Insulin is a pancreatic hormone that helps transport glucose from the blood to various tissues in your body. Reduced sensitivity of the cells and tissues to the hormone is termed as "insulin resistance," and it can lead to increased levels of glucose in the blood. Insulin resistance also increases the risk of several conditions such as diabetes, dyslipidemia and heart disease. Your doctor may prescribe medications along with diet and exercise to improve insulin sensitivity. The role of vitamins such as biotin in managing insulin resistance is unclear. So, you must talk to a doctor before using them.
Biotin, also known as vitamin H, is part of the water-soluble vitamin B complex. Your body, as per the Linus Pauling Institute, requires 5 to 35 micrograms of the vitamin per day to help metabolize food, promote nervous function and to maintain healthy skin, hair, eyes and liver. Biotin can be obtained from certain foods, such as nuts, soybeans, legumes, whole grains, cauliflowers and bananas. Your doctor may also recommend biotin supplements to treat a biotin deficiency, diabetes, dermatitis and peripheral nerve damage. The dose depends on your age and health history. Your doctor may help establish a regimen that is right for you.
Biotin plays an important role in the metabolism of carbohydrates and animal models deficient in biotin have defective insulin sensitivity, says a study published in the May 2011 issue of the “Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.” The Linus Pauling Institute also states that biotin supplementation helps lower blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetes, which commonly occurs due to reduced sensitivity of fat, muscle and liver cells to insulin. Dr. Gabriel Cousens, author of the book “There Is a Cure for Diabetes,” reaffirms that biotin increases insulin sensitivity and activates the enzyme glucokinase associated with utilization of glucose in the liver. This may, in turn, help lower blood glucose levels. The National Institutes of Health, however, points out that biotin alone may not decrease the blood glucose levels in individuals with Type 2 diabetes but a combination of biotin and chromium may help control hyperglycemia.
There are no major side effects associated with biotin at recommended doses. It is possibly safe even during pregnancy and breastfeeding, according to the National Institutes of Health. The supplements may, however, interfere with certain antibiotics and anticonvulsant medications.
Although you do not require a prescription to buy biotin supplements, you must not do it without consulting a doctor. Also, make sure that the supplements have been tested for safety and efficacy, or have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration or the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention.
- Linus Pauling Institute: Biotin
- "Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry"; Effects of Biotin Deficiency on Pancreatic Islet Morphology, Insulin Sensitivity and Glucose Homeostasis; E. Larrieta, et al.; May 2011
- "There is a Cure for Diabetes"; Gabriel Cousens, et al.; 2008
- National Institutes of Health: Biotin