Biotin is an important micronutrient in the body. It is also known as Vitamin B7, Vitamin H or Coenzyme R. In low concentrations, Biotin is absorbed through facilitated transport. In high concentrations, it is absorbed through passive diffusion in the small intestines (the upper part). Biotin is a relatively stable micronutrient, as it does not easily get destroyed by heat, oxygen or light. In adults, the recommended intake of Biotin is 30 micrograms everyday. Any excess of this vitamin is excreted by the body through urine.
Food Sources of Biotin
Biotin can be found in a wide variety of foods. This micronutrient is particularly plentiful in meat, soybeans, whole grains, egg yolk, fish, dairy and dark, leafy vegetables.
The body can also produce biotin through intestinal microorganisms that synthesize it in the gastrointestinal tract. However, even if the body can produce this micronutrient, it is not recommended to depend solely on this source.
Benefits of Biotin in the Body
Biotin plays a role in releasing energy from fat, carbohydrates and protein. It assists in the synthesis of fatty acids. Biotin is also important in gluconeogenesis. This is the process of breaking down protein to be used as energy in cases of starvation.
Biotin as a Form of Treatment
Biotin is used in the treatment of biotin-deficiency during pregnancy, in cases of malnutrition, tube feeding (long-term) and immediate weight loss.
Although more proof is still needed for its effectiveness in these conditions, it is also used as an oral treatment for conditions like hair loss, mild depression, brittle nails and diabetes.
Although an uncommon occurrence (since biotin is present in a lot of foods found in the diet), a deficiency in biotin can happen. For instance, eating only raw egg whites can cause one to be lacking in biotin. This is because egg whites contain a protein that binds with biotin and thus prevents it from being absorbed in the body. Using antibiotics for a long time can also cause biotin deficiency. Symptoms of this deficiency include fatigue, nausea, hair loss, depression, muscle pains and anemia.
Biotin Warnings and Precautions
Biotin, when taken at its recommended dosage, is beneficial to the body. It is also said to be safe when taken orally.
However, there are special cases where biotin should be taken with caution, like during pregnancy or breast-feeding. People who are undergoing kidney dialysis should also consult with a physician regarding biotin dosages. It is also advised to consult with a physician about taking in biotin while on medication.