What is Biotin?
Biotin is the common name for Vitamin H (also known as Vitamin B-7) and is one of the B complex group of vitamins. It is not common to find people suffering from Biotin deficiency as the compound is readily available in common foods.
Your body requires biotin in order to metabolize (break down) carbohydrates in order to produce energy in form of glucose. The compound is also crucial in the body’s natural process of metabolizing starch and fats to produce amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. Alongside other B complex vitamins, it is needed for proper functioning of such organs as the eyes and the liver.
Recently, some studies have shown that if you take the vitamin in higher than natural proportions through dietary supplements, you will also enjoy such benefits as longer, stronger hair and smoother, healthier skin. Indeed, biotin is a major ingredient in the formulation of most cosmetic hair and skin products.
Dietary sources of Biotin
Biotin can be found in a wide variety of foods. However, the following foods have higher concentration of the vitamin than others:
- Cooked eggs, especially egg yolk (raw egg whites contain a protein called Avidin which inhibits the absorption of biotin in the body)
- Brewer’s yeast
- Nuts such as walnuts, peanuts, almonds and pecans
- Legumes such as soy beans, blackeye peas and green grams
- Whole grains
Processed foods, even when they are originally made of any of the above, usually contain little or no biotin. This is because the compound is quite fragile and is almost always destroyed during the processing.
Biotin as a dietary supplement
Biotin is mainly taken as part of a multivitamin dosage or B vitamin complexes. If desired, it can also be taken as an individual supplement. The supplement is usually sold as pills or capsules which contain standard preparations of 10 mcg, 50 mcg and 100 mcg.
Biotin as a Hair Growth Supplement
It is not for nothing that Biotin has been called hair food. Once you start taking biotin supplements on a daily basis, one of the first changes you will witness is an increased rate of growth of your hair. According to hair care experts, you need to take about 5000 micrograms of the supplement daily without skipping days.
Nonetheless, it is important that you remain realistic as you will not achieve increased hair growth overnight. For most people, it takes about 4 to 6 weeks of consistent intake for the results to become manifest. Other than hair, biotin also helps increase the length and thickness of eyelashes as well as nails. The supplement is also highly recommended for people suffering from eczema.
Will biotin stimulate hair growth in other areas of the body?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions by those who are considering the option of taking biotin supplements for hair growth. While the fear is understandable, it is unwarranted. Unlike hair on the scalp, hair on other parts of the body is programmed to grow to a certain length and no more. No matter how long you take biotin for, only the strands of hair on your head will get longer and longer.
Precautions to consider when taking biotin
- As a general rule, when it comes to dietary supplements, never take anything until after you have consulted a trustworthy physician first.
- People taking antibiotic medication should not take biotin as well unless they do this with the express direction of a doctor
- Pregnant women or those who are trying to get pregnant should keep off biotin supplements unless a qualified has ruled it safe to take them
- Some studies have shown that biotin reduces the effectiveness of anti-seizure and heart medication