Biotin or vitamin H is part of the complex B vitamins. Along with helping the body metabolize fats and carbohydrates, biotin has been linked to improved hair health and maintaining proper function of the nervous system. Though it’s uncommon to have a deficiency in biotin, chronic smokers, alcoholics, pregnant women, those with Crohn’s and/or liver disease and anyone eating a diet loaded with processed foods is most likely to have a deficiency. Symptoms often reveal themselves through dry eyes, cracking on the sides of the mouth, scaly skin, depression and hair loss.
Registered nutritionist and dietitian, Susan Fyshe, gives more on why you should ensure you’re getting enough of this essential vitamin, found in many nutrient-rich foods, including eggs, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
1. Strengthen hair and nailsThough there’s minimal research to support the effects of biotin on hair growth, there’s strong evidence to support a deficiency will cause hair loss. Similarly, the vitamin may also help thicken nail cuticles and prevents breakage. A number of hair care companies are now including biotin directly in their products through Fyshe suggests taking biotin orally for optimal results.
2. Improve the health of your skinA biotin deficiency can lead to a variety of skin problems including rashes, acne, psoriasis, dermatitis and overall itchiness. “B vitamins play a key role in the function of the nervous system and do affect hormone function, which suggests why depleting biotin levels can, in turn, play a significant role in skin health,” says Fyshe. If the skin isn’t nourished from the inside out, toxicities will form throughout the nervous system and manifest itself on the skin’s surface. This is one of the biggest signs that suggest a deficiency in biotin or vitamin B.
3. Supports your metabolismBiotin plays a pivotal role in supporting metabolic function and works as a co-enzyme to help break down food, including carbohydrates, fats and protein. This reaction is further accelerated when biotin is paired with chromium picolinate. Your resting metabolic rate is elevated and food breaks down faster when consuming biotin, which is why there’s a link to biotin and accelerating weight loss. However, research is still preliminary and in no way does biotin act as a weight loss pill. It is still important to pair the supplement with a healthy diet and exercise regime to make sure you meet your slim-down goals. The good news: biotin is widely available and can be found in many foods such as cooked eggs, egg yolks, soy, walnuts, whole grains, beans and legumes.
Biotin has shown to play a role in lowering cholesterol in animal studies. Preliminary research has shown biotin can help reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, which when too high, can lead to heart disease and stroke.
4. Lower cholesterol
It’s been shown that raw egg whites can inhibit the absorption of biotin so if you’re drinking a raw egg shake or eat raw eggs in food, beware that it can reduce the amount of biotin you’re metabolizing.
5. Regulate Blood Sugar
Pairing biotin with chromium has been shown to lower glucose levels. A study conducted at the Alpha Therapy Center in Corpus Christi, Texas found that “a chromium picolinate/biotin combination…can improve glycaemic control in overweight to obese individuals with type 2 diabetes; especially those patients with poor glycaemic control on oral therapy.” A 2005 study found that “Biotin deficiency has been linked to impaired glucose tolerance and decreased utilization of glucose.”