Biotin is one of several water-soluble B vitamins and is referred to as B7 or sometimes vitamin H. Biotin is used for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat and proteins as well as repairing of DNA, regulation of glucose metabolism and proper immune functio
Hair and nails are a type of modified skin cells, which is why skin, hair and nails are often grouped together when considering health. Skin acts as a barrier to the outside world and protects the internal organs and tissues. The outer layer of skin known as the epidermis contains three types of cells, one of which is keratin. Keratin is a type of protein that is a basic component of skin, hair and nails. Hair grows by forming new cells at the base of the root embedded in the skin. As the cells multiply and produce keratin to harden the structure, they get pushed to the surface and form the shaft of the hair. Nails are also formed by skin cells hardening to form keratin as they move to the surface of the skin.
As all three are fast growing structures, they need adequate and consistent amounts of nutrients to do so. They are often the first structures to show signs of deficiencies or imbalances in the body. The following are some examples of changes in hair, skin and nails that may indicate a deficiency in one or several micronutrients. Scaly skin and/ or lips- biotin, essential fatty acids Dandruff- vitamin B2, B6, zinc, magnesium,biotin Graying Hair- folic acid, biotin, vitamin B5 Brittle, dry hair- zinc,vitamin A Hair loss- deficiency in zinc, vitamin B6, sulfur, selenium, biotin Brittle nails- biotin, vitamin A, C, calcium Many of these nutrients may be familiar to you, however while biotin is one that is common to many of the conditions listed above, it is not as commonly discussed.
So What Is Biotin? Why Do You need it?
Biotin is one of several water-soluble B vitamins and is referred to as B7 or sometimes vitamin H. Biotin is used for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat and proteins as well as repairing of DNA, regulation of glucose metabolism and proper immune function. The use of biotin as a treatment for nail and hair issues was suggested for humans after it was found to improve immune function in horse’s hoofs. Since then, a human study demonstrated improvements in nail thickness and decreases in splitting and irregularities of the nail plate with 3-6 months of treatment with supplemental biotin. While the human body is unable to directly produce biotin, certain types of good bacteria present in a healthy human digestive system synthesize biotin for the body touse. Biotin is also widely available in foods such as organ meats, egg yolks, some vegetables and cows milk. The majority of biotin found in food is bound to a protein and thus requires a certain enzyme (biotinase) to act on it before it can be absorbed by the body.
Obvious deficiency in biotin usually only occurs in people that are deficient in this enzyme or in people that consume a large amount of raw egg whites, as the Avidin protein found in egg whites binds to biotin and prevents absorption. Deficiency can also be possible in pregnant women, those not consuming a well-balanced diet and those who have inflammatory bowel disease and/or gut dysbiosis where insufficient amounts of healthy gut bacteria limit biotin production. The actual recommended amount of biotin is unknown since healthy gut bacteria do contribute to the total biotin levels in the body. The National Academy of Medicine has indicated that an adequate intake of biotin is 30 micrograms for adult men and women, however there are studies which indicate that it appears to be safe even at much higher milligram doses.
References: Blindness on the Rise in Canada. (May 22, 2013) Retrieved from http://news.nationalpost.com/health/vision/blindness-on-therise-in-canada Zampatti S, Ricci F, Cusumano A, Marsella LT, Novelli G, Giardina E. Review of nutrient actions on age-related macular degeneration. Nutr Res. 2014 Feb;34(2):95-105. Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 Research Group. Lutein + zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids for age-related macular degeneration: the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2013 May 15;309(19):2005-15.