What is biotin?
The name biotin comes from 'Bio' the Greek word meaning life1
, and is an essential water soluble vitamin also known as vitamin B7 that we must obtain from our diet..Why does it matter to me?
Severe biotin deficiency is rare because it is present in a wide variety of foods2. However, avoiding mild deficiency is important since this vitamin may have the following health benefits.
Energy Yielding Metabolism and Macronutrient Nutrient Deficiency
Biotin is an essential cofactor for five enzymes (carboxylases) that are important for the metabolism of fats, protein and sugars. These are the major sources of energy present in food and used by the body to maintain good health3.
Maintenance of Normal Hair
One symptom of severe biotin deficiency is alopecia (hair loss). Therefore, biotin may play some role in maintaining the development of healthy hair in healthy individuals4,5.
Maintenance of Normal Skin
Severe biotin deficiency an also produces symptoms of dermatitis (itchy, dry skin or a rash on swollen, reddened skin). This suggests that biotin may play a role in the maintenance of healthy skin6.
Maintenance of Mucous Membranes
Another symptom of severe biotin deficiency is the development of conjunctivitis (inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane that lines your eyelid and covers the white part of your eyeball). This suggests that biotin may ensure that mucous membranes are maintained in a healthy state7.
Contribution to Normal Nervous System and Psychological Function
Severe biotin deficiency appears to have negative psychological consequences. For example, patients can display symptoms of depression and anxiety. This suggests that biotin may have important functions within the brain that, when disturbed, may cause serious neuropsychological conditions8.
Recent evidence suggests that biotin binds to histone proteins which are closely associated with DNA in the nucleus of cells. Therefore, it has been suggested that biotin may play a role in regulating gene expression. This is important because when genes function abnormally this can increase the likelihood of developing many forms of cancer9.
Biotin may also interact with folate to regulate inflammatory responses10 that may, in turn, contribute to the development and/or aggravation of several diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis (MS)11.
Research strongly suggests that pregnant women should ensure adequate intakes of biotin to protect their babies from potential defects12,13
How much should I have?
We are using the EFSA’s AI (adequate intake) values for children, men, women, and pregnant women. The AI is set at a level assumed to be optimum to contribute to a reduction in the risk of chronic disease.