Biotin, or vitamin B7, is a water-soluble vitamin that’s a part of the vitamin B complex — a group of key nutrients needed for healthy metabolic, nerve, digestive and cardiovascular functions.
Biotin acts as a coenzyme in the body that’s needed for the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids and glucose. This means that when we eat foods that are sources of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, vitamin B7 — biotin — must be present in order to convert and use these macronutrients for bodily energy to carry out physical activities and for proper psychological functioning.
Biotin benefits include helping to give us a young, attractive appearance since it plays a major part in maintaining the health of our hair, nails and skin. In fact, biotin sometimes gets the nickname the “H” vitamin, which stems from the German words Haar and Haut, which mean “hair and skin.” Vitamin B7/biotin is commonly added to hair and skin beauty products, although it’s believed to not be absorbed very well through the skin and actually must be ingested to be fully beneficial.
Biotin can be found in foods like organ meats, eggs, avocado, cauliflower, berries, fish, legumes and mushrooms.
Deficiency Can Prevent the Many Biotin Benefits
A vitamin B7/biotin deficiency is rare in nations where people generally consume enough calories and food in general. This is mainly because of three reasons: the recommended daily requirements are relatively low; many common foods provide biotin; and researchers believe our intestinal digestive bacteria have the ability to create some biotin on their own. (1)
So what causes a biotin deficiency? Biotin is water-soluble, which means it travels in the bloodstream and any excess or unused quantities present in the body are eliminated through urine. Therefore, the body doesn’t build up reserves of biotin and it’s very difficult to consume too much; because of this, toxic levels are very rare. However, this also means that you must ideally ingest small amounts of vitamin B7 almost daily to keep your body’s supply high enough. (2)
As explained in a key study on biotin by Dr. Janos Zempleni et al., three proteins are important for the proper amounts of biotin to be maintained in the body (a process called homeostasis). These proteins are: biotinidase, the sodium-dependent multivitamin transporter (SMVT), and holocarboxylase synthetase (HCS). These proteins work together to make sure that biotin is released from foods that we eat and then absorbed through the gastrointestinal system. (3) Certain other proteins can sometimes interfere with this process, including avidin, which is found in raw egg whites.
Biotin (Vtamin B7) Supplementation
Vitamin B7 can be found as part of B-complex supplements, also sometimes called Adrenal Support Complex or Energy Complex supplements. These types of supplements usually include a full spectrum of B vitamins, including vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin B2 riboflavin and vitamin B3 niacin.
Together the B vitamin complex support metabolism activity, brain functions, nerve signaling and many other important daily functions. They also work with one another, so taking B vitamins together is always the best way to ensure you’ll get the most results.
If you plan to take B vitamin complex supplements, keep in mind that not all supplements are created equal. To get the most biotin benefits, purchase a high-quality multivitamin or supplement product that is made from real food sources and doesn’t contain fillers or toxins in order to get the most benefits.
These are made by joining together different collaborative nutrients so your body recognizes the vitamins and minerals and can use them in a synergistic way — similar to how they appear in food sources. Acquiring vitamins like vitamin B7 in this natural way gives you the most biotin benefits and helps you avoid unwanted, ineffective, synthetic vitamin fillers and toxins.