Biotin, also known in English nomenclature as vitamin B7, is also referred to as vitamin H, but you may also hear it being called vitamin B8 (German nomenclature), or simply by the name Biotin.
It acts as the “coenzyme” that is necessary for the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids and glucose; this means that when we eat foods with any fat, protein or carbohydrate content, Biotin has to be present in our body in order to convert and utilise these macronutrients as usable energy, for physical and mental activities. Biotin is very important for both your skin and your scalp, as well as helping to regulate the normal mechanism of bone-marrow.
On an aesthetic level, Biotin also plays a very important role in maintaining a young and attractive appearance, supporting the health of your skin and, in particular, helping to strengthen nails and hair. It is commonly added to beauty products for your hair and skin – although absorption through the skin is not particularly effective and oral ingestion is the primary route to enjoy the maximum benefits – and it is always found widespread in the form of dietary supplements, along with other cofactors which are beneficial to the health of your hair, nails and skin.
Biotin is therefore necessary to maintain the health of your skin, hair and nails and to deal with and combat certain symptoms of imbalance such as thinning hair (N.B. it has no anti hair loss action), fragile hair and hair breakage, or during times of particular stress with the presence of dermatitis, making your skin dry and irritated. Dermatologically we find other benefits of biotin such as protecting the skin from acne, fungal infections, skin rashes and severe dryness and flaking.
As mentioned before, Biotin – together with other B vitamins – is necessary for converting the food that we eat into usable energy, in various ways: it converts glucose from sources of carbohydrates and sugars into usable fuel which is the body’s “preferred” energy source; it helps the body to utilise the amino acids from proteins in order to facilitate certain functions of the body; and it activates the fatty acids in foods that contain oils or animal fats. The biological importance of biotin as an enzyme cofactor has led to research that suggests its potential positive action in improving glucose metabolism in the human body. Biotin improves the efficient use of glucose, making it useful in cases of type 2 diabetes, which today is increasingly common in our modern society. Without a sufficient dose of Biotin in the body, symptoms of a metabolic slowdown can occur in the form of chronic fatigue, digestive problems, low energy levels, weight gain, possible development of diabetes, changes in appetite and changes in mood. From a metabolic point of view, Biotin – especially when combined with chromium – helps to lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, as it facilitates insulin activity, which is the fundamental hormone that restores balance to blood sugars. By improving the insulin response, it can help to reduce the risk of hyperglycaemia and improve insulin resistance which can lead to pre-diabetic states, type 2 diabetes, body weight gain and some metabolic syndromes. Of particular interest is the fact that it also helps to counteract the enzymatic action that stimulates the production of glucose in the liver, therefore fewer sugars are released into the blood.
No cases of toxicity or side effects have been reported. Biotin levels may be compromised if you take anti-epileptic drugs, oral antibiotics, or in the case of a digestive tract disorder which may destroy normal intestinal flora. Some medications prescribed for the treatment of acne may also reduce the activity of Vitamin B7.