Benefits of Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Vitamin B7 is also known as biotin (or vitamin H). Biotin’s main function is to help the body to convert fat, protein, and carbs into energy. However, vitamin B7 has many other health benefits and uses. Some of biotin’s most important benefits include:
- Biotin is often taken as a dietary supplement to help make hair and nails stronger and more healthy. Vitamin B7 can help to heal brittle or split toenails and fingernails, as well as improve the feel and appearance of hair. Certain skin problems, like cradle cap, can be treated using biotin supplementation. This nutrient is also used to help inhibit the premature graying of hair, although it may only work for individuals who have low levels of biotin.
- Vitamin B7 can facilitate weight loss by helping the body to burn fat more efficiently.
- Biotin is necessary for proper development and growth, as well as for overall general health.
- Supplementation of this vitamin can be given to people suffering from diabetes to help lower blood sugar levels. Individuals who have type 2 diabetes also often have low biotin levels.
- It can function to relieve symptoms associated with a zinc deficiency.
- Biotin is critical for the production of fatty acids.
- Vitamin H may be helpful for relieving muscle pain.
Function of Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
After ingestion passing through the stomach, biotin is absorbed in the upper portion of the small intestines. Once inside the body, this nutrient is used for various important metabolic processes, including gluconeogenesis, fatty acid synthesis, and amino acid catabolism. It also functions as a cofactor that aids in the transfer of CO2 groups to various target macromolecules.
Vitamin B7 acts as coenzyme in conjunction with various enzymes responsible for metabolizing food into energy. Biotin is associated with nine different host enzymes. Enzymes are natural compounds that accelerate chemical reactions within the body.
Biotin is needed for the production of important intracellular carboxylase enzymes. As a coenzyme of carboxylase, biotin serves the critical function of transporting CO2 for important metabolic processes in the body. Excess biotin is eliminated from the body via urine.
Biotin is required by the body to produce fatty acids, amino acids, and glucose. It is also needed to convert macronutrients into usable energy. Just as with the other B vitamins, biotin is used as part of the process for breaking down food and converting it into energy.
Biotin contributes to the health and proper functioning of sweat glands, bone marrow, testicles, blood cells, and nerves. It is also critical for maintaining the health and development of hair and skin. It is stored in small amounts in the brain, liver, and muscles.
Biotin can be used for treating biotin-responsive disorders, including holocarboxylase synthetase deficiency and biotinidase deficiency. It is sometimes given, in large dosages, to infants suffering from infantile seborrhea, or to individuals who have certain genetic abnormalities resulting in problems metabolizing biotin.
There are actually two types of biotin: free biotin and protein-bound bound. Protein-bound biotin is generally found in bacteria and animals. Free biotin is more commonly found in plants. Our bodies are able to use both types. However, free biotin is more easily absorbed and used by the body. Protein-bound biotin must first be separated from the protein in order for our bodies to use it. Because of their high amounts of free biotin, plant foods are usually better dietary sources of vitamin B7 than foods that come from animals.
There are a variety of dietary sources of biotin, including liver, eggs, breakfast cereals, legumes, and nuts. Bacteria that live within the intestines actually make small quantities of biotin. This is then absorbed in the digestive tract and used by the body for nutritional needs. Vitamin B7 is moderately stable in heat, light, and air.
Taking a biotin supplement could help to improve the health and appearance of thin, split, or brittle toenails and fingernails. It is also often taken to support the health and appearance of hair. Some people have used vitamin B7 to treat alopecia (partial or total hair loss). Biotin is typically included in most multi-vitamin supplements.
Occurrence of a vitamin B7 (biotin) deficiency is very rare. However, in the case of a deficiency, various symptoms may present, including hair loss, skin problems, fatigue, malaise, and hallucinations.