Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin and a member of the vitamin B complex. It is often referred to as vitamin H, coenzyme R and also the ‘beauty’ vitamin. Biotin assists in energy and amino acid metabolism, fat and glycogen synthesis as well as promoting healthy skin, hair and nails.

Why you may need biotin

Brittle finger nails – biotin has been found to increase the thickness of finger and toenails in people with brittle nails.

Energy production – biotin is involved in the production of energy from food, especially the metabolism of fats and proteins, and the proper utilisation of glucose.

How much do you need?

Adequate Intake levels are:
Adults (over 19 years): 25mcg (women), 30mcg (men) daily
Pregnancy: 30mcg daily
Breastfeeding: 35mcg daily
Children 9-13 years: 20mcg daily
Children 14-18 years: 25mcg (girls), 30mcg (boys) daily

Symptoms of deficiency

Deficiency of biotin is rare since it is so widespread in foods and can be synthesised by the bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract.

To assess the deficiency symptoms, researchers have induced biotin deficiency by simply feeding raw egg whites! These contain the biotin-binding protein called aviden that binds biotin and stops its absorption. Cooking the egg whites stops aviden in its tracks, therefore placing no stress on biotin absorption.

After eating two raw egg whites daily for several months you may present with the following deficiency symptoms – loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, dry scaly, red scaly dermatitis around the eyes, nose, and mouth inflamed tongue (glossitis), loss of taste, sleepiness, anxiety, depression, an increase in serum cholesterol levels, thinning hair and loss of hair colour.

Food sources

The best dietary sources of biotin include bean sprouts, liver, kidney, soy beans, milk, meat and peanuts.

Other reasons why you may need more

Certain conditions and factors can increase your demand of biotin, these include alcohol, coffee, cigarette smoking, congenital biotinidase deficiency (this affects your absorption of biotin), malabsorption syndromes and during pregnancy.

Safety notes

Biotin is well tolerated.

©2014 Go Vita. Information presented is for information purposes only and is not intended to replace advice or treatment from qualified healthcare professionals. The information is not intended to treat or diagnose. Always consult your healthcare professional before taking nutritional or herbal supplements. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have any allergies or diagnosed conditions, always consult your healthcare professional before taking nutritional or herbal supplements.