The Biotin Brief

 

Biotin. We hear it referenced in countless health and beauty articles while being touted by physicians everywhere as a crucial nutrient necessary to our diet. It’s touted as a miracle for hair and nails. But what exactly is it, anyway?

The word “biotin” comes from the ancient Greek word “biotos,” which means “life” or “sustenance.” B vitamins, such as biotin, help keep our skin, hair, eyes, liver, and nervous system healthy. Most of us get our biotin from eating a healthy diet, but there are many claims that getting more (via supplements) can regulate blood sugar and promote hair growth.

Biotin is found in B-complex supplements or supplements labeled “Energy Complex” or “Adrenal Support.” These supplements contain the whole gamut of B vitamins, including B riboflavin, vitamin B3 niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. These “B” vitamins work synergistically to stimulate brain function, nerve activity, and metabolism stimulation. To ensure that you’re getting a sufficient amount of biotin and maximizing its benefits, the recommended daily dosage for adults is 30 mcg, according to healthcare professionals.

Biotin deficiency is fairly rare. However, some people – such as pregnant women and people who drink high amounts of alcohol – may develop mild deficiencies. Interestingly, eating raw eggs on a regular basis can cause biotin deficiency. This is because raw egg whites contain a protein called avidin that binds to biotin, preventing the body from absorbing it. (I don’t think there are many raw egg white consumers out there, though!) Cooking the eggs deactivates their avidin, so most of you won’t need to worry.

Many commercial companies include biotin in their beauty products, so we will often see shampoos and makeup containing biotin. And it has been extremely effective for some. Getting enough of this “wonder” supplement also works as a preventative measure, protecting skin from such conditions as fungal infections and acne. Biotin is something we all need in order to maintain proper nerve and digestive health. And, a little bit of “beauty” health is always a good thing, too!

Biotin exists in a wide variety of foods, which helps explain why a deficiency in the vitamin is fairly rare. Foods that are particularly high in biotin include:

  • Cheese

  • Leafy greens, such as spinach

  • Legumes, such as soybeans and peanuts

  • Cauliflower

  • Salmon

  • Yeast

  • Avocados

  • Raspberries

  • Mushrooms

Remember, it’s always important to consult with your doctor before taking supplements.