Vitamin B7,  more commonly known as biotin, is B vitamin. Like all B vitamins, biotin aids the body in breaking down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for energy production. It also has roles in maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nervous system function.

Read this post to learn more about the many health benefits of biotin.

All About Biotin-min

Introduction to Vitamin B7/Biotin

Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin essential for the growth and development of all organisms (R).

As a coenzyme of carboxylase enzymes, biotin is involved in the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids, and carbohydrates (R).

Biotin has been shown to be important for many health factors including supporting neurological functions, steadying blood sugar levels, DNA stability, and hair, skin and nail health (R,R2).

The body cannot synthesize biotin, so it needs to be obtained regularly from the diet and intestinal bacteria (R).

Biotin can be found in a wide variety of foods including animal liver, egg yolks, cow milk, and some fruits and vegetables (R).

Although biotin deficiency is rare, it can be dangerous if left untreated. Suboptimal levels or marginal deficiencies, which are a lot more common, have been linked to a variety of negative health effects including growth retardation, neurological dysfunction, hair loss, skin rash, muscle pain, and anemia (R).

Groups at risk for biotin deficiency include smokers, alcoholics, pregnant women, and patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (R,R2,R3,R4).

Health Benefits of Biotin

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1) Biotin is Necessary for Energy Metabolism

Biotin is a coenzyme for carboxylases, the enzymes that assist in the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates for energy production (R).

These enzymes are essential for the following processes:

  • Gluconeogenesis, the metabolic pathway that produces glucose from non-carbohydrate sources including amino acids (R).
  • Cellular energy production (R).
  • The use of branched-chain amino acids (e.g., leucine, isoleucine, and valine) for neurotransmitter production and energy (R).
  • Synthesis and breakdown of fatty acids for energy (R).
  • Insulin release (R).

Inadequate biotin levels in the body can slow down metabolism, which leads to fatigue, digestive problems, and weight gain (R).

2) Biotin May Be Beneficial For Type 2 Diabetes

Biotin helps lower blood sugar levels by increasing insulin production, enhancing glucose uptake in muscle cells, and stimulating glucokinase, an enzyme in the liver that promotes glycogen synthesis (R,R2,R3).

Daily supplementation of biotin decreased fasting blood sugar concentrations by an average of approximately 45% in patients with type 2 diabetes (R).

Furthermore, high doses have been shown to improve symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, a nerve damage condition commonly exhibited in diabetic patients (R).

3) Biotin May Help Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Biotin is required for normal fat metabolism, which is critical for maintaining heart and blood vessel health (R,R2,R3).

In combination with chromium, biotin can help reduce heart disease risk factors by increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels and decreasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, especially in diabetic patients with heart disease (R,R2).

Pharmacological doses of biotin (15000 mcg/day) are also effective in lowering blood triglyceride concentrations in patients with elevated triglyceride levels (R).

4) Biotin Promotes Brain Function and Prevents Cognitive Decline

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Biotin is required for myelin sheath formation, a fatty substance that surrounds nerves and facilitates nerve impulse conduction. As such, biotin deficiency can delay myelination (R).

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder characterized by myelin damage and loss. Given its role in fatty acid synthesis and energy production (both are needed for myelin repair and axonal survival),  it has been proposed that biotin may be effective in limiting or reversing multiple sclerosis-related impairments (R).

In fact, some studies have found that high-dose biotin treatment was able to reverse disease progression and improve symptoms in patients with progressive multiple sclerosis (R,R2).

However, although these results are promising, research is currently limited and more large-scale clinical trials are required to fully assess the potential disease-modifying mechanism of high-dose biotin (R).

Biotin deficiency can also lead to a number of other neurological symptoms, including seizures, lack of muscle coordination, learning disabilities, hallucinations, depression, and lethargy. Most of these conditions can be resolved with biotin supplementation (R,R2,R3).

High-dose biotin  supplementation (5-10 mg/kg/day) is also effective in treating biotin-responsive basal ganglia disease, a rare brain metabolic condition characterized by seizures, confusion, and abnormal coordination (R).

5) Biotin is Needed for a Healthy Immune System

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Biotin is needed for white blood cell development and its deficiency is linked to impaired immune function and an increased risk of infection (R,R2).

It increases the production of Th1 cytokines like IL-1β and IFN-γ, which are essential for eliciting an immune response to fight bacterial and viral infections (R).

Inadequate levels of biotin are associated with decreased antibody synthesis, T cell decay, and lower amounts of spleen cells and T cells in both animals and humans (R,R2,R3).

Decreased rates of cellular proliferation during biotin deficiency may account for some of these adverse effects on immune function (R).

A deficiency of biotinidase, an enzyme that helps recycle biotin, is associated with chronic vaginal candidiasis and is treatable with biotin supplementation. Since 1 in every 123 people is believed to be biotinidase deficient, women with chronic vaginal candidiasis may be responsive to biotin treatment (R).

6) Biotin Suppresses Inflammation and May Alleviate Allergic Disorders

Research from mouse models and human white blood cells indicate that biotin deficiency may increase the production of proinflammatory cytokines and aggravate inflammatory conditions (R,R2,R3).

In biotin-deficient mice with nickel allergies, biotin supplementation decreased the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and improved allergic inflammation, suggesting a potential therapeutic effect of biotin against inflammatory and allergic diseases in humans (R).

This may be a result of decreased NF-κB activity, which is activated during biotin deficiency (R,R2).

7) Biotin Promotes Skin, Hair, and Nail Health

Biotin deficiency is linked to a number of skin conditions, including seborrheic dermatitis (cradle cap) and eczema (R,R2).

This may be related to biotin’s roles in fatty acid synthesis and metabolism, which is critical for skin health (R).

Skin cells are particularly dependent on fat production since they require extra protection against damage and water loss from constant outdoor exposure (R).

Inadequate levels of biotin can also lead to hair loss, which is reversible with supplementation. Although some studies have found that biotin promotes hair growth in women with thinning hair, there is minimal evidence to support that it promotes hair growth in otherwise healthy individuals (R,R2,R3,R4).

Biotin may enhance the quality of brittle nails, with affected patients exhibiting firmer, harder, and thicker nails after treatment (R,R2.R3).

8) Biotin May Prevent Birth Defects

Marginal biotin deficiency is common during pregnancy due to the increased biotin demands from the growing fetus (R).

In animals, even a subclinical level of biotin deficiency can result in cleft palate and limb abnormalities (R).

It is hypothesized that a low biotin status during pregnancy may increase the risk of birth defects in humans by altering fat metabolism and increasing genomic instability, both of which can lead to the development of chromosomal abnormalities and fetal malformations (R,R2).

In human embryonic palatal (roof of mouth) stem cells, biotin depletion was found to suppress carboxylase production and cellular proliferation, indicating that lower levels of biotin may delay or halt the growth of the embryonic palate, resulting in cleft palate development (R).

However, definitive evidence establishing the connection between biotin deficiency in humans and the development of birth defects is currently lacking and thus, more research is required (R).

9) Biotin May Protect Against Cancer

Biotin covalently binds to histones, DNA binding proteins that help fold and package DNA into chromatin (R). The addition of biotin to histones plays a significant role in cellular proliferation, gene silencing, and DNA repair and stability (R,R2).

Low levels of biotin can lead to inadequate histone biotinylation, which can result in genomic instability and abnormal gene expression (cellular production) and thus increases the risks of cancer. These effects have been shown to increase cancer risk in fruit flies and human cancer cell studies (R,R2,R3,R4).

However, in 1 study, higher levels of biotin (up to 600 micrograms) were actually found to increase genomic instability and damage, indicating that biotin’s DNA stabilizing effects may be dose-dependent (R).

Interestingly, the causal link between histone biotinylation and cancer risk in humans remains to be investigated (R).

Genetics of Biotin

SelfDecode has a page on the genetic interactions of biotin.

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BTD Gene – The Enzyme that Recycles Biotin:

The BTD gene encodes biotinidase, an enzyme that recycles biotin. Biotinidase transports free biotin through the bloodstream and attaches biotin to other proteins (R). Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the BTD genome include the following:

  1. RS13073139
  2. RS13078881
  3. RS2455826 – This gene variant is associated with an increased risk of psoriasis (R).
  4. RS34885143
  5. RS35034250
  6. RS7651039 – The “C” allele is associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease (R).

SLC5A6 Gene – The Transporter that Transport Biotin Into the Cells:

The SLC5A6 gene encodes the sodium -dependent multivitamin transporter that helps transport biotin into cells (R).

  1. RS1395

HLCS Gene – The Enzyme that Attaches Biotin to Other Proteins:

This gene encodes holocarboxylase synthetase (HLCS), an enzyme that attaches biotin molecules to histones and carboxylase enzymes. Mutations in this gene can reduce biotin binding to molecules and suppress carboxylase activity, resulting in impaired protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism. They can also affect the production of genes that are important for normal development (RR2).

Biotin covalently binds to histones using the enzyme HLCS and is involved in gene silencing, DNA repair, chromatin structure, and transposon repression (R).

Pharmacokinetics of Biotin

Oral biotin supplements are completely absorbed even at high pharmacological doses (81.9 micromoles taken orally or 18.4 micromoles taken intravenously) (R).

Biotin is absorbed via a sodium-dependent multivitamin transporter (SMVT) in the small and large intestines (R).

After transport from the intestines into the systemic circulation, biotin is taken up by the liver and eventually crosses the blood-brain barrier into the central nervous system (R).

Soon after oral ingestion by humans, single high doses of biotin (600 micrograms and 900 micrograms) are eliminated from the circulation leading to a significant increase of urinary excretion. Therefore, for prolonged maintenance of blood biotin levels, lower doses (300 micrograms) each day for a week are recommended (R).

Roughly half of absorbed biotin undergoes metabolism to bisnorbiotin and biotin sulfoxide prior to excretion. Biotin, bisnorbiotin, and biotin sulfoxide are present in molar ratios of approximately 3:2:1 in human urine and blood (R).

The elimination half-life time of biotin is approximately 1 hour, 50 minutes (R).

Side Effects and Contraindications:

Biotin is generally considered safe and no toxicity has been reported for doses up to 300 mg/day orally and 20 mg intravenously (R,R2).

Since it is a water-soluble vitamin, biotin overdose is unlikely as excess amounts are excreted in the urine (R).

High-dose biotin supplementation may skew thyroid test results and mimic the laboratory pattern of Grave’s disease (R).

Nutrient/Drug interactions:

Lipoic acid competes with biotin for binding to the sodium-dependent multivitamin transporter (SMVT) in the intestine, so long-term use of lipoic acid could result in depleted biotin levels (R).

Similarly, large doses of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) have the potential to compete with biotin for absorption by the SMVT (R,R2).

Prolonged use of antibiotics like tetracycline and sulfonamides can reduce biotin levels because they kill biotin-producing bacteria in the intestines (R).

Futhermore, some anticonvulsants like primidone and carbamazepine inhibit biotin absorption. Chronic anticonvulsant use can also increase biotin breakdown (R).

Raw egg whites contain the protein avidin, which binds biotin tightly and inhibits its absorption (R).

Smoking accelerates biotin breakdown, especially in women, resulting in marginal biotin deficiency (R).

Chronic alcohol consumption can inhibit intestinal biotin absorption (R).

Dosing:

There is no recommended dietary allowance (RDA) established for biotin because of limited data on bioavailability (R).

Adequate intakes for biotin established by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) are listed in the table below:

Age Males (μg biotin/day) Females (μg biotin/day)
0-6 months 5 5
7-12 months 6 6
1-3 years 8 8
4-8 years 12 12
9-13 years 20 20
14-18 years 25 25
19 years and older 30 30
Pregnant women 30
Breastfeeding women 35

Source: (R).

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5 COMMENTS

  • Finley Moreira

    It’s good to know that hair loss can be reversible with biotin supplementation. I’ve noticed more and more hair falling out of my head when I shower, and it’s starting to worry me. Do you suggest I get naturally sourced biotin for best results? http://miraclemed.com/product-category/mens-products/

  • Monali Thakur

    It is great to know these amazing health benefits of Biotin, It is also helpful in Type 2 Diabetes.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Linda Tump

    Hi, Just a quick caveat about biotin affecting lab results:

    Biotin Treatment Mimicking Graves’ Disease
    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1602096

    January 2016: Thyroid Month: Beware of Biotin
    [endocrinenews]

    1. Howard W

      Sodium dependent multivitamin transporter SMVT
      I haven’t come across this term in a while. I appreciate how thorough your articles can be (the BBB stuff got snapped up by a latent curiosity I’ve always had, ha).

      As a pre middle-aged male who is rebounding from a severe health crisis, I rely on pregnenolone in the mornings, which in the past I used sublingually. What about sublingual admin of biotin? Would that accelerate the process of crossing the BBB? Also, Biotin/ Coenzyme A article on WHFoods.org is stellar IMO. (This tangent reminds me of Hydroxocobalamin.. sublingual a godsend for me. Adenocobalamin also involves biotin I believe?)

      1. Pp

        Hi,
        Not sure what your health crisis is , but pregnenolone is a gaba antagonist, which will potentiate anxiety and its ohysical symptoms, as well as increase glutamate excitotoxicity, activation of autonomic system and cortisol/ adrenaline secretion, most of which are not very healing…. Good luck. Peace

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