There are many reasons why millions of people take a biotin supplement everyday. Some are hoping to improve the appearance and health of their hair, skin, and nails. Others are encouraged by medical professionals to use it during pregnancy and breastfeeding to help prevent the risk of birth defects. Whatever the reason, taking a biotin supplement seems to have many potential health benefits. So how do you know if you’re getting the proper nutrition? Find out who’s most at risk for a biotin deficiency in this blog post.
What is Biotin Deficiency?
Before we get into who might have a biotin deficiency, let’s examine what it means. Biotin, commonly known as vitamin B7, is part of the B-complex of vitamins. Its role in our bodies is to assist in the metabolization of key nutrients and enzymes that release energy at the cellular level. We receive biotin in three different ways – through our diet (organ meats like liver, egg yolks, and many vegetables contain biotin), through dietary supplements, and from naturally-occurring “good” bacteria that lives in our gut. Biotin deficiency is rare, but it does happen and can be quite serious if not attended to.
Common Signs of Biotin Deficiency
- Red, scaly skin
- Brittle, dry hair and nails
- Hair loss
Who’s at Risk for Biotin Deficiency?
Certain groups of people, whether through diet, hormonal changes or hereditary conditions are most at risk for developing biotin deficiency. They include:
Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women
Research shows that a substantial amount of pregnant women become biotin deficient. Some studies suggest as many at 30% of pregnant women may be affected, while others say as high as 70%. Biotin is important during pregnancy, because it is supports healthy fetal development. During the post-pregnancy nursing stage, biotin deficiencies often continue and can be passed to the infant through the mother’s breast milk. Infants who don’t receive enough biotin in breast milk may experience skin irritations, hair loss, or in severe cases – poor muscle tone, developmental delays, and more.
People Taking Antibiotics
If you are taking antibiotics, you could be temporarily destroying the good bacteria in your gut that naturally creates biotin. This could lead to a biotin deficiency. Biotin intake through food consumption is limited, so replenishing the bacteria that naturally makes biotin is pretty important. You may want to consider taking a biotin supplement in the meantime.
More research is needed, but there is some evidence that people who smoke cigarettes could develop a biotin deficiency. Experts believe this because smoking accelerates the degradation of many nutrients, including B-vitamins such as biotin, particularly in women. If you do smoke, consider adding a biotin supplement to your daily routine to replace the biotin that is lost, or stop smoking altogether.
People Who Take Certain Medications
Studies show patients who take anticonvulsants (medicines that reduce the severity and frequency of seizures) for an extended period of time often have lower levels of biotin than people who don’t. Medical experts say it appears these medications interfere with the intestinal absorption and renal re-absorption of biotin, which may lead to an overall deficiency.
Dieters who severely limit their calorie intake, or those who choose a diet high in carbohydrates might experience biotin deficiency due to a lack of biotin consumption in their daily regimen. Vegetarians and vegans also run this risk if they do not supplement enough biotin to make up for the lack of meat and fish in their diets.
Egg yolks are a great source of biotin, but consuming egg whites raw actually has the opposite effect. Egg whites contain high levels of avidin, a protein that binds biotin and prevents the body from absorbing it. Cooking the egg whites helps reduce this effect, but for the best results, go for the yolk.
For vegans, consider supplementing daily diet with more nuts and legumes, because they naturally contain sufficient levels of biotin. Whole grain breads, mushrooms, cauliflower, berries, and bananas are good sources of biotin, as well.
However, it’s important to remember that even with a balanced diet, you still may not be getting enough biotin to help maintain optimal health.
Daily Recommended Intake of Biotin*
- Infants 0 – 6 months: 5 mcg
- Infants 7 – 12 months: 6 mcg
- Children 1 – 3 years: 8 mcg
- Children 4 – 8 years: 12 mcg
- Children 9 – 13 years: 20 mcg
- Adolescents 14 – 18 years: 25 mcg
- Adults 19 years and older: 30 mcg
- Pregnant women: 30 mcg
- Breastfeeding women: 35 mcg
* According to the University of Maryland Medical Center
Biotin Supplements for Your Health
If you think you may have a biotin deficiency, shop for biotin supplements from Natural Healthy Concepts. It may make a difference to your health! Our diverse selection of biotin supplements include capsules, such as Biotin 1000 mcg from NOW Foods, vegetarian tablets, such as Biotin 10000 mcg Maximum Strength from Natrol, vegetarian capsules, such as Biotin 8 mg from Pure Encapsulations, and lozenges, such as Biotin 5000 mcg from Solaray. There are also formulas that include biotin as well as other nutrients to support healthy hair, skin and nails, such as this whole food supplement from Megafood. Place your order today and receive free domestic shipping!
Biotin (Vitamin B7) May Interfere with Lab Tests
According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), biotin may significantly interfere with certain lab tests and cause incorrect test results which may go undetected. These are included but not limited to cardiovascular diagnostic tests and hormone tests. If you are taking biotin, be sure to ask your doctor to inform the lab conducting any tests.
Have you had success overcoming a biotin deficiency? Tell us your story in the comments below!