Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Vitamin B7 or biotin helps in the manufacture and utilization of amino acids and fats. The metabolism can be seriously impaired without biotin. However, because biotin is made in the intestines by intestinal bacteria, this vitamin is not talked about a lot as very few people have a biotin deficiency.
There is no official RDA for biotin, but it is generally understood that an intake of 30 to 100 mcg per day is believed to be adequate.
Why People Need Vitamin B7
All the B vitamins work together in a complex way to help turn food into energy and to produce the vast array of chemical substances the body needs to perform properly. B vitamins work in unison to turn food into energy.
Vitamin B7 is needed to properly make use of the amino acids and fats from foods. Biotin works especially well with folic acid, cobalamin and pantothenic acid.
Biotin is now found in some hair care products. The makers of these products claim that it helps make healthy hair and prevents graying and balding. Biotin is definitely needed for healthy hair. However, research has not shown that biotin in a conditioner or shampoo will do a lot for the hair. Hair which is lost due to a biotin deficiency will grow back when the condition is remedied: hair lost to balding will not come back by consuming more biotin.
Breeders who raise horses have known for decades that biotin helps make hooves harder. But does it also make fingernails stronger? A large dose would be needed, but since one cannot overdose on biotin it may be worth a try.
This vitamin is also suggested by some physicians for newborns who have cradle cap, an inflammation of the skin on the scalp. This is thought to help because infants do not have the bacteria in their bodies to make their own biotin. Talk to a pediatrician before trying this, however.
Vitamin B7 Requirements
As noted above, the body makes biotin in the intestines by using the friendly bacteria there. However, if someone is deficient for some reason supplements can be taken.
When the Body is Deficient
Although bition deficiencies are very rare, some people can fall into a group with a vitamin B7 deficiency, such as:
- People on very low-calorie diets - Someone on a very low-calorie diet for a very long period of time may become biotin deficient.
- Those who eat a lot of raw eggs - Someone who eats a lot of raw eggs (such as 15 or 20 per day) could become deficient in biotin because there is a substance in egg whites that binds with this vitamin and prevents the body from absorbing it.
- Individuals taking antibiotics - People who take antibiotics such as tetracycline or sulfa for an extended period of time can become biotin deficient because the antibiotics can kill all the bacteria in the body, including the bacteria that would normally make biotin.
Symptoms of Vitamin B7 Deficiencies
Someone with a severe biotin deficiency will notice their hair beginning to fall out. If the deficiency is corrected, hair will begin growing and become stabilized again.
Foods Containing Vitamin B7
Biotin can be found in many foods: however, the best sources of this vitamin are found in beef liver and brewer's yeast. Nuts, egg yolks, and whole grains are also good ways to consume biotin.
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