Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin

Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin
Picture: Siddharth Pandit | Dreamstime
Victoria Mamaeva
Pharmaceutical Specialist

Dry hair, brittle nails or a gray complexion are problems that should not be ignored. They are often recommended biotin supplements, but what is it and how does it work?

No wonder our body is considered smarter than us and tells us what is missing. Hair loss, deterioration of the skin and nails – a signal that can warn us of a deficiency of biotin in the body. However, there are many ways to deal with it and even prevent it.

What is biotin?

Biotin was discovered by accident in the early 20th century while searching for a substance that supported the treatment of skin diseases.

Hence the German word for Haut (skin) derives its original name, vitamin H. Today you may also come across the term vitamin B7, since biotin, along with, for example, folic acid and pyridoxine, belongs to the B vitamins, that is, those that are necessary for the proper functioning of the body.

Properties

First, biotin is very soluble in water, which means that overdose is almost impossible. Its excess will be excreted from the body with urine. Its second property is high heat resistance – heat treatment does not deprive it of its properties, as is the case with many nutrients.

Biotin
Picture: Ekaterina79 | Dreamstime

However, its most interesting feature is the fact that our body produces vitamin B7 in the intestines, which in turn means that its deficiency is not common. Most often this occurs when observing an undifferentiated diet, during antibiotic treatment and when using hormonal contraception.

Glutamine is one of the 20 standard amino acids that make up protein
Glutamine is one of the 20 standard amino acids that make up protein

A common ingredient in everyday food is biotin, which is most commonly found in nuts, almonds, egg yolks, tomatoes, and mushrooms. The youth vitamin is also present in smaller amounts in many plant and animal foods.

Biotin Benefits

Biotin, known as the skin or beauty vitamin, acts primarily on the skin, hair, and nails. This is largely due to the high content of sulfur molecules, which are necessary for the formation of creatine, which in turn protects and improves their appearance. Biotin also regulates the activity of the sebaceous glands, which can prevent excessive hair loss. It also regulates the functioning of the thyroid gland, which can also have similar effects.

However, it should be emphasized that hair loss can be a symptom of many diseases not associated with biotin deficiency, and in case of its chronic occurrence, especially in the presence of other symptoms, a doctor should be consulted. Most people who use biotin as a dietary supplement experience noticeable improvement in the condition of their hair and nails after just a few months of regular use.

Iodine is one of the most important trace elements in the human body
Iodine is one of the most important trace elements in the human body

Biotin regulates sebum secretion, protects the skin from inflammation, promotes wound healing and prevents discoloration. Often found in creams and other anti-aging preparations. Similarly, there are nail polishes with its content and biotin for hair in the form of conditioners and shampoos.

Biotin
Picture: Ratmaner | Dreamstime

Contrary to what you might think, biotin is used not only for beauty, but also for the proper functioning of the body as a whole. It is involved in the production of insulin and the uptake of glucose by muscle cells, which has a great impact on maintaining proper blood sugar levels.

Vitamin B7 is also a component of the prothrombin formation process, which in turn is responsible for blood clotting. Finally, it is involved in the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates and in the synthesis of fatty acids, which also has a major impact on the digestive system.

When to use

Despite the relatively high availability of biotin in food and its synthesis in our body, there are some people who have specific indications for supplementation. It is primarily about people who notice the first symptoms of a deficiency, such as deterioration of the hair, nails and skin, or muscle pain.
Arginine is a key element of nitrogen metabolism
Arginine is a key element of nitrogen metabolism

People who smoke, abuse alcohol, and take antibiotics or anticonvulsants for a long time are especially at risk of deficiency.

In addition, people with phenylketonuria and diseases that interfere with the absorption of nutrients may have reduced levels of this substance. Biotin can also be used by pregnant women and while breastfeeding, but only in small doses as recommended by the supplement manufacturer.

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