Important facts about Biotin that you must know
In recent times, Biotin is being taken as a miracle supplement by many, as it is believed that this health supplement facilitates hair growth and nail growth. So, what is Biotin and does it really help to take Biotin supplements? Biotin belongs to the family of water soluble B-Complex vitamins and is also referred as Vitamin H or coenzyme R. Under normal circumstances, most people get all the biotin they need through the food they eat and through the bacteria in the intestines that produce biotin. Therefore there is hardly any strong justification to take additional Biotin supplement under normal circumstances. But in some extremely rare situation, a person could have biotin deficiency in their system (caused by some medications, antibiotics misuse, genetic disorder, excess alcohol consumption and so on), and that may necessitate giving Biotin supplements. Biotin deficiency, though extremely rare is still a possibility.
What does Biotin do in our body and why is it essential?
Biotin has some very important role to play in the human body. It is essential for cell growth, for fatty acids production, for metabolism of fats and amino acids, for breaking down proteins to urea and for helping regulate blood sugar.
Where do we get Biotin from?
Biotin can be found in a wide range of foods such as milk, liver, egg yolk, salmon, chicken, Swiss chard, dried peas, beans and leafy green vegetables. Mushrooms and nuts also have smaller quantities of biotin. Bacteria in the intestinal tract, also produces enough biotin for the body’s needs.
Causes of Biotin deficiency
It takes an unusual situation for biotin deficiency to develop, such as if a person eats large amounts of raw egg whites or the person has some genetic disorder or has side effects through prolonged use of certain medications. Egg whites in particular have a substance called avidin that prevents the body from absorbing biotin. If the egg whites are cooked, then that deactivates the avidin. Extended use of certain antibiotics that destroy intestinal bacteria can lead to a biotin deficiency as well; but normally this only becomes a problem if your diet also lacks enough biotin.
Symptoms of biotin deficiency
- The skin looks dry and scaly
- Thinning of hair
- Lack of appetite
- Cracked corners of the mouth
- Brittle nails
Biotin and Hair
While the real benefits of taking Biotin supplements are not clearly established, there is some indication to show that it helps improve the keratin structure (a basic protein that provides the building block for hair, nails and skin). Hence Biotin supplements are often recommended for strong hair, nails and for promoting hair growth, despite the weak scientific evidence supporting the beneficial effects. So, should you take Biotin supplement for hair growth? Is it safe? Anecdotal evidence shows that biotin supplements helps hair to grow faster and gives more volume, but there are pros and cons of taking the supplement. The main pro is that you will be able to see some hair and nail growth in one to two months. But before you jump to go get the supplement, you must take abundant precautions.
Precautions to take when taking Biotin supplement
While biotin may be great for your hair, unfortunately, one of its side effects is that you can develop severe acne and experience repeated breakouts for as long as you continue using biotin. That’s why you have to take the following:
- Water — Because biotin is water soluble you should drink good amount of water every day, (at least 5-6 liters per day)
- Vitamin B complex — This supplement contains vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12. Since biotin and vitamin B do basically the same job in your body as biotin alone does, the amounts of both need to be balanced. This means that if you are taking biotin you must take vitamin B supplements as well in order to prevent acne.
- Dosage — If this is the first time you are taking biotin, start with the minimum dosage, around 1000 mcg (microgram not milligram; 1000mcg=1 mg) or perhaps less to test how your body will react. Gradually increase the dosage and be sure and take it with a large meal. For those who tolerate the normal dose well, the generally recommended daily dosage is around 2.5 milligram.
- Take for only 2 — 2.5 months — Regardless of the precautions you take you are going to have to deal with some health issues, so it’s better not to take this on a prolonged basis.
- Pregnant woman and children shouldn’t take these pills — Not unless prescribed by a doctor.
Is this safe? What are the risks and side effects of taking Biotin?
- Biotin is safe and well tolerated in the body even when take in huge amounts.
- Biotin does not have any side effects but it must be taken with caution if you are breastfeeding or pregnant and prone to acne.
- Side effects. Biotin seems to be safe and well-tolerated, even at fairly high levels. The maximum safe dose of biotin is unknown. It should not be given to little children without a doctor’s recommendation.
- Let your doctor know about other drugs that you use regularly. This supplement can weaken some drugs, for example, those used in cholesterol treatment. There are also drugs that lead to biotin deficiency and it is important for your doctor to know.
- Before you start any supplement, you must consult with your Doctor.