When we think of vitamins, it’s usually vitamins C and E that spring to mind, but there’s a whole host of other vitamins that are just as essential to your well-being. Some of the most poorly understood are the B vitamins.
Without B vitamins, your body will struggle to perform. They fuel the biochemical processes that ensure that you can easily detox, fight inflammation, turn food into usable energy, and keep a steady hormone balance.
All of the B vitamins are important for good health, but vitamin B7, which is known as biotin, plays a particularly important role in our appearance. It’s such a big player in the beauty field, it’s called the “hair” vitamin.
If you’re looking to improve your overall health and boost your hair, skin, and nail appearance, biotin can help.
Who’s at Risk of a Vitamin B7 Deficiency?
A biotin deficiency is rare, but people who have inflammatory bowel disease or regularly take antibiotics are at risk because biotin is processed in the gut.
People who drink excessive amounts of alcohol, smokers, and pregnant women may also be at risk.
The Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency
Some people have such small deficiencies of vitamin B7, they don’t notice any symptoms other than feeling a bit below par and looking unhealthy—but in others, the symptoms are more pronounced. They include:
- Irritated, dry skin
- Poor nail growth
- Brittle hair and hair loss
- Stomach or digestive problems
- Weight gain and weight loss resistance
- Aching muscles
- Hormonal imbalance
- Mood swings
- Tingling limbs and cramping
- Poor cognitive performance
These symptoms are the same as other deficiencies and illnesses, so if you suspect a biotin deficiency, see your doctor for blood tests.
8 Benefits of Biotin
Biotin benefits us by boosting our brain power, energy levels, and appearance. Without enough, we’ll struggle to live healthy lives and look our best.
Here are 8 ways biotin benefits our well-being.
1. It’s Great for Brain Health
Biotin protects us against neurogenerative disorders and boosts brain power.
Without it, we can develop depression, memory problems, and issues with muscle coordination. Some studies show that vitamin B complex protects us against degenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s.
2. It Boosts Your Immune Health
When you think of your immune system, it’s vitamin C that springs to mind, but vitamin B7 develops white blood cells that fight infection and ensures that there’s a balance of TH1 and TH2 blood cells to keep autoimmune inflammatory responses at bay.
There is some evidence to suggest biotin can support autoimmune disease, too. Studies on MS patients showed clinical improvement with biotin supplementation. Researchers think it’s because biotin helps produce myelin, the protective covering of nerve fibers.
3. It Balances Blood Sugar
Biotin balances blood sugar and increases insulin production. Studies have shown that supplementing with biotin decreases blood sugar in type 2 diabetes.
Ensuring that you get enough biotin helps to prevent pre-diabetes and diabetes, but a well-balanced diet is also essential.
4. It Fights Inflammation
By decreasing pro-inflammatory cytokines, biotin fights chronic inflammation. Inflammation is thought to be responsible for many of the allergies and illnesses we suffer from today.
Biotin also rebuilds muscles and repairs injury. If you’re deficient, you’ll be susceptible to muscle and joint inflammation that causes aches and difficulty moving.
5. It Protects against Heart Disease
Biotin can reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease by promoting fat metabolism and fighting triglyceride levels. Healthy levels of biotin protect against inflammation and plaque buildup in the arteries, which can lead to stroke and heart attack.
6. It Boosts Healthy Skin and Hair
Biotin maintains the health of our hair, nails, and skin by synthesizing fatty acids and building keratin.
Fatty acids are an important part of our skin’s defense against environmental factors, acne, and rashes. Without them, our skin would look drawn, lined, and aged.
Biotin also helps synthesize keratin, which is a building block of hair. Without keratin, hair becomes thin, brittle, and stops growing.
Biotin is used in many beauty products, but researchers think your body is better able to use biotin if it’s eaten rather than applied topically.
7. It Boosts Thyroid Health
The thyroid is responsible for balancing hormones. It regulates sleep, pain perception, hunger, and energy as well as your mood.
Boosting biotin levels can prevent issues associated with adrenal fatigue that result in weight gain, insomnia, and fatigue.
8. It Creates a Healthy Metabolism
Without vitamin B7, your metabolism wouldn’t work properly and you’d have no energy.
It’s needed to break down the carbs, amino acids, fatty acids, and protein delivered through our food each day into usable fuel.
Are There Any Side Effects to Biotin?
Biotin is still under-researched, but so far there are very associated few side effects because it’s water soluble and released in urine. Too much biotin is simply flushed out.
Some people have reported digestive issues, and in high-level doses, it can mimic Graves’ disease in tests and disrupt thyroid test results.
How to Include Biotin in Your Everyday Life
There’s no official recommended daily allowance for biotin, but as we’ve seen, it’s an important part of your well-being.
Whether you’re experiencing a deficiency or just want to boost your beauty, vitamin B7 is easily found in foods, so overhauling your diet is the first step.
Try eating more:
- Oily fish, like salmon
- Whole-grain bread
- Eggs—biotin is only found in egg yolk
There are no regulated supplements specifically for biotin, but you can increase your intake with a full spectrum B vitamin, which is often sold as an energy complex rather than a hair, nail, and skin supplement.
It’s actually better to take the full B spectrum together, as B vitamins support one another. Your biotin levels will improve if you ensure that there’s a healthy supply of the other B vitamins, too.
It’s always a good idea to improve your diet so it includes more vitamins. It’s important to include them all and not neglect the vital vitamin B range that gets less attention than big names, like vitamin C.
You’ll see an improvement in your health and your beauty when vitamin B7 is your friend.