Biotin: More Than Just a Hair Vitamin


Vitamin B7, also known as biotin, was discovered in the 1930s by German scientist Paul Gyorgy when he extracted the compound from the liver and named it Vitamin H, where the letter ‘H’ represents’ Haar und Haut’, which are German words for “hair and skin”. Biotin was later found to be essential for cell growth, the production of fatty acids, and the metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids. It was also identified as the cause of a condition called ‘egg white injury’, which was a condition in which rats fed egg whites developed hair loss and skin lesions.
This discovery led to biotin being recognized as an essential nutrient for humans.

Vitamin B7 health benefits

Vitamin B7 is one of the B vitamins that plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health. Here are some of the key health benefits associated with this vitamin:

  1. Supports Metabolism: Biotin is essential for several enzymatic reactions within the body, particularly those involved in metabolism. It helps to convert the food you eat into usable energy.

  2. Improves Hair, Skin, and Nail Health: Biotin is often promoted for its ability to strengthen the hair and nails and improve the health of your skin. Some studies suggest that biotin might help reduce hair loss associated with biotin deficiency.

  3. Helps During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Biotin is especially important during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Deficiencies are somewhat common during pregnancy and can potentially lead to birth defects.

  4. Supports Brain Function: Biotin plays a role in nerve function, which makes it essential for maintaining cognitive function and psychological health.

  5. Helps Maintain Blood Sugar Levels: Some research suggests that biotin can help manage blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. This may be particularly true when combined with chromium.

vitamin B7 brain function

Foods rich in vitamin B7

You can meet your biotin requirements as it can be found in a variety of foods, including:
  • Eggs: particularly the yolk
  • Meat and fish: such as beef, pork, and salmon
  • Dairy products: such as milk and cheese
  • Nuts and seeds: such as almonds, pecans, and sunflower seeds
  • Legumes: such as soybeans, lentils, and peanuts
  • Whole grains: such as oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa
  • Fruits and vegetables: such as bananas, mushrooms, and cauliflower
vitamin B7 foods

Recommended daily intake

The recommended daily intake (RDI) of biotin varies depending on age and sex.
  • Adults over the age of 19 should take 30 micrograms
  • Pregnant women should take 30 milligrams *
  • Women who are nursing should take 25 milligrams *
  • Adolescents from the ages 13-18 should take 25 micrograms
  • Children ages 4-13 should take 12-20 micrograms
  • Infants aged 7 months to 3 years of age should take 6-8 micrograms
  • Infants under the age of 7 months should take 5 micrograms
*NOTE-Pregnant and Nursing women need a lot more–milligrams – NOT micro-grams!

Vitamin B7 deficiency

A deficiency of biotin is rare, but it can occur in certain situations such as:
  • Long-term use of antibiotics can disrupt the gut microbiome and reduce the body’s ability to produce biotin.
  • Consuming raw egg whites in large amounts, as they contain avidin that can bind to biotin and make it unavailable for absorption.
  • Some chronic intestinal conditions may prevent biotin absortion. These conditions include Crohn’s disease and colitis.
  • Biotinidase deficiency: This hereditary disorder is very rare. It prevents your body from reusing biotin. Typically, the human body can reuse B-7 a few times before it’s removed from waste. People with this disorder cannot recycle the vitamin.
  • Strict eating may prevent you from getting a wide variety of vitamins and minerals from the food you eat. Eating a well-balanced diet is vital for your health, and you can still maintain or lose weight if that’s your goal.
Symptoms of biotin deficiency can include:
  • Skin rashes, especially around the eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Brittle nails
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Depression and fatigue
  • Neurological symptoms such as tingling and numbness in the arms and legs
If you suspect you have a biotin deficiency, it’s important to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Treatment for biotin deficiency typically involves increasing your intake of biotin-rich foods or taking a biotin supplement.

Vitamin B7 excess

Biotin is considered safe and non-toxic even at high doses. The Upper Tolerable Limit for biotin has not been established yet. The body can excrete any excess biotin that it doesn’t need.
While it’s available as a supplement, biotin is something you should only take if advised by your doctor. Most people get enough biotin through their regular diet.
It’s important to keep in mind that taking large doses of biotin supplements can interfere with certain lab test results, such as those for thyroid function, vitamin B12, and other hormone levels. If you are planning to have lab work done, it’s best to inform your doctor if you are taking biotin dietary supplements.

Fun facts

Here are a few fun facts about Vitamin B7 or biotin:
  • Biotin is made by gut bacteria and it can be found in small amounts in most foods.
  • It was first used to boost the strength of horses’ hooves. When researchers saw the difference between the quality of the hooves both before and after, they began studying its many effects on other mammals, including humans.
  • There are eight types (stereoisomers) of biotin. Each is beneficial, however, you can only find one of them in nature: d-biotin. Stereoisomers are molecules that share the same formula and atom sequence, but the construction of their atoms in real space is different. They’re like houses that contain identical-looking rooms, but with varying layouts.

Why is vitamin B7 important for sports performance?

Biotin is important for sports performance because it plays a role in energy metabolism, which is crucial for athletes. Biotin helps to convert food into energy and is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids. Athletes need to have enough energy to perform at their best, and biotin helps to ensure that energy is being produced and used efficiently.
Additionally, biotin may also play a role in muscle function and recovery, as it helps in the formation of acetyl-CoA, a compound that is involved in the process of creating energy in the body, and also in the formation of myelin, which is important for the proper function of nerves, including those that control muscle movement.

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