oat bran
- Brown rice
- Yeast, baker’s, dried
- Cashew etc
How Is Biotin Good For Health?
The body needs biotin or vitamin H for various health benefits. Let’s know more about the uses of biotin in our body.
1. Hair, Skin And Nails:
Having a daily dose of biotin is associated with having glowing skin, strong nails and glossy hair. People with biotin deficiency show symptoms of hair loss or a scaly red rash or brittle nails for which some doctors and medicine companies recommend increasing biotin intake in the body through food or supplements. (5)
2. Pregnancy And Breastfeeding:
A mild deficiency in biotin during pregnancy can lead to abnormal growth in the fetus. Hence, biotin is important during pregnancy as it is a prenatal vitamin. Biotin helps in the growth of the embryo. Also, after delivery, a good dose of biotin is required for a good production of breast milk. During pregnancy, there are chances of biotin deficiency in the body due to the faster biotin breakdown. This loss needs be compensated with a healthy diet so as to give birth to a healthy baby. (5)
3. Control Sugar:
Biotin belongs to the family of B complex vitamins, known to promote better health. Biotin plays an important role in the body in regulating blood sugar levels, in the metabolization of fatty acids, and glucose production. A report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition said that biotin helps in maintaining a steady blood sugar level by influencing the proper enzymes. Although biotin may not be directly involved to reduce the sugar level, it supports the process along with chromium. (6)
4. Proper Functioning Of The Nervous System:
Regular intake of vitamin H might help in improving symptoms in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) which affects the nervous system, causing muscle weakness and other problems. (7)
5. Energy Production:
One of the most essential benefits of biotin is that it helps in energy production, needed for the smooth functioning of the body. Inadequate biotin in the body can reduces metabolism, which can cause digestive problems, fatigue, and weight gain. (8)
What Are The Symptoms Of Biotin Deficiency?
Though it is very rare to have biotin deficiency as it is obtained through various food sources, certain signs and symptoms are noticeable when the body has deficiency in biotin: (9)
- Hair thinning and eventually hair loss (alopecia)
- Scaly rashes near mouth, nose, around the eyes, genital area
- Unusual facial fat distribution, popularly termed as “biotin deficient facies”
- Lactate production exceeds lactate clearance
- Skin infection
- Brittle nails etc.
Some neurological and psychological symptoms are as follows: (9)
Is Biotin Good For Your Hair?
From various medical studies, it has been found that when there is biotin deficiency in the body, people can suffer from hair loss, and for which, doctors prescribe biotin supplements, which successfully treat the problem of damaged and brittle hair follicles, including hair loss. This is the reason why biotin is considered as one of the most popularly known vitamins for hair. (10)
Thus, many people have claimed that biotin has its benefits on healthy hair growth. But, so far, there are no scientific evidence or clinical trials to support this. However, it has been seen that in cases of acquired and inherited causes of biotin deficiency, biotin supplementation is of great help to improve hair health. (10) While there are not enough studies to prove that biotin alone can serve as a hair loss remedy, there is no denying the fact that hair loss is often caused by vitamin deficiencies (which include biotin too). Hence, an adequate dose of vitamin H and other vitamins contribute to the re-growth of healthy hair.
Is Biotin Good For Facial Hair Growth?
There is not enough scientific evidence that biotin can help in the growth of facial hair or beard. But, yes, being a vitamin and belonging to the Vitamin B complex family, it helps in strengthening the skin’s keratin structure. However, other factors like as hormones, genetics, nutrition and medications can all influence your beard growth. (10)
Can Biotin Help You Lose Weight?
Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin, part of the B complex vitamin group, which does the function of converting carbohydrates, fats and proteins into glucose and energy. Hence, it contributes to the metabolism of nutrients. Enzymes used in making fats, breaking down amino acids and proteins, and forming glucose require biotin. Biotin is naturally found in many food sources. Due to biotin’s natural growth process as a water soluble vitamin, helping in the metabolizing of nutrients, many weight loss manufacturers might consider biotin as a weight-loss vitamin. However, there are no enough evidences to support the use of biotin for weight loss. But, yes, proper biotin levels will help ensuring proper mobilization of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Hence, adequate biotin supplements can be considered in a complete weight loss plan, only as a supportive measure, along with exercises, physical activities and proper diet. (11) (12)
Can Biotin Make You Gain Weight?
Some individuals who have taken biotin supplements claim that they have gained weight after taking the vitamin. However, just as there are no evidences to proof that biotin helps in weight loss, similarly, there are no evidences to proof that biotin causes weight gain, according to WebMD. Infact, there are instances, when insufficient biotin in the body causes slow or weak metabolism and this leads to a number of health issues, including weight gain. (12) Again, weight gain can be due to many factors like as medications, calories imbalance, overeating, lack of exercises and so on. All bodies do not react to substances in the same manner. And, all kinds of vitamins, including biotin, are required to boost metabolism and for proper functioning of the body, and not meant to make you gain weight. There are no scientific evidences to show that biotin can directly make you gain weight. (12)
Can Biotin Give You Acne?
Biotin is one of the most popular vitamins, whose deficiency in the body can cause hair loss, brittle nails, or skin rashes. But, what is very surprising is that this vitamin while it claims to give glossy skin is one of the main causes of acne. Many have complained of acne growth after consuming biotin supplement, but it is still not been scientifically proven that biotin and acne has a link.
Biotin is a common ingredient in most cosmetics, skin products, shampoos and conditioners. Biotin or vitamin H or vitamin B7 is already naturally produced by the body. Hence, taking biotin supplements are not advisable because the excess amount of biotin or any supplement can cause acne because every human body has a unique response to any vitamin or supplement. Some have reactions while others don’t. So if you feel you need extra biotin in your body, try to get it through the biotin-rich foods instead of supplements. (13)
Are There Any Side Effects Of Biotin?
Biotin is usually considered as a safe and non-toxic vitamin as there has been no reporting of any serious side effects. According to FDA, biotin is safe so long as it is consumed in adequate doses. It has been found that certain habits or diets can cause biotin deficiency in the body. For instance, eating raw eggs regularly can cause biotin deficiency. Similarly, women who smoke a lot have increased the metabolism of biotin in their bodies, which may affect adversely. Prolonged use of antibiotics can reduce vitamin H levels because they destroy biotin-producing bacteria in the intestines. (14)
Since biotin is available in various food sources, it is advisable not to take biotin supplements, unless and until, it is advised by the doctor. Many people with the intention of treating hair loss or brittle nails take biotin supplements on their own, which is not at all advisable. The federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans advices that people should get most of their nutrients from food. (15) A doctor prescribes biotin supplements for people with biotin deficiency symptoms only. Biotin is safe to use if consumed from fruits, vegetables, nuts, meat, bread, yeast and so on.
To avoid any adverse side effects while taking biotin supplements, follow the precautions given below:
- Take sufficient quantity of water to help in absorption of the supplements
- When you start in the beginning to take biotin supplement for the first time, start with a little dose and then increase
- Take biotin after having a proper meal
- Take as recommended by doctors
- Don’t follow your own dose
What Are The Symptoms Of Biotin Overdose?
Usually, biotin consumed through food sources are thrown out of the body through urine and feces. However, consumption of anything more than the required dose is bound to have an adverse effect on the body, and the same applies for biotin overdose as well. The recommended amount of biotin is the one which you get naturally from foods and a natural diet. But getting too much biotin in the form of supplements and multivitamins can provide wrong laboratory results in blood tests for thyroids, tests for heart failure, cancer, pregnancy, iron-deficiency etc. (16) Biotin is responsible for maintenance of glucose level in the body. However, with Biotin overdose, the body may face increased glucose level in the blood. The condition worsens when the patient is a diabetic one.
There are certain symptoms of biotin overdose which at times coincide with the symptoms of biotin deficiency (17). Hence, it is very difficult to identify early signs of biotin overdose. Some vital signs of biotin overdose are –
- Skin rashes
- Excessive thirst
- Lack of sleep
- Excessive Urination
How Much Biotin Is Too Much?
Recommended dietary allowance (RDA) and Recommended Nutrient Intakes (RNIs) for biotin have only suggested adequate intake levels, as in very rare cases, the body suffers from deficiency in biotin. The National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine has suggested a normal daily recommended intake for biotin. The recommended intake of biotin for adult men, women and pregnant women is 30 micrograms (mcg) daily.
Children usually do not require take a biotin supplement unless and until it has been recommended by your pediatrician.
- For 0-6 months infants, the adequate intake is 5 mcg/day
- For 7 months to 1 year, biotin intake should be 6 mcg/day
- 1-3 years of age, intake should be 8 mcg/day
- 4-8 years of age, intake should be 12 mcg/day
- 9-13 years of age, intake should be 20 mcg/day
- 14 – 18 years of age, intake should be 25 mcg/day
Your body requires some quantities of biotin, which can be obtained from your healthy food diet. A breastfeeding mother is advised to have a higher dose of biotin 35 mcg/day. You can get this either naturally through your diet or through supplements. (18)
Biotin supplements come in tablet or capsule form in quantities of 10 micrograms (mcg), 50 mcg, and 100 mcg tablets. There has been no reporting of any adverse side effects with the intake of biotin at higher doses. But, if you experience any kind of side effect and feel that it is due to biotin overdose, contact your personal physician immediately.
- Biotin is a coenzyme, a vitamin of the B-complex family which is essential for good health.
- It helps in breaking down of carbohydrates, fats, proteins into energy which helps in the proper functioning of the body.
- A good intake of biotin helps in having glowing skin, promotes hair growth and makes the nails strong and sturdy.
- Biotin is absolutely necessary for a pregnant woman as it helps in the growth of the fetus.
- Biotin is vital to our health and can be found in regular food sources.
- Biotin can be found in nuts, carrots, bananas and avocados, yeast, cheese, meat, fish etc.
- Biotin deficiency is rare as it is produced in the body naturally through a healthy food diet.
- Incase, if you suffer from biotin deficiency, marked by symptoms like as rashes, brittle nails, hair loss, you can consider taking biotin supplement but only on the advice of your physician.
- There are no major side effects of biotin, neither any adverse effects of biotin overdose.
- Biotin is necessary for normal body function.