Vitamin B7, also known as biotin, vitamin H or vitamin B8, is a water-soluble vitamin, required by all organisms. There are eight different forms of biotin, but only one of them, D-biotin, occurs naturally and has full vitamin activity. Biotin can only be synthesized by bacteria, molds, yeasts, algae, and by certain plant species
Why is vitamin B7 necessary?
Biotin has vital metabolic functions. Without biotin as a co-factor, many enzymes do not work properly, and serious complications can occur, including varied diseases of the skin, intestinal tract, and nervous system.
Biotin can help address high blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes, and may be helpful in maintaining healthy hair and nails, decreasing insulin resistance and improving glucose tolerance, and possibly preventing birth defects.
It plays a role in energy metabolism, and has been used to treat alopecia, cancer, Crohn’s disease, Hair loss, Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy, Rett syndrome, seborrheic dermatitis, and vaginal candidiasis.
Health Benefits of Biotin
Boosts Metabolism –
- Biotin is considered as a catalyst for controlling a number of metabolic reactions that provide energy from the metabolism of important components like fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
- These processes are very important for the human body to carry out routinely in order to work properly and stay in good shape.
Skin Care —
- Biotin is an essential component for maintaining good health of the skin and hair. It is also beneficial for keeping nails in good condition.
- It helps to revitalize reduced skin color due to pollution and bad health. This is why a person that experiences dry scalp or hair loss might be suffering from a deficiency of vitamin B7 in their diet.
Tissue maintenance —
- Biotin helps in the growth and maintenance of muscle tissues and repairing these tissues in case of any type of damage. It also ensures the proper functioning of nervous system tissues, along with an optimal growth of bone marrow.
- Biotin is helpful in reducing surplus fat from the human body and maintaining a healthy weight.
- People suffering from obesity are generally recommended by doctors to include food that is rich in this vitamin in their daily diet plan.
Protects Heart —
- Biotin is helpful for ensuring the proper functioning of the heart by relieving it from most crucial problems.
- It helps in reducing the level of cholesterol in the human body, which is a major cause of conditions like heart attacks, and strokes.
Optimizes health —
- Biotin is considered as a synthesizer for a number of vital components, which play irreplaceable roles in maintaining optimal health for the human body.
- For instance, this vitamin helps in the processing of glucose to extract appropriate amounts of energy. Also, it helps in the synthesis of fatty acids and amino acids within the body.
Controls Blood Sugar —
- It is a proven fact that biotin is helpful in maintaining proper levels of sugar in the blood, which is definitely good news for people that suffer from diabetes.
- It helps the human body to regulate insulin, thereby reducing the risk of widely fluctuating blood sugar levels, which can often lead to diabetes.
Other Benefits —
- Adding to the already long list, biotin is also helpful in treating a number of diseases like alopecia, Parkinson’s disease, Rett syndrome and vaginal candidiasis.
- Finally, it is a beneficial vitamin for the treatment of certain serious conditions like seborrhea dermatitis, Crohn’s disease, and peripheral neuropathy.
What are the signs of a vitmin B7 deficiency?
Biotin deficiency is rare. Daily requirements are relatively small, food sources of biotin are abundant, and the body efficiently recycles much of the biotin it has already used. However, long-term use of certain anti-seizure medications, prolonged oral antibiotic use, intestinal malabsorption, intravenous feeding, and eating raw egg whites on a regular basis can lead to biotin deficiency.
Symptoms of biotin deficiency include
- seborrheic dermatitis,
- dry skin,
- loss of appetite
- brittle hair/hair loss,
- intestinal tract issues,
- muscle pains, and
- nervous system issues.
Foods which contain Vitamin B7 –
Foods rich in biotin include
- Soya bean
- Cashew nuts
- Sunflower seeds
- Egg yolks,
- potato and
Daily adequate intake –
- 30 mcg in adults 19 years and older
- 30 mcg for pregnant women
- 35 mcg for breastfeeding women
- 5 mcg daily for infants ages 0-6 months
- 8 mcg daily for children 1-3 years of age
- 12 mcg daily for children ages 4-8 years
- 20 mcg daily for children 9-13 years
- 25 mcg for adolescents
Vitamin B7 Side effects –
- May cause Acne — Too much biotin in the system can cause cystic acne on the chin and jaw line. This vitamin increases sebum production in the skin, making way for ruptures and dirt accumulation. But it has been noted that acne fades away a few weeks after the biotin dosage is stopped.
- May cause Allergic reactions — Some people may suffer from allergies due to the intake of biotin supplements. The allergic reactions are not very common, but there have been cases of people suffering from it. The allergic reaction could be a feeling of nausea, swelling of the throat and face, development of itchy rashes, tightness, or pain in the chest
- Effects during pregnancy — One of the serious biotin effects is during pregnancy. Pregnant women should avoid taking high doses of Biotin. This vitamin may increase the risk of miscarriage. Though no tests have been performed on humans to confirm this, it is always better to consult a doctor before taking biotin during pregnancy.
- Frequency of Urination — There have been unsubstantiated reports that higher dosage of biotin can cause an increase in the need to urinate. There can be an unusual amount of sweating too due to the consumption of biotin in high dosages.
- May cause Diarrhea — Individuals on a high dosage of this supplement may also suffer from stomach cramps and diarrhea. When such a condition is observed, it is best to stop biotin consumption immediately!
- Nausea — Many of those who take biotin supplements complain of mild nausea during the initial stages. With time, this side effect tends to taper off.
- May Increase Blood Glucose Levels — A study has shown that biotin supplement is not recommended for those with diabetes as this vitamin increases the production of glucose and fatty acids in the body.
Precautions To Be Taken While Using Biotin —
All the above biotin side effects might sound scary, but they won’t touch you if you take the supplements in a proper manner and at the right time. Don’t worry, keep the following points in mind while taking biotin to enjoy all the health benefits it offers. Have a look:
- Keep yourself hydrated—Drink up! Have around two liters of water every day, as dehydration can lower biotin levels in the body.
- Stay away from alcohol, smoking, and drugs—This is because alcohol and drugs are known to dehydrate our body, leading to a biotin deficiency.
- Avoid having more that two egg whites in a day.
- If it’s your first time taking any supplements, it’s better that you start with a lower dose, increasing gradually.
- Do not have them on an empty stomach—It’s absolutely essential to have biotin supplements with meals, regardless of the time you are taking them.
- Try not being overly dependent on biotin supplements. As much as biotin is essential, you can always get them from the right food sources.
- It is advised to take biotin supplement with other multivitamins to avoid any vitamin imbalances.
- Don’t try to play the doctor. Get your health specialist’s advice before starting biotin dose. Consult your general physician and discuss any underlying health conditions that you are suffering from. It will help the doctor prescribe the right dosages for your health condition. If you face any side effects, rush to the healthcare center immediately.
Stay fit, stay healthy!
I’m Dr. Malini Bhat MD (Ayu); an Ayurvedic Doctor and a health blogger. Follow me on social media to get daily health tips which you can easily adapt to a healthy lifestyle.