Biological Importance of Biotin

There is no upper limit set for biotin intake
Plenty of Foods Around us are Naturally Rich in Biotin

Biotin is a B vitamin that is present in different foods naturally and hence, very rarely supplementation might be required.

What is the Need for Biotin?

Biotin plays a vital role in healthy skin, nerves, digestive system and metabolism. Small studies indicate the effectiveness of biotin in healing brittle nails, but the evidences are not conclusive. Few case reports reveal that biotin might be helpful in promoting hair health, but these have been reported only in children. Further studies and research are needed to conclusively prove any advantage of biotin in hair, skin and nail health.

The main advantage to humans is that, most of us don’t require biotin supplements as the foods we eat are rich in this nutrient. Our bodies also reuse the biotin we have already used. Hence, biotin deficiency is a rarity.

Signs that Reveal the News that You Lack in Biotin

Signs of biotin deficiency do not appear overnight and take their own sweet time to show up. Hair thinning with progressive hair loss all over the body, red rash seen in body openings such as perineum, eyes, nose and mouth, ketolactic acidosis, aciduria, brittle nails, lethargy, depression, hallucination, seizures and skin infections are common symptoms in adults. In infants, deficiency manifests in the form of hypotonia, lethargy and delayed development stages.

Some individuals are at a greater risk of deficiency:

  1. Individuals who are addicted to alcohol have decreased biotin absorption.
  2. Some individuals have biotindase deficiency where the body inhibits the release of biotin, thereby decreasing biotin levels. These individuals need treatment to prevent any hazardous side effects such as neurological and cutaneous symptoms that can sometimes lead to coma or even death.
  3. Some pregnant and breastfeeding women might need additional biotin, in terms of supplements maybe, as plasma biotin concentration decreases even when their biotin intake exceeds recommended AI levels. This is prevalent at least in one-third of pregnant and lactating women.

Required Biotin Intake Values & Sources

Adequate intake (AI) levels of biotin have been defined and these must be fulfilled, with or without the help of supplements, for good health.

Age AI Recommendation(mcg/day) Pregnancy Lactation
0-6 months 5    
7-12 months 6    
1-3 years 8    
4-8 years 12    
9-13 years 20    
14-18 years 25 30 mcg/day 35 mcg/day
19 years & above 30 30 mcg/day 35 mcg/day

There are plenty of foods that contain some quantities of biotin. Biotin-rich foods include fish, meat, seeds, nuts and vegetables such as sweet potatoes. Plant variety and season can affect the biotin content of cereal grains while some processing techniques can also decrease biotin content in certain foods.

Even increased intake of biotin is found to be safe and the maximum safety limit for consumption is still unknown.  Breastfeeding/pregnant women and individuals on certain medications should talk to their physician before consuming biotin supplements.

Rule of thumb should be to:

  • Include plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Instead of eating the same stir-fry vegetables and fruit bowl daily, you can explore different options given at the website
  • Add different protein foods such as seafoods, lean meat, poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds and soy products.
  • Limit foods rich in saturated and trans fat.
  • Consume only the required calories for the day.

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