You’ve heard the buzz around biotin supplements for hair growth and nail health. But did you know that your body actually needs this essential vitamin to turn food into energy? Keep reading to learn more about the incredible health benefits of biotin. Biotin has been deemed by medical experts as indispensable in human health and it has several roles in normal immune functioning. Keep reading to learn more about the incredible health benefits of biotin.
What is biotin?
Biotin is one of eight B-complex vitamins. Also known as vitamin H or vitamin B7, biotin is an essential nutrient for turning carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into the energy you need to live and function.
Biotin is a water soluble vitamin, so the body doesn’t store it. Instead, when you consume biotin from food sources or take a biotin supplement, your body absorbs what it needs and flushes out the rest via urine.
Am I getting enough biotin?
Biotin deficiency is rare in the United States. Most people get the biotin they need from food sources. However, biotin supplements are also a popular and convenient way of meeting your nutritional needs.
Mild biotin deficiency can cause hair loss, hair thinning, and brittle nails. Some people also experience scaly red rashes around the eyes, nose, and mouth. A severe deficiency, on the other hand, can lead to skin infections, nervous system disorders, seizures, and more.
Biotinidase deficiency is a rare genetic disorder where the body can’t process or reuse this vitamin. People with this type of biotin deficiency must take a biotin supplement every day.
The many health benefits of biotin
Biotin plays a number of critical roles in the body. Here are science-backed benefits of taking biotin you may not know about:
Improves blood glucose management
Glycemic management has been shown to be improved when biotin is used as an adjuvant to insulin in patients whose type 1 diabetes is poorly controlled. Preclinical work has shown that biotin is able to reduce blood sugar and improve insulin resistance, perhaps by lowering gluconeogenesis and enhancing
glycogen synthesis. The role of biotin in mitigating the impact of sugar may help to combat the detrimental effects of sugar on the immune system.
Evidence suggests that biotin supplements could help manage type 2 diabetes symptoms. A 2007 study in Diabetes Metabolism Research and Reviews reported that taking biotin combined with chromium picolinate improved glycemic control in overweight and obese individuals with type 2 diabetes taking medications.
Early research has also shown that high doses of biotin could reverse neuropathic pain associated with chronic low insulin levels.
Hair, Skin, and Nail Health
Biotin has been touted as a cure-all remedy for all sorts of hair, skin, and nail ailments. Proponents claim that biotin dietary supplements can counter hair loss, promote hair growth, and strengthen brittle nails.
But some research suggests otherwise. Clinical evidence shows that biotin deficiency can cause hair loss, thinning hair, and brittle nails. But biotin deficiency is also very rare in the United States, so most people experiencing these symptoms may not truly be deficient in biotin.
In a few small studies, taking a biotin supplement every day improved nail firmness and hardness after several months of treatment. Among individuals with biotin deficiency, supplements containing biotin reduced thinning hair and improved overall hair health. However, there is not enough evidence to say whether biotin, even in high doses, can benefit hair health among people without deficiency.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Biotin is essential for a healthy pregnancy. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), at least a third of pregnant women develop biotin deficiency even when consuming normal amounts of biotin foods.
Research suggests that biotin deficiency during pregnancy can lead to health issues in developing embryos. For that reason, pregnant women are recommended to consume biotin-rich foods or consider taking a biotin supplement.
That being said, always talk to your doctor or seek professional medical advice before taking supplements during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Much of the research on the relationship of biotin and immunity has revealed the effects that biotin has on adaptive immunity, including contributing to cytotoxic T lymphocyte generation, the normal functioning of human natural killer lymphocytes, and the maturation as well as the responsiveness of immune cells.
Biotin deficiency is associated with increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Pro-inflammatory cytokines play a broad role in the immune response and can cause both positive and negative effects depending on several factors. In adequate amounts, cytokines can stimulate the immune system to fight disease. But high serum concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines can also promote inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.
Critical for normal immune cell makeup
Biotin deficiency is associated with higher levels of proinflammatory cytokines. Patients with multiple carboxylase deficiency, which is associated with biotin efficiency, have been reported to suffer from defects in immunity related to T cell and B cell function. Children who have hereditary biotin metabolism abnormalities have been reported to suffer from abnormal percentages of T lymphocytes in their peripheral blood, as well as Immunoglobulin A (IgA) deficiency.
Affects immune cell expression
Immune cell secretion of cytokines may rely to some extent on biotin status. Research has shown that supplementation with biotin influences human immune cell gene expression and likely affects the ability of immune cells to respond to antigens (a toxin or other foreign substance which induces an immune response in the body, especially the production of antibodies). If you’re interested in experiencing the benefits of biotin, we recommend taking an immune supplement with biotin in it.
Natural sources of biotin
You can find biotin in many everyday foods, including:
- Egg yolks
- Organ meats (kidney, liver)
- Whole grains and cereals
Biotin is generally considered safe for most children and adults.
Your frequently asked questions about biotin, answered.
Are biotin supplements safe?
Yes. Biotin dietary supplements are considered safe when taken appropriately. As always, talk to your doctor before taking any new supplement and only buy supplements from quality, reputable sources.
Are biotin and collagen the same?
No. Biotin and collagen are not the same. Collagen is an abundant protein found in bones, cartilage, muscles, and skin that provides strength and structure. Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin essential for energy metabolism.
Can biotin cause acne?
Some people claim that biotin could interfere with pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) absorption, which may help improve acne. However, there is not enough evidence to suggest that biotin does interfere with vitamin B5 absorption or that biotin supplements cause acne or other skin issues.
Does biotin cause weight gain?
There is no evidence that using biotin causes weight gain or loss.
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