Biotin, Biotin Deficiency

Biotin is a B vitamin that functions in the manufacture and utilization of fats and amino acids. Without biotin, metabolism is severely impaired. Biotin is found in every living cell in minute amounts where it exists either in its protein-bound or free form. It occurs in eight forms, but only d-biotin has a true vitamin activity. Since the body manufactures biotin by its own intestines' beneficial bacteria, so severe biotin deficiencies are quite rare. It may occur in infants.

Adults who run a prolonged course of antibiotics may develop biotin shortage, so can someone who takes anticonvulsant medications or who drinks large amounts of alcohol. There is no official RDA for biotin, but a daily intake of 30 to 100 micrograms is thought to be sufficient.

Rich Food Sources of Biotin

Rich food sources of biotin include brewer's yeast, liver and other organ meats and soybeans.. Good sources of biotin are peanuts, oatmeal, cauliflower, and mushrooms. Raw egg whites contain avidin, a protein that binds biotin and prevents its absorption. Avidin is destroyed by cooking.

Biotin Quick Calculator

To compensate a possible low level of biotin, make sure your food includes healthy portions of cheese, organ meats, egg yolks, nuts, soybeans, royal jelly and brewer's yeast. Here is a selection of some foods containing biotin:

  • Brewer's yeast (3.5 oz) - 200 mcg
  • Liver, beef (3.5 oz) - 96 mcg
  • Soybeans (3.5 oz) - 61 mcg
  • Peanut butter (3.5 oz) - 39 mcg
  • Walnuts (3.5 oz) - 37 mcg
  • Peanuts, roasted (3.5 oz) - 34 mcg
  • Pecans, roasted (3.5 oz) - 27 mcg
  • Oatmeal (3.5 oz) - 24 mcg
  • Egg, cooked (1) - 20 mcg
  • Cauliflower (3.5 oz) - 17 mcg
  • Mushrooms (3.5 oz) - 16 mcg

Biotin deficiency - Biotin shortage in adults is characterized by dry skin, scaly skin, nausea, loss of appetite, seborrhea (abnormally oily skin), anemia (low level of red blood cells), depression, hair loss, conjunctivitis, vision and hearing loss, sleep disturbances, muscular pain, seizures and soreness of the tongue. In infants under six months of age, the symptoms include seborrheic dermatitis, or cradle cap -- an abnormally oily skin which results in chronic scaly inflammation -- and alopecia (hair loss). These symptoms have been reported in persons having faulty genetic mechanism for normal binding of biotin. A number of studies have demonstrated successful treatment of cradle cap with biotin when given as a supplement of 2 to 3 mg twice daily or as liver or egg yolk to the nursing mother. No overdoses or serious adverse effcts have been reported with biotin use. For children, it is suitable at one half of the adult dosage. For seniors, no special precautions are known.

Bioavailability of Biotin

Bioavailability is the percentage of a nutrient absorbed from the food. Nutrients consumed but not released during the digestive process for absorption have no nutritional value. Biotin in food exists in the free and protein-bound form. The protein-bound form can be digested and absorbed. Once absorbed, it circulates as free biotin. The availability of biotin in food depends on the percent that is bound. In general, bound biotin found in foods of animal origin (organ meats, egg yolks, milk, cheese) is more available than that of foods from plant origin. Biotin undergoes substantial loss of activity in processed foods due to ixidation. Therefore, such processing techniques as canning of foods can result in significant loss of biotin. In most grains, bioavailability of biotin is 20 to 30%; none is available from wheat and very little is available from cooked meat.

Biotin and Diabetes

Recent clinical studies have shown the effectiveness of high dosages of biotin in managing blood sugar and improving patients with diabetic neuropathy.

Biotin and Hair Problems

Biotin improves the utilization of fatty acids makes the scalp less oily. High dosages of biotin (2,000 mcg to 3,000 a day, or 2 to 3 mg a day) may stop hair loss in some men.

Biotin and Skin Problems

Biotin can be useful in treating cradle cap in infants. However, adults with seborrheic dermatitis require a comprehensive approach that requires all of B vitamins, as well as fatty acids and zinc supplements. In large doses (2.5 mg a day) biotin can heal skin lesions.

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