As discussed further down, biotin is a B vitamin that breaks down food (fat, protein, and carbohydrates) and converts them into energy.
Biotin deficiency can cause problems for your body, but usually, a healthy person with a balanced diet does not suffer from it. Read this article to learn more about biotin and biotin deficiency, its symptoms, causes, and side effects.
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Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin. It means that biotin is neither stored nor produced in our bodies. However, a bacteria called intestinal flora can produce biotin in your gut.
Biotin is from the B complex family, and it converts fats and carbohydrates to energy. Biotin is also known as B-7, vitamin H, or coenzyme R.
Biotin is necessary to produce keratin, which is crucial for strong hair and nail. Biotin is also good for a healthy nervous system. Furthermore, it helps regulate LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood sugar.
Biotin deficiency is generally very rare. If you are healthy and eat nutritious food, it's improbable to have a biotin deficiency. However, it can be seen in patients with a short gut or malabsorption. Taking antibiotics, too, can cause biotin deficiency.
As mentioned earlier, biotin deficiency is very rare. A healthy person with a well-balanced diet does not show symptoms of this deficiency.
But still, it happens under certain conditions. The following are the most common side effects and symptoms of biotin deficiency:
There are a couple of things that can cause biotin deficiency:
Since biotin deficiency is very rare, it might not be the first diagnosis of your doctor. If the symptoms persist, your doctor might order blood work to rule out biotin deficiency.
Sometimes, low levels of vitamin B-7 (biotin) happen for other deficiencies other than biotin. Your doctor might ask for more blood work to decide what has caused low levels of B-7 in your body.
Generally speaking, people with health conditions that stop their bodies from absorbing vitamins and nutrients are at risk of biotin deficiency.
People with biotinidase deficiency (BTD), as discussed earlier, are at the biggest risk of biotin disorder. BTD is a rare inherited disorder where the body is incapable of absorbing biotin.
This disorder shows its symptoms the first few weeks and months after birth. Some of the most common signs are:
Very rarely, children with BTD suffer:
If not treated, BTD can be fatal.
As mentioned above, pregnant and breastfeeding women, IV-feeding patients, patients who take antibiotics and anti-seizure medications, and people with chronic alcohol drinking problems are also at risk of developing biotin deficiency.
There are two major ways to address and treat biotin deficiency. One is taking this vitamin by incorporating food that has B-7 in your diet. The other is taking biotin supplements.
Biotin can be easily added to your diet by very common foods:
The food you consume should be fresh. Avoid processed food, as it ruins biotin and other nutrients.
Biotin is available as a single supplement or in multivitamins. Biotin supplements come in different amounts: 10, 50, and 100 mcg. You need to consult with your doctor to see which fits your physical needs.
If you think you are suffering from the same symptoms, most common of all, hair loss, consult with your doctor to make sure the B-7 level in your body is as it should be.
You can be a massive help to your doctor in reaching a decision. Keep a journal of what you eat and when you eat. Write down the symptoms, like thinning hair. This will help your physician to rule out different causes and decide if you need treatment for biotin deficiency or not.
The good news is that biotin deficiency is treatable. You can change your diet, have more nutritious foods, or take biotin supplements.
If all these don't help, your doctor will order more blood work and do more examinations to see if it is due to intestinal problems or something else.
Biotin, or vitamin B-7, is an essential vitamin that breaks down food and transforms it into energy. Although biotin is not stored in our bodies, we rarely face biotin deficiency.
Biotin exists in lots of natural foods, and by respecting a well-balanced diet, we can have enough of this vitamin in our bodies. There are also supplements, individual or multivitamins, containing daily biotin intake.
In rare cases of biotin deficiency, there are symptoms and signs to observe. Biotin deficiency can easily be treated. But if not treated, it can be fatal. Some of the side effects of this deficiency are seizure, hair loss, eczema, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women, IV-feeding patients, individuals with excessive alcohol drinking problems, and infants with biotinidase deficiency (BTD) are at high risk of biotin deficiency.
If you keep a journal of what you eat and what symptoms you are experiencing, you can help your doctor reach a better decision.
The treatment of biotin deficiency is very easy. It is with a change in your diet or taking a supplement. In cases where these treatments don't help, your doctor can do more tests and examinations to rule out possible diseases and diagnose the condition that causes your symptoms.