Biotin is necessary for cell growth, the production of fatty acids, and the metabolism of fats and amino acids. Biotin assists in various metabolic reactions involving the transfer of carbon dioxide. It may also be helpful in maintaining a steady blood sugar level.
Biotin deficiency is rare because gut flora (good Bactria in our intestine). However, a number of metabolic disorders exist in which an individual’s metabolism of biotin is abnormal, such as deficiency in the holocarboxylase synthetase enzyme which covalently links biotin onto the carboxylase, where the biotin acts as a cofactor.
Biotin is often recommended as a dietary supplement for strengthening hair and nails, though scientific data supporting this outcome are weak. Nevertheless, biotin is found in many cosmetics and health products for the hair and skin.
Biotin is consumed from a wide range of food sources in the diet, but few are particularly rich sources. Foods with a relatively high biotin content include peanuts, Swiss chard, raw egg yolk (however, the consumption of avidin-containing egg whites with egg yolks minimizes the effectiveness of egg yolk’s biotin in one’s body), liver, Saskatoon berries, and leafy green vegetables. The dietary biotin intake in Western populations has been estimated to be 35 to 70 μg/d (143–287 nmol/d).
Anyone can take biotin as it is treated as a supplement and not a drug. “Since it’s found in most foods, most of us already meet our daily requirements simply by consuming a nutrient-rich diet,” notes Fyshe. Biotin is also safe for pregnant women, but it’s always best to check with your doctor to determine what dosage is right for you. It can be found in a multivitamin, B complex or in pure tablet form and is readily available over the counter.