Are You Deficient in the Nutrient Biotin?
Few people have even heard of the nutrient biotin so they’ve probably never given any consideration to the fact that they may be deficient in it. So, what exactly is biotin and are you deficient in it? Keep reading to find out.
Biotin is one of the many nutrients that make up the B-complex vitamins. It is also known as Vitamin H or B7. Like other B complex vitamins, biotin plays a role in many critical life functions including energy production and emotional health. Additionally, the B complex vitamins play the role of coenzymes that ensure that a wide variety of biochemical processes can occur in a balanced and healthy manner.
Biotin, specifically, is heavily involved in energy creation, digestion and absorption of fatty acids from fats as well as amino acids from protein in foods. It also helps in the synthesis of a compound called glycogen, which is a form of stored energy in the body.
Research published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition found that biotin was helpful for those suffering from type 2 diabetes. The researchers believe that the study dose of 9 micrograms of biotin daily aided glucose metabolism, which is impaired in those with type 2 diabetes.
And, as if that wasn’t enough reason to love this essential nutrient, it also plays a role in determining whether genes express themselves. Diseases may be inherent in our genes or the result of damaged genes, but presence alone does not mean we are doomed to suffer from these genetic-related conditions, as the relatively new field of nutrigenomics finds. Nutrigenomics explores the food and nutrient connection to genetics. In the case of biotin, the nutrient has been found to be a key regulator of gene expression—whether the diseases in our genes manifest themselves.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF A BIOTIN DEFICIENCY
There are many symptoms of a biotin deficiency, some of which include:
-Dermatitis or Skin Rashes
-Ataxia—a lack of coordination or unsteadiness usually related to a disturbance in the cerebellum, a part of the brain linked that controls balance
-Numbness and Tingling of the Extremities
Due to a lack of research, it is not completely clear how much biotin people need to ward off a deficiency, but estimates suggest the following requirements:
Infants: 5-6 micrograms
Children 1 to 13: 8 to 20 micrograms, with 8 for the youngest children and 20 for 9 to 13-year-olds
Adolescents: 14 to 18: 25 micrograms
Adults 19+ (including pregnant women): 30 micrograms
Women who are breast-feeding: 35 micrograms
Researchers believe that supplementation with biotin may be helpful for people suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS).
FOOD SOURCES OF BIOTIN
There are many foods that are rich in the nutrient biotin, some of which include:
Almonds—one-quarter cup contains 14.72 micrograms of biotin
Sweet Potato—one cup contains 8.6 micrograms of biotin
Eggs—1 egg contains 8 micrograms of biotin
Onions—1 cup contains 7.98 micrograms of biotin
Oats—one-quarter cup contains 7.8 micrograms of biotin
Tomatoes—one cup of tomatoes contains 7.2 micrograms of biotin
Peanuts—one-quarter cup contains 6.4 micrograms of biotin—choose raw, unsalted peanuts stored in the refrigerator since peanuts can be vulnerable to aflatoxins—a type of mold that can damage the body
Carrots—one cup of carrots contains 6.1 micrograms of biotin
Walnuts—one-quarter cup of walnuts contains 5.7 micrograms of biotin—choose raw, unsalted walnuts stored in the refrigerator section of your health food store since the Omega 3 fatty acids also found in them are highly vulnerable to heat.
Salmon—4 ounces of salmon contains 4.54 micrograms of biotin—choose wild salmon over farmed salmon since the latter frequently contains high amounts of mercury or other toxins.
If you eat uncooked egg whites on a fairly regular basis you may be at a higher risk of a biotin deficiency due to compounds in the egg whites that bind with biotin and prevent the nutrient’s absorption.
Biotin is found in most B-complex vitamins. Since the B-complex nutrients work best when taken together it is best to supplement with a B-complex rather than biotin on its own. Most supplements contain 50 micrograms of biotin but read the label of the product you choose. One capsule daily is usually sufficient for most people but those suffering from diabetes or MS may benefit from higher doses.