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What is Biotin and What Does It Do?

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what is biotin

What is biotin, and why should you take a daily biotin supplement? Find out more here.

It’s the beauty buzz word of the last few years, but what is biotin? Also known as vitamin B7 and in some older research studies as vitamin H or coenzyme R, biotin is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin that’s crucial to maintaining healthy-looking hair, skin, nails, and more. Learn about this important vitamin in this blog post.

What is Biotin, and How Does It Work?

Biotin  is absorbed in our bodies either through diet or nutritional supplementation. Biotin is also created through naturally occurring “good” bacteria that live in our intestines. There are many benefits to this important vitamin, yet many people still ask the question, “What is biotin?”

Biotin is crucial to our body’s natural process because it helps with cell growth and assists in the metabolism of fats and amino acids to produce energy. It also helps with the production of fatty acids. So simply said – it helps the body convert food into energy. Many people take biotin supplements if they are not getting enough biotin naturally, or if they want to support stronger and longer hair or nails. That’s why biotin is often found in beauty products such as shampoos, conditioners, and other hair products.

How Do We Get Biotin?

Biotin occurs naturally in many of the foods we eat everyday. Those with the highest levels of biotin include egg yolks, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables, fish (salmon, sardines and tuna are great sources), and organ meats such as liver. We also produce biotin inside our bodies through naturally occurring bacteria that live in our intestines. Most people eat enough biotin in their diet or produce enough in their gut to be fine. However, biotin deficiencies can occur and they can have serious consequences. That’s why it’s important to take biotin supplements if you’re not receiving enough of this important nutrient naturally.

What Happens if We Don’t Get Enough?

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to spot a biotin deficiency. Common signs are red scaly patches of skin, dry brittle nails that chip and crack easily, and thinning hair that is dry and breaks easily. Other, more serious and even fatal conditions can occur.

Should I Take a Biotin Supplement?

Chances are that you may be getting enough biotin naturally, but if you start to notice signs of a deficiency, taking a biotin supplement, such as Biotin 5000 mcg from Solgar or from Jarrow Formulas, could help. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are often encouraged by medical professionals to take a biotin supplement as studies show that many of them become biotin deficient during pregnancy, which can then be passed on to the infant during nursing through breast milk. Those with insulin disorders, those taking anticonvulsant medication or antibiotics, and people who are bald or struggling with hair loss are also encouraged to try biotin supplements.

Other Potential Benefits of Biotin

Most people seek out biotin for the benefits it can have for the healthy appearance of hair, skin, and nails. More studies are needed to prove that using biotin can improve hair growth, but there is evidence that a biotin deficiency can cause hair loss so at the very least, the two are connected. The same goes for your skin. Skin irritations are one of the symptoms of biotin deficiency, so it makes sense that this B vitamin could potentially help improve your skin’s appearance. Many people have also reported seeing stronger, healthier looking nails after taking a biotin supplement, which is why many beauty companies have now started adding it to their products.

How Much Biotin Should I Take?

It’s always a good idea to talk to a healthcare professional before adding any dietary supplement to your daily routine. Taking too much of any supplement (biotin included) can have adverse side effects, so it’s best to stick to the daily recommended guidelines:

  • 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 (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 luck using biotin? Tell us your story in the comments below!

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