Vitamin B7

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A water soluble vitamin, also known as Biotin. It is sometimes but rarely it is referred to as vitamin B7 or vitamin H. It is found in the food sources beef, liver, egg yolk, brewer’s yeast, brown, rice, and peanut butter. The Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) for both males and females in the UK is 30mcg.

What is it needed for?

Biotin functions in the manufacture and utilization of fats and amino acids. It has been shown to support energy yielding metabolism, normal macronutrient and physiological function and the maintenance of normal hair, skin and mucous membranes.

Deficiency

Deficiency is characterized in adults by dry scaly skin, nausea, anorexia and seborrhea, a inflammatory skin condition which causes white, yellowish scales to form on areas such as the scalp and inner ears. Biotin deficiency is also associated with hair loss, brittle nails and neurological issues such as depression, lethargy, hallucinations, and paresthesias of the extremities.

Evidence

Nervous system (Alzheimer’s Disease)- Biotin plays a role in all chemical reactions occurring within the cells including brain and nerve cells and therefore it is considered to contribute to the health of the nervous system (1).Insufficient biotin results in impaired synthesis of long-chain essential fatty acids, even with adequate consumption. Abnormal metabolism or insufficient dietary intake of EFAs has been linked to the development or worsening of a number of diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (2).

Skin Health– There is evidence to suggest biotin supplements help to support the health of the skin. Studies have demonstrated that biotin supplements showed dramatic improvements in skin rashes and dermatitis (3). Furthermore, symptoms of scaly, red skin as a result of biotin deficiency has been shown to be reversable with Biotin supplementation (4).

Healthy Hair-The use of Biotin in maintaining the health of the hair has been reported in many studies. The effect of high doses of biotin on alopecia and hair quality was reported by Floersheim, 1992 (5). Mock, 2005 (4) reports the growth of normal hair generally appears after one or two months of treatment of Biotin deficiency. Furthermore, in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study involving healthy women aged 21 to 75 years with temporary hair thinning found improvements in overall hair volume, scalp coverage, and thickness of hair body after 90 days with Biotin supplementation. In the same study additional improvements after 180 days included hair shine, skin moisture retention, and skin smoothness. (6).

Brittle Nails-A deficiency sign of Biotin is brittle nails which has led scientists to explore the role of Biotin in nail health. One study involving 22 women with soft, brittle nails demonstrated an increase in nail thickness by 25% after taking Biotin for 6-15 months (7). Another study involving 45 patients with thin and brittle fingernails resulted in firmer and harder fingernails in 41 of the patients (91%) (8). A third, retrospective study in 35 patients with brittle nails found that supplementing with biotin for 6–15 months resulted in clinical improvement in 22 of the 35 patients (63%) (9).

Our take on how Biotin may help you, based upon EU approved claims;

Digestive support- Biotin contributes to normal energy yielding metabolism. It is thought to be required for the correct absorption and metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and proteins, making it valuable for people whose diets, are high in these nutrients. It helps support correct growth and development as it contributes to normal macronutrient metabolism.

Stress– Biotin contributes to the normal function of the nervous system. This means it may help support cases of stress and low mood and other related symptoms.

Thinning or greying hair– Biotin contributes to the maintenance of normal hair. Deficiencies are therefore linked with falling hair or premature greying. A supplement may help prevent such a deficiency.

Acne, eczema and psoriasis– Biotin contributes to the maintenance of normal skin. Deficiencies are linked with skin conditions such as eczema, and dermatitis so a supplement may be of benefit in helping to prevent such a deficiency.

Brittle Nails– Evidence suggests Biotin supplementation can help to strengthen the nails and can also make them less prone to splitting.

Safety and side effects  

Biotin is considered to be extremely safe. No adverse effects have been reported with Biotin supplementation. No established Tolerable Upper Intake Level has been established for Biotin supplementation.

References

  1. Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012 of 16 May 2012 establishing a list of permitted health claims made on foods, other than those referring to the reduction of disease risk and to children’s development and health, O.J.o.t.E. Union, Editor. 2012. p. 40
  2. Ho, Richard C. and Cordain, Loren. Ranjit Chandra: The Potential Role of Biotin Insufficiency on Essential Fatty Acid Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease Risk.. 8, Newfoundland: Elsevier Inc., August 2000, Nutrition Research, Vol. 20, pp. 1201-1212. DOI: 10.1016/S0271-5317(00)00201-3; http://www.nrjournal.com/article/S0271-5317(00)00201-3/abstract. ISSN: 0271-5317.
  3. Fujimoto W, Inaoki M, Fukui T, Inoue Y, Kuhara T. Biotin deficiency in an infant fed with amino acid formula. J Dermatol 2005;32:256-61
  4. Mock  DM,  2005.  Biotin.  In: Encyclopedia of Human  Nutrition.  Caballero B, Allen  L, Prentice  A (eds.). Elsevier, Oxford.
  5. Floersheim GL, 1992. Prüfung der Wirkung von Biotin auf Haarausfall und Haarqualität. Z Hautkr 67, 246-255.
  • Glynis A: A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Evaluating the Efficacy of an Oral Supplement in Women with Self-perceived Thinning Hair: J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2012 Nov;5(11):28-34
  • Colombo VE, Gerber F, Bronhofer M, Floersheim GL. Treatment of brittle fingernails and onychoschizia with biotin: scanning electron microscopy. J Am Acad Dermatol 1990;23:1127-32.
  • Floersheim GL. [Treatment of brittle fingernails with biotin]. Z Hautkr 1989;64:41-8
  • Hochman LG, Scher RK, Meyerson MS. Brittle nails: response to daily biotin supplementation. Cutis 1993;51:303-5.