Biotin is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin. As a coenzyme, it assists in the making of fatty acids and in the oxidation of fatty acids and carbohydrates. Without biotin the body's fat production is impaired. Biotin also aids in the utilization of protein, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B12.
Biotin is an essential nutrient that appears in trace amounts in all animal and plant tissue. Some rich sources of biotin are egg yolk, beef liver, unpolished rice, brewer's yeast, cauliflower and mushrooms.
Biotin is synthesized by the intestinal bacteria. Some of the vitamin is absorbed in the intestines, but much is excreted in the urine. Biotin is stored mainly in the liver, kidney, brain, and adrenal glands.
Raw egg white contains the protein avidin, which binds with biotin in the intestine and prevents its absorption by the body. However, since eggs are usually eaten in a cooked form and avidin is inactivated by heat, there is no real danger of a deficiency resulting from the ingestion of a cooked egg.
The National Research Council indicates that 150 to 300 micrograms of biotin (the RDA) will meet the body's daily needs. Additional amounts are required during pregnancy and lactation. There are no known toxic effects of this nutrient.
Deficiency Effects and Symptoms
Deficiency states have been reported in man only when the diet contained large amounts of raw egg white and when too many antibiotics were taken. Antibiotics interfere with the production of the intestinal bacteria from which biotin is produced.
A deficiency of biotin in man causes muscular pain, poor appetite, dry skin, lack of energy, sleeplessness, and a disturbed nervous system. Dermatitis, grayish skin color, and depression are other symptoms of a biotin deficiency. In severe deficiency there may be impairment of the body's fat metabolism. Lowered hemoglobin level, a raised cholesterol level, and a decrease in biotin excretion are signs of a biotin deficiency.
Beneficial Effect on Ailments
Dermatitis has shown improvement when treated with biotin. The use of biotin has been beneficial in treating baldness.