What is Biotin? Learn About Hair Growth and Biotin Benefits

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History and Description

W. G. Bateman, in 1916, discovered that adding a raw egg to a normal diet resulted in dermatitis, hair loss, muscle pain, depression, lassitude, nausea and anorexia. Later, avidin, a protein in egg whites, was discovered to have the unfortunate ability of preventing the absorption of biotin. By 1935, scientists had isolated biotin. Thus, these symptoms were a result of biotin deficiency.

Functions and Deficiency

Biotin is necessary for the body’s use of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Without biotin, a person may experience hair loss and seborrheic dermatitis, a disease commonly found in infants. These symptoms of biotin deficiency disappear with supplementation. Unfortunately, research has not demonstrated that biotin is a cure for hair loss even though a biotin deficiency results in hair loss.

Patients undergoing long-term hemodialysis may experience speech disorders, restless legs, walking difficulties as well as disorientation. Some evidence suggests that supplementing with biotin may help prevent or treat these disorders.

Biotin is both found in commonly eaten foods as well as manufactured by the body. People who eat large quantities of raw eggs (like body builders) as well as infants with a genetic defect may be susceptible to biotin deficiency.

It could be that, just as some research suggests, biotin deficiency may actually be more common than some may think. Those who experience chronic fatigue and are also suffering from hair loss may be experiencing biotin deficiency. The intestines, where biotin is produced, may not be healthy enough to produce biotin.

The Recommended Daily Intake for biotin is 300 mcg. Good food sources of biotin include pork, lamb, chicken, liver, veal, cheese, milk, soy beans and whole wheat flour. Cooking eggs destroys the substance that binds biotin, thereby allowing biotin to be absorbed into the body. Unlike many vitamins, biotin remains bioavailable after undergoing processing and cooking.

References

Lieberman, Shari, The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book

Reinhard, Tonia, The Vitamin Sourcebook

Biotin

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