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Get acquainted with your nutrients - Biotin
Get acquainted with your nutrients – Biotin
Biotin, an essential micronutrient for all mammals and is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin. It is also called vitamin B7. It was formerly known vitamin H and coenzyme R too. Biotin plays an important role in energy metabolism just like other B-complex vitamins. Biotin serves as a coenzyme for five carboxylases in humans.
What does biotin do in the human body?
Biotin serves as a co-enzyme and plays an important role in making glucose from other substances such as amino acids and lactate to help maintain blood glucose levels during fasting and prolonged exercise. It is found in higher concentrations in brain, muscle and liver.
Biotin is also essential to make fatty acids from excessive glucose and certain amino acids. Biotin is necessary for the pathways that help breakdown certain fatty acids (odd chain length) and amino acids for energy.
Foods that contain biotin
Though found in small amounts biotin is found widely distributed in the foods we consume.
Foods that are good sources:
- Roasted peanuts
- Wheat bran
- Brewer’s yeast
Milk and milk products are mediocre sources of biotin.
Eggs: Avidin and Biotin
Eggs also have a fair amount of biotin but egg whites contain a protein called avidin which binds to biotin in our digestive system and decreases its absorption. But the biotin binding action of avidin is reduced if the eggs are cooked. This is one of the reasons why prolonged consumption of raw eggs is not recommended.
Bacteria and Biotin
Biotin can also be made in the body by the bacteria present in the colon and some of this biotin can be absorbed. This biotin synthesized by the bacteria contributes towards the biotin requirement but it alone is not sufficient. Dietary biotin is necessary to fulfill the biotin requirement.
How much biotin do we require?
Biotin deficiency is rare and does not occur when a person takes a balanced diet which includes a variety of food. Adults require about 30 micrograms biotin daily. The requirement during pregnancy does not increase but it becomes 35 micrograms during lactation. Because biotin is involved in the energy metabolism the requirement increases to 50- 60 micrograms a day for physically active people.
What happens when there is biotin deficiency?
Biotin is found in a wide variety of foods and also made by bacteria in our gut and hence it is rare to find biotin deficiency. In some rare cases where hospital patients are fed intravenously on biotin deficient solution or in infants fed on a lot of egg whites, biotin deficiency may occur.
Biotin deficiency has been linked to hair/fur loss in animal studies and is often used products to improve hair. But more research work is needed to convincingly say that hair growth is improved by taking biotin supplements .