What is Biotin?

Biotin is a common name for Vitamin H, a part of the B vitamin group. Although it isn’t required by the body in large quantities, it still plays a vital role in the functioning of the body.

Like all vitamins in the B complex vitamins group, biotin, too, helps break down carbohydrates into energy. Similarly, it also helps in metabolizing fats and protein. Furthermore, most of the B complex vitamins, including biotin, are required for the body to maintain a healthy skin, liver, eyes, and hair, as well as for supporting the nervous system.

Although biotin is believed to be useful for the health in various ways, the only proven benefit is treating biotin deficiency. However, biotin deficiency tends to be extremely rare, and biotin is also found in small quantities in a number of foods. It’s also produced by bacteria in the intestine.

Biotin deficiency is usually caused in people who are suffering from some long term illness, which damages the ability of their body to absorb nutrients properly. Common symptoms include thinning of hair, hair loss, painful tongue, insomnia, loss of appetite, depression, and dry skin.

Biotin, just like the other B complex vitamins, is water soluble. This means that the body cannot store it, which is probably the reason it’s needed on a regular basis.

Health Benefits of Biotin

Despite there not being much conclusive evidence to prove biotin’s other health benefits, some preliminary research suggests biotin can be used for a wide range of health problems, besides treating biotin deficiency.

1. Treating Hair Loss and Nail Problems

It’s believed that when biotin is taken orally, along with zinc, it helps prevent hair loss. However, it may also require a cream containing the compound clobetasol propionate to be applied to the skin.

Similarly, some weak evidence also suggests that biotin may help prevent thinning, splitting, and brittleness of hair, nails, and even toe.

When it comes to treating hair loss and hair related problems, there seems to be a bit of logic to it, as thinning of hair tends to be a very common symptom of biotin deficiency.

2. Diabetes

Although biotin itself isn’t believed to be very effective against diabetes, when used with chromium, it may help regulate the blood sugar levels. Furthermore, according to some early research, it may also improve ratios of the good and bad cholesterol levels to the HDL and non-HDL cholesterol levels.

Similarly, it may also help treat the nerve pain usually experienced while suffering from diabetes.

3. Cradle Cap

Many infants born with biotin deficiency suffer from this condition known as cradle cap. However, no studies have confirmed the benefits of biotin supplements for treating this condition.

4. Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy refers to nerve damage in the hands, legs, feet, or arms. Biotin seems to be effective in treating this condition, especially when caused due to diabetes or kidney failure.

Again, no studies have been done on this yet, but there are some reports of patients showing improvement due to using biotin supplements as a treatment.

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Taking Biotin Supplements

Firstly, you should consult a doctor before starting to take heavy doses of biotin, as biotin overdose is considered to be very dangerous. Similarly, you need to be extra cautious while giving biotin supplements to a child.

Coming to the ideal dosage, it varies according to the age. For infants, it’s between 5-6 mcg. For children between the age of 1-3 years, the recommended dosage is 8 mcg, while for the ones in the age group 4-8 years is 12 mcg. For the rest up to 18 years of age, it tends to be 20-25 mcg.

For adults, the recommended dosage is 30 mcg, while for breastfeeding women, it is 35 mcg.

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