How Biotin Works


You may not have heard much about this B vitamin, but that's easy to understand. Although it helps our bodies convert food to energy, the importance of biotin was discovered only about 60 years ago. Most of us get more than enough biotin in our regular diets. In this article you'll learn what it is, which foods have it, and some of the ways it keeps us healthy. Here's what you will learn:

  • What Is Biotin?Biotin acts as a coenzyme in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, the breakdown of proteins to urea, and the conversion of amino acids from protein into blood sugar for energy. You should eat at least 30 micrograms a day; fortunately, most of us get 3 to 10 times that much. On this page you'll learn how it was discovered and how to avoid a rare biotin deficiency.
  • Benefits of BiotinIn addition to its metabolic properties, biotin also has some health benefits. When normal intake of biotin is supplemented, it strengthens fingernails, relieves a scalp condition in newborns, and is very effective at controlling blood sugar levels in diabetics. On this page you'll learn how high of a dose to take to achieve these healthy effects.

Biotin is just one of the many vitamins that are part of a healthy diet. Check out the following links to learn more:

  • Relax; you'll find the stress-busting Vitamin B5 in every food you eat. Learn about it at How Vitamin B5 Works.
  • Vitamin B6 is effective against more than 100 ailments. How Vitamin B6 Works will explain the details and tell you how to get enough in your diet.
  • Everyone knows Vitamin C fights the common cold. Learn how it does the trick at How Vitamin C Works.
  • Your body can make its own Vitamin D if you get enough sunshine. Learn the details at How Vitamin D Works.
  • Vitamin K plays a vital role in blood clotting. Learn more at How Vitamin K Works.
  • To learn about the many vitamins in our diet, how much you should be eating, and where to find them, go to our general Vitamins page.
  • If you were looking for the best prices on B vitamin supplements, click here. //]]]]> ]]>

What Is Biotin?

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Raw egg whites can neutralize biotin, so always cook your eggs.

Biotin is one of the agents that converts our food into energy. Fortunately, most people's diets contain foods that provide more than enough biotin to keep us healthy. However, if you're on certain medications or if you drink too much alcohol, it's possible to develop a biotin deficiency, although this condition is very rare.

In the 1930s, an investigator at the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine in London, England, found that after feeding rats raw egg whites for several weeks they developed an eczemalike skin condition, lost their hair, became paralyzed, and hemorrhaged under the skin. It was 1940 before scientist Paul Gyorgy identified the vitamin that could help. Soon after, scientists realized it was another member of the B complex and named it biotin.

Biotin acts as a coenzyme in several metabolic reactions. It functions in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, the breakdown of proteins to urea, and the conversion of amino acids from protein into blood sugar for energy.

Milk, liver, egg yolk, yeast, and dried peas and beans are good sources of biotin. Nuts and mushrooms contain smaller amounts of the vitamin. Bacteria in the intestinal tract can also make biotin.

The RDA for biotin is 30 micrograms (mcg) per day. The typical varied diet of Americans provides about 100 to 300 mcg. This is plenty for healthy people, especially when added to that produced by intestinal bacteria. The elderly, athletes, and burn victims may need more biotin than the general population.

A deficiency of biotin occurs only in unusual circumstances, such as when eating large amounts of raw egg whites. Raw egg whites contain a substance called avidin that ties up biotin, preventing its absorption. Cooking egg whites deactivates the avidin.

A biotin deficiency can also result from prolonged use of antibiotic medications that destroy intestinal bacteria, but this only leads to true deficiency when combined with a diet that lacks sufficient biotin. Alcoholics may become deficient in this and other B vitamins since alcohol inhibits absorption and interferes with metabolism.

Some people are born with an inherited disorder that increases their need for biotin. In this situation, a supplement may be necessary to prevent a biotin deficiency.

On the next page you'll learn some of the ways that biotin can also keep people healthy, especially newborns and diabetics.

Biotin is just one of the many vitamins that are part of a healthy diet. Check out the following links to learn more:

  • Vitamin A plays an essential role in eyesight. Learn how it helps us to see, even in the dark, at How Vitamin A Works.
  • Vitamin B1, or thiamin, is one of the essentil vitamins added back to "enriched" foods. Learn about it at How Vitamin B1 Works.
  • When teamed with other B vitamins, B2 helps in metabolism. Find out what it does at How Vitamin B2 Works.
  • Found mostly in protein, Vitamin B3 keeps us strong. How Vitamin B3 Works explains what happens if you don't get enough of it.
  • Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which keeps the blood clean. Separate truth from fiction at How Vitamin E Works.
  • To learn about the many vitamins in our diet, how much you should be eating, and where to find them, go to our general Vitamins page.
  • If you were looking for the best prices on B vitamin supplements, click here.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Benefits of Biotin

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Biotin can strengthen fingernails, but its biggest impact may be in controlling diabetes.

Back in the 1940s, livestock researchers noticed that biotin made horse and pig hooves harder and stronger. More recently, this vitamin has been shown to strengthen nails in people whose nails are brittle. Daily supplementation of 2,500 mcg significantly increased nail thickness in about 90 percent of the patients.

Biotin is successful in treating cradle cap -- the dry or greasy scaly patches that form on the scalp of some infants. Although large studies have not been done on this use of biotin, infants' scalp conditions improved when their mothers were given extra biotin. Non-nursing infants benefited from direct supplementation.

Additional biotin does not seem to help seborrheic dermatitis, which is the same condition when it occurs in adults. Biotin's role in proper fatty acid metabolism may be responsible for its cradle-cap success.

Diabetics may also benefit from biotin supplementation. In both insulin-dependent and non-insulin-dependent diabetes, supplementation with biotin can improve blood sugar control and help lower fasting blood glucose levels, in some studies the reduction in fasting glucose exceeded 50 percent! Biotin can also play a role in preventing the neuropathy often associated with diabetes, reducing both the numbness and tingling associated with poor glucose control.

A typical dose for nursing mothers is 3,000 mcg twice a day. Non-nursing infants respond with 300 mcg per day. It's also a good idea to give non-nursing infants supplements of "friendly" bacteria such as Bifidobacterium bifidum to establish healthy intestinal flora that will produce biotin. People with diabetes have noticed good results at a dosage level of 8 milligrams (8,000 mcg) taken twice a day.

You probably didn't know you were getting more biotin than you needed already in your diet. But we hope this article enlightened the special-needs readers and help you get the proper dose.

Biotin is just one of the many vitamins that are part of a healthy diet. Check out the following links to learn more:

  • Relax; you'll find the stress-busting vitamin B5 in every food you eat. Learn about it at How Vitamin B5 Works.
  • Vitamin B6 is effective against more than 100 ailments. How Vitamin B6 Works will explain the details and tell you how to get enough in your diet.
  • Folate is necessary for healthy growth, because it makes DNA and RNA. Learn how it manufactures cells at How Folate Works.
  • Vitamin B12, which helps folate make cells, works differently than any other vitamin. Learn the details at How Vitamin B12 Works.
  • Everyone knows vitamin C fights the common cold. Learn how it does the trick at How Vitamin C Works.
  • To learn about the many vitamins in our diet, how much you should be eating, and where to find them, go to our general Vitamins page.
  • If you were looking for the best prices on B vitamin supplements, click here.

Jennifer Brett, N.D. is director of the Acupuncture Institute for the University of Bridgeport, where she also serves on the faculty for the College of Naturopathic Medicine. A recognized leader in her field with an extensive background in treating a wide variety of disorders utilizing nutritional and botanical remedies, Dr. Brett has appeared on WABC TV (NYC) and on Good Morning America to discuss utilizing herbs for health.This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.