How Do I Get Healthy Skin and Hair? Biotin Facts
Vitamins and minerals are often associated with increased energy levels. Since vitamins lack calories they don’t have the capability to boost energy stores. However, they do perform essential roles including converting carbohydrates, protein, and fat into fuel, or ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the form of energy your body uses in a series of complex reactions. With this being said, that doesn’t stop manufactures from making outrageous claims used to their own advantage.
Let’s take a closer look at the vitamin Biotin, which has surged in popularity in the supplement industry, especially with the discovery that it protects normal development of the fetus in pregnant women and maintains healthy hair, skin, and nails.
Biotin, also known as vitamin H (the H stands for Haar und Haut which is German for hair and skin) or vitamin B7, is a member of the vitamin family and is water-soluble (it is not stored in the body and excreted through the urine). Biotin is available both in foods and as a dietary supplement. It is also required for important bodily functions as the production of glucose (a simple carbohydrate that is used for energy in our bodies) and fatty acids (the broken-down component of the fats we eat).
What are the health benefits of biotin?
Hair, Skin, and Nails
Biotin supplements are often marketed for healthy hair, skin, and nails, but is this claim true? According to one study, subjects with either poor hair or nail growth were administered biotin supplementation and demonstrated evidence of improvement. However, there is weak evidence to suggest that biotin supplementation improves hair, skin, and nail growth, especially in subjects who are not biotin-deficient. Additionally, the National Institutes of Health has not claimed a recommendation use of biotin for hair loss.
Biotin has shown to increase insulin secretion by affecting pancreatic cells as well as enhancing glycolysis (the breakdown of glucose by enzymes used for energy). A study reported decreases in HbA1c (average blood glucose level over a three-month period), total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides after three months of biotin supplementation among participants with type 1 diabetes. This study supports previous reports that have shown biotin improves glucose and lipid metabolism.
Biotin deficiency and Pregnancy
Mild degrees of biotin deficiency have been identified as common in normal pregnancy. One study showed an increased secretion of 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid (3-HIA), in the urine as an early indicator of reduced biotin status in pregnant women. Urinary 3-HIA excretion decreased in the pregnant women who received biotin supplementation whereas urinary 3-HIA excretion increased in the women who received the placebo. This study aligns with previous studies that state biotin status has been of concern and additional clinical trials are warranted regarding pregnancy and biotin status.
How much biotin should I be consuming?
Due to insufficient scientific evidence, a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for biotin has not been established. On the other hand, the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has set an Adequate Intake (AI) level, which is the intake level assumed to ensure nutritional adequacy in the absence of sufficient clinical data. See the established Biotin AI’s in micrograms below in the chart.
Supplementation of biotin has been well tolerated in doses up to 200 milligrams/day, which equates to nearly 7,000 times the AI. There have been no reported adverse effects of biotin supplementation. However, biotin supplementation above the recommended amounts may interfere with lab tests and cause inaccurate lab results with certain hormones such as thyroid hormone.
Image obtained from: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/biotin#AI
Biotin-rich foods to add to your diet:
It is best to practice a “food first” approach. It’s important to obtain your caloric needs from whole foods first and then fill in the gaps with supplements, if needed. Because biotin is abundant in food sources and your intestines can produce it, biotin deficiency is generally rare, and supplementation is usually unnecessary unless your physician recommends it.
Foods sources of biotin include eggs (Fun fact: Raw eggs contain dietary avidin, a protein that binds to biotin preventing its absorption in the gut. Cooking inhibits this process so that biotin can be absorbed), yeast, fortified cereals, legumes, seeds, nuts, sweet potatoes, spinach and fish. Below is a list of food sources containing biotin:
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Please note that this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We insist that you always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical/health condition or treatment and before initiating a new health care regime. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the STYR app or on www.MyNutritioniQ.com.