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What is biotin?
Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that belongs to the group
of B vitamins. It is obtained not only by eating certain foods
but is also produced by bacteria in the intestines. Since
biotin is not stored in body fat, after the body uses what
it needs, any excess is excreted in the urine.
Why do we need it?
Biotin plays a number of roles in the human body. Like the
other B vitamins, it is essential for the metabolism of proteins
and carbohydrates into energy. It is involved in the production
of amino acid proteins and fatty acids, aids in the synthesis
of hormones and cholesterol, and contributes to the growth
of healthy skin and hair follicles.
How much biotin should I take?
Although no recommended daily allowances (RDA) have been
established for biotin; however, most health experts generally
agree on the following amounts:
- Adult men: between 30-100 milligrams/day
- Adult women: between 30-100 milligrams/day
- Children aged 7-10: 30 milligrams/day
- Infants: 15 milligrams/day
- Pregnant/lactating women: between 30-100 milligrams/day.
What are some good sources of biotin?
In addition to being produced naturally by the body, biotin
can be found in a number of food sources. Among the best sources
are eggs, milk, mushrooms, bananas, tomatoes, whole-grain
cereals, nuts, yeast, broccoli, potatoes (white and sweet)
and lean beef.
What can happen if I don't get enough
Biotin deficiency is almost unheard of; however, deficiencies
can be caused by surgical removal of the stomach, or by being
on an inadequate or unusual diet. Raw egg whites, for instance,
bind biotin and make it unavailable for absorption. Alcohol
and tobacco also decrease biotin absorption.
Biotin deficiency may lead to dermatitis, brittle nails and
hair loss. Severe deficiency can lead to high blood cholesterol
levels and heart problems.
What can happen if I take too much?
There is no evidence of toxicity with biotin. Because it
is water-soluble and is not stored in the body, the chances
of enough biotin building up to toxic levels are highly unlikely.
Most people taking multivitamins with high levels of biotin
or eating foods rich in amounts of biotin need not worry about
Other Resources :
More You Know About Minerals
More You Know About Nutrition
Drug information for biotin. Available
from Intelihealth (www.intelihealth.com).
Vitamins, carotenoids and phytochemicals. Available
from WebMD (http://my.webmd.com/content/dmk/dmk_article_40088).
Feinstein A. Prevention's Healing with Vitamins.
Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, Inc., 1996.
Kennedy R. Biotin. Doctor's Medical Library
January 15, 1999.
Zempleni J, Mock DM. Biotin biochemistry and human
requirements. J Nutr Biochem 1999;10:12838.
Hochman LG, Scher RK, Meyerson MS. Brittle nails: responses
to daily biotin supplementation. Cutis 1993;51(4):3035.