Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, B8 or vitamin H, is essential for life. The major biological function of biotin is to act as a covalently bound cofactor for the biological activities of five mammalian biotin-dependent carboxylases. These biotin-dependent carboxylases play a crucial role in essential biological processes, including fatty acid synthesis, gluconeogenesis, and amino acid metabolism. Biotin helps to trigger the reactions needed to convert food into energy. It also boosts the enzyme production that supports the metabolisation of fat and carbohydrates. Biotin injections support healthy cell growth and the creation of amino acids. Amino acids are essential for creating protein, so they have the ability to repair and maintain skin, hair and nail health.
The daily recommended amount of biotin is usually satisfied by diet. Humans are unable to produce their own biotin; however, bacteria found in our intestines have the capability to produce biotin. Nutritional deficiency is rare, but consuming raw eggs in products like mayonnaise or Caesar dressing on a regular basis may cause a biotin deficiency. A protein called avidin, present in raw eggs, strongly binds to biotin, making it unavailable for intestinal absorption. Cooking eggs denatures avidin and makes biotin available for absorption.
Like other members of the vitamin B complex, biotin is water-soluble and non-toxic. It is not stored on the body for very long.
History of Biotin
The discovery of biotin occurred in response to research investigating the cause of what was then known as ‘egg white injury’. It dates back to 1927 when it was observed that rats fed egg white developed dermatitis and lost hair.
There was an observation that the consumption of eggs in the diet is toxic to mammals and that the skin lesions caused by the diet could be cured by treatment with a heat-stable factor from yeasts or liver.
In 1924 three factors were identified as necessary for the growth of microorganisms. They are named bios II, vitamin H and coenzyme R. It eventually became clear that all three factors were the same water-soluble, sulphur containing vitamin, biotin.
In 1932 Koegl and Toennis isolated the vitamin from egg yolk. In 1936 they gave the name of biotin as the substance that was isolated from the yolk. It was the first time that they recognised that egg white injury could be healed by biotin supplements.
Between 1940 and 1943, the structure and properties of biotin were established, and the first chemical synthesis was completed by Harris and Associated of the Merck Company in 1943.
Sources of Biotin
Biotin is synthesised by intestinal bacteria, but there is a lack of evidence about how much biotin they provide. Biotin is stable at room temperature and is not destroyed by cooking. Some of the best sources of biotin in the diet include:
Factors that affect biotin production and absorption
Those that have relatively low levels of biotin include:
Symptoms of biotin deficiency