The vitamins information pages - Biotin
After 40 years of extensive research, biotin was finally classified as a B-complex vitamin. It is water-soluble and required by all organisms. Biotin is synthesized by bacteria, moulds, yeasts, algae and some plant species. Bacteria produce biotin in human intestines. Humans absorb biotin form food. It is not known whether humans can absorb a usable amount of the biotin synthesized by bacteria.
Biotin is present in the skin, hair, nerves and bone marrow. Its enzymes play a vital role in carbohydrate, fat, amino acid and protein synthesis for energy provision. Biotin enzymes also bind to histones that are an important part of DNA synthesis. This means that biotin probably plays a role in DNA replication and transcription. Biotin deficiency causes skin, nail and hair loss. It may also result in weakness, depression, hallucination, numbness, fatigue, irritation, rashes, loss of appetite, and even depression.
Biotin in food
Biotin is found in various food stuffs in generally lower amounts than other water-soluble vitamins. Biotin containing food products include bread, brown rice, bran cereals, egg yolk, yeast, nuts, beans, peas, cauliflower, liver, kidney and fish.
Biotin as a supplement
Athletes often take biotin because they are most likely to experience a deficit. Biotin supplements may be recommended in case of skin, nail and hair loss.
Biotin supplements contain iron, because the two are closely linked. Antibiotics and some other forms of medication may affect biotin production by bacteria in the intestines. Avidin, a protein found in egg white, can bind biotin and prevent it from practising its functions. This can be preventing by backing or boiling eggs. Anticonvulsants inhibit biotin absorption in the small intestine or increase unrinary excretion of the vitamin. Patothenic acid (vitamin B5) competes with biotin for intestinal and cellular uptake because of similarities in the structure.
Consuming raw egg white may cause biotin deficits. Biotin deficiency is relatively common in pregnant women, because excretion levels are higher. Pregnant women are advised to take addition biotin (at least 400 µg/ day).
Descriptions of vitamins on this website are based on information provided by BBC Health and The Linus Pauling Institute.