Biotin, also known as vitamin H and B7, is said to be an important vitamin, but what is biotin used for and what makes it "important?" With so many supplements on the market promising myriad benefits, all the information and health hype can get a bit confusing. Since biotin is important for more than one reason, we'll focus on why it's important, proper dosage and natural sources as well as answer the question: "What is biotin used for?"
What Is Biotin Used For?
Biotin's role is multi-faceted and the vitamin is used for a number of different purposes. It's available in supplement form, but most people can easily get adequate amounts through eating a balanced diet. Plus the microflora found within the small intestine also creates some biotin.
- Fat Burner: Biotin is often promoted as a "fat burner" because one of the principle roles of biotin is to help with the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbs. Before you rush out to buy biotin as a weight loss aid, remember that to lose weight you must eat fewer calories than you burn. There is no magic pill, even if it goes by the name vitamin. However, biotin is used in some weight loss programs to help dieters metabolize fat more efficiently.
- Treatment of Candida: Some people use biotin to treat Candida because it is said to be able to prevent yeast from changing into its fungal form.
- Hair, Skin, Nails: Biotin is said to help grow healthy hair, is good for the skin and is used to help treat brittle toe and fingernails. Biotin is also used to treat hair loss (alopecia), and for people with premature gray hair due to low levels of biotin, it has helped combat graying hair.
- Gene Replication: On a deeper level, biotin is integral for gene replication.
- Blood Cells and Bone Marrow: Biotin also helps in the production of healthy blood cells and bone marrow.
- Reduce Blood Sugar: In some cases, doctors recommend biotin to help people with type 2 diabetes reduce their blood sugar.
Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency
Biotin deficiency is rare in the Western world since the body needs only small dosages and a healthy diet usually provides adequate amounts. However, a biotin deficiency can lead to serious symptoms including:
- Brittle hair
- Dry skin
- Muscular pain
- Progressive hair loss
While a biotin deficiency is relatively uncommon, it can be caused medically due to prolonged antibiotic use. In severe cases, people may lose their eyebrows and eyelashes.
Natural Sources of Biotin
Biotin is readily found in a number of foods including:
- Brewer's yeast
- Dairy products
- Egg yolks
- Organ meats
- Peanut butter
- Wheat germ
- Whole grains
Right Dosage of Biotin
If you take a multi-vitamin, chances are it already includes as much biotin as you need to take. How much biotin is right for you will depend somewhat on the reason you're taking it. For example, the RDA for biotin is 300 micrograms a day, but some people (under doctor's care) have taken doses as high as 2,500 mcg to treat hair/nail problems. If you think you may benefit from higher dosages of biotin, check with your doctor for professional input. If your physician agrees biotin is the right treatment for you, he or she may prescribe biotin tablets, capsules or lozenges.