What is Biotin

What is Biotin

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Biotin is a part of the B vitamin family and plays a very important role in keeping our skin, hair, heart, and brain health. Unfortunately, many people don’t know what biotin is or how much they should consume to avoid deficiencies. Below, we discuss everything you need to know pertaining to biotin, what its benefits are, how much you should be taking, what foods you can find it in, and the symptoms of biotin deficiency. 

What is Biotin Good For?

There are many different biotin uses but the most common use is to assist in hair growth. Researchers believe that biotin is effective when it comes to hair growth because biotin helps improve your body’s keratin infrastructure. Keratin is a basic protein that makes up your hair, skin, and nails. While there is still research that needs to be done, researchers do believe biotin can play a significant role in growing hair in areas affected by hair loss (1). Here are some other biotin benefits:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve cognitive function
  • Help lower blood sugar in people with diabetes
  • Increase ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and decrease ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol

Before rushing out to purchase biotin supplements, it’s highly recommended that you consult with your doctor to ensure it’s safe. 

Are Biotin Supplements Safe?

Before we discuss the negative side effects of biotin, it should be noted that the majority of people get enough biotin through a normal diet. You should not need biotin supplements unless they are recommended by your doctor. Here are some of the possible minor side effects associated with biotin supplements:

  • Nausea
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea

You can reduce your risk of side effects by taking your supplement with food. It should also be noted that biotin deficiency can lead to hair loss or thinning, high cholesterol, rashes, and heart problems. We will discuss what can cause biotin deficiencies later in the article, but try to keep in mind that biotin deficiencies are very rare. The symptoms of biotin deficiencies are also common symptoms of other diseases. If you experience these symptoms, you should consult with your doctor.  

Are Biotin and D Biotin the Same?

Biotin and D-biotin are the same in the sense that D-biotin is the naturally occurring, biologically active form of biotin. It’s involved in lipid, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism. D-biotin is one of eight forms of the water-soluble vitamin, biotin, also known as vitamin B-7. It is a coenzyme, or helper enzyme, for numerous metabolic reactions in the body. D-biotin is involved in lipid and protein metabolism and helps convert food into glucose, which the body uses for energy. It's also vital for maintaining skin, hair, and mucous membranes. So technically speaking, D-biotin and biotin are similar simply because D-biotin is a form of biotin. 

Is Biotin a Protein?

Biotin is an important component of enzymes involved in metabolizing fats and carbohydrates, influencing cell growth, and affecting amino acids involved in protein synthesis (2). Biotin assists in various metabolic reactions involving the transfer of carbon dioxide. It may also be helpful in maintaining a steady blood sugar level.

It is involved in a wide range of metabolic processes, both in humans and in other organisms, primarily related to the utilization of fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids. It is considered a vitamin, not a protein, although it does help greatly in the protein synthesis process. 

What Causes Biotin Deficiency?

Those with health conditions that impact how the body absorbs and processes nutrients, or those who are on certain medications, can be at risk of developing biotin deficiency. Biotinidase deficiency (BTD) is the most common cause of biotin deficiency. This is a rare inherited disorder where the body is not able to use biotin, thus leading to biotin deficiencies. This affects one in every 60,000 newborn babies. Other factors that may put you at risk include:

  • Being on parenteral nutrition 
  • Taking anti-seizure medication over a long period of time, which can eventually lower the body’s biotin levels
  • Taking certain antibiotics that can destroy the biotin-producing bacteria in the gut
  • Having Crohn's disease
  • Alcohol abuse, which inhibits biotin absorption

It’s also important to note that at least one-third of pregnant women will develop marginal biotin deficiency. 

What Foods Have Biotin?

As we mentioned earlier, biotin supplements shouldn’t be necessary because you should be able to get your recommended daily dose of biotin through your diet. The biotin content of food can vary and the way you prepare the food can also impact the amount of biotin. Here are several common food sources of biotin:

  • Beef liver
  • Eggs
  • Salmon and other fatty fish
  • Pork chops
  • Hamburger patties
  • 2% milk
  • Plain yogurt
  • Oatmeal
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Tuna

As you can see, so many foods contain biotin that you may not even need to change your diet in order to increase your intake. 

How Much Biotin Should You Use For Hair Growth?

Although there is no recommended dietary allowance for biotin, proponents often recommend taking two to five mg of biotin in supplement form daily in order to strengthen hair shafts and achieve results. Although biotin is a water-soluble vitamin, there is no evidence to support this recommendation, and the safety of regular use of this amount isn't known. As with other supplements, biotin hasn't been tested for safety in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications. You can find out more about how to use supplements safely here.

Supplements Can Help

Taking care of your body with a proper diet, exercise routine, and supplement regimen can help you prevent hair loss. Supplements, such as a spermidine supplement, can help you live a longer life by inducing autophagy throughout your body. Autophagy is the body’s process of replacing older, potentially damaged cell parts, with newer healthier ones. 

This process becomes increasingly important as you get older and your cells become more and more worn down. Supplements can be beneficial because it can be difficult to get your recommended daily intake of spermidine through your diet alone. By taking a spermidine capsule with your dinner, you ensure that you always get your daily dose of spermidine.