Vitamin B-7, also called biotin, is a vital part of a healthy metabolism and creating important enzymes. Biotin is often used to strengthen hair and nails, and is also called Vitamin H (for hair).
The human body cannot synthesize biotin. Only bacteria, molds, yeasts, algae, and certain plants can make it, so the diet needs to supply it.
Unused biotin is eliminated in urine, so the body does not build up reserves. It must be consumed daily.
Biotin supplements are widely available in health food stores, but biotin deficiency is rare, and there is little evidence to suggest that most people need them.
Biotin is a coenzyme involved in the metabolism of:
- Fatty acids, a type of molecule found in fats and oils
- Leucine, an essential amino acid that humans cannot synthesize
- Gluconeogenesis, the synthesis of glucose from molecules that are not carbohydrates, for example, amino and fatty acids
Coenzymes are substances that enhance an enzyme’s action. Coenzymes cannot trigger or speed up a biological reaction, but they help enzymes do so.
- Little is known about how much biotin people need, but the United States Food and Nutrition Board suggest that infants of
- 0 to 6 months should have 6 micro grams a day
- For adults of 19 years and older rising to 30 micro grams a day
- 35 micro grams for breastfeeding women.
A wide range of foods contain biotin. None of them have large amounts, as is the case with some other vitamins.
Foods that have slightly higher amounts include:
- Whole-wheat bread
- Cheddar cheese
- Egg yolk
Egg white reduces the effectiveness of biotin from egg yolk in the body because it binds biotin and prevents it from being absorbed. People who consume only egg white for many years without biotin supplementation have a slight risk of not getting enough vitamin B-7.
Processing food reduces levels of nutrients such as biotin, so raw cauliflower, for example, would provide more biotin than cooked cauliflower.