Eating a healthy diet that's rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains is crucial for staying healthy and fit. But sometimes you might need an extra boost, especially if your situation prevents you from eating the recommended amounts of these healthy foods. Taking a biotin supplement regularly can be helpful, not only for adults but also for children and adolescents, who need an adequate supply of this important vitamin as well.
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Biotin, sometimes called vitamin H, is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin, so your body can't store it and needs to take it in regularly. When you consume biotin, it's activated in your body and attaches to several enzymes in a process called biotinylation. These enzymes help your cells manufacture fatty acids, produce glucose from noncarbohydrate nutrients such as fats, and also control several steps in production of amino acids and proteins. Consuming biotin can help your body carry out these essential steps in nourishing your tissues and organs, especially if you're under stress or if you have a condition that slows absorption of biotin from your diet.
Helps Control Blood Sugar
Biotin may be helpful in controlling blood sugar, especially if you have or are at risk of diabetes. The Linus Pauling Institute summarizes laboratory research suggesting that biotin might stimulate insulin production and also help remove glucose from your blood by promoting its storage as glycogen in your liver. Clinical research suggests that it may be effective in human subjects, especially when combined with a mineral supplement called chromium picolinate. For example, a study published in the December 2006 issue of "Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics" found that subjects with diabetes who took biotin and chromium for four weeks had significantly lowered blood glucose levels, compared to their starting levels. These results are promising but still need further confirmation in larger trials with biotin alone.
Taking biotin tablets might also improve the strength of your fingernails, according to information provided by the Linus Pauling Institute, which reports that several small trials found improvement in brittle nails of female subjects taking biotin. These results still need further support from larger, well-controlled studies, however. Taking biotin might also have benefits for your nervous system, especially if you're diabetic and experience peripheral neuropathy, which can affect nerve function and cause tingling and numbness in arms or legs. In nerve cells, biotin promotes formation of microtubules, submicroscopic support structures crucial for the cell's function, and is also important for production of myelin, a nerve cell insulator.
The recommended daily intake of biotin is 30 to 100 micrograms for healthy adolescents or adults. It's usually a component of multivitamin preparations but is also available alone in tablets from pharmacies or health food stores, in doses of 10 to 100 micrograms per tablet. Although generally considered safe and without significant side effects, biotin tablets might interact with antibiotics, anti-seizure medicines or other drugs. Talk to your doctor about taking biotin to decide if it might be helpful for you.
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Biotin
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin H (Biotin)
- Linus Pauling Institute: Biotin
- Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics: The Effect of Chromium Picolinate and Biotin Supplementation on Glycemic Control in Poorly Controlled Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus -- A Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blinded, Randomized Trial
- Drugs.com: Biotin (Oral Route)