Biotin, or vitamin H, is one of the B-complex vitamins that is essential for the body’s energy and metabolism. The suggested dosage of biotin is 30 to 100 mcg daily, according to the MayoClinic. Biotin is a natural substance in foods and available as a supplement. It is a key vitamin for encouraging the production of protein for nail growth. Biotin is not a substitute for medical treatment; consult with a health-care professional to discuss any potential risks.
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What Is Biotin?
Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin, which is not stored in the body; however, bacteria in the intestines do produce it, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Biotin helps fuel the body by converting food into glucose. In addition, biotin helps the body metabolize fats and proteins for healthy skin and hair, and maintains energy to support the nervous system.
Biotin is a natural component in many of the foods that you eat, such as carrots, eggs, tomatoes, chard, romaine lettuce, almonds, cauliflower, cucumber, goat’s milk, cow’s milk, raspberries, strawberries, halibut, oats and walnuts, reports WHFoods.org.
Biotin encourages nail growth and is absorbed in the core of the nail, the part embedded in the finger where cells are generated, states Dr. Richard K. Scher, a professor of dermatology and head of the Nail Section at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, New York. Sher suggests biotin supplements might help promote thicker nail growth and has marked success with two-thirds of his patients.
The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University reports that biotin supplements are effective in treating horse and pig hoof abnormalities, thereby speculating that biotin is helpful in strengthening brittle nails in humans.
Biotin taken as a supplement has shown no discernible side effects when taken in doses suggested by a health-care professional. However, a potential risk for an allergic reaction is possible that might exhibit symptoms such as respiratory problems, chest tightness, throat swelling, chest pain, hives, rash and inflamed skin, according to the Physicians’ Desktop Reference website.
Prior to starting biotin supplements, consult with your health-care professional. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports supporting evidence that biotin interacts with medications, but antibiotics and anticonvulsant medications might deplete biotin levels.
Nail abnormalities may be an indication of a biotin deficiency. In addition to nail problems, hair loss, seizures, muscle cramps and pains, lack of muscle coordination and lack of muscle tone are additional symptoms reported with biotin deficiency, reports WHFoods.org.