Could too little biotin hinder your weight-loss effort? Probably not. Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin needed by the body. It contributes to the metabolism of nutrients and helps determine what genes your cells express. Enzymes involved in making fat, making glucose and breaking down amino acids require biotin. High doses of biotin may help people with high triglycerides, blood glucose levels and insulin insensitivity. But evidence does not support use of biotin for weight loss.
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Dietary Recommendations and Food Sources
Healthy people who eat a well-balanced diet rarely develop a biotin deficiency. Smokers, people who take certain types of medications and those who eat lots of raw eggs are at greater risk for developing a biotin deficiency. Some genetic conditions reduce a person’s ability to absorb dietary biotin, but these are detected early in life. Adults need 30 micrograms a day of biotin. Biotin is available in a number of foods including whole grains like whole-wheat bread, nuts, fish, pork, fruits and vegetables, and cooked eggs.
Biotin and Metabolism
The body turns excess calories into fat. The first key step in the process uses an enzyme that contains biotin. The enzyme is called acetyl-coA carboxylase, or ACC. Decreased ACC enzyme activity may result in reduced synthesis of fat for storage as triglyceride and greater use of fat as an energy source, according to the results of a mouse study published in 2007 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Biotin is also needed by enzymes that break down amino acids. An enzyme that makes new glucose to maintain blood sugar levels when you need energy but do not have enough dietary carbohydrate available also requires biotin. However, evidence does not support the use of dietary or supplemental biotin to help with weight loss.
Biotin and Blood Lipids
Overweight and obesity are associated with elevated triglycerides -- fat -- and LDL -- the “bad cholesterol” -- both of which are risk factors for heart disease. High doses of biotin combined with chromium resulted in reduced triglyceride levels in a subset of diabetic patients, according to a research study published in Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics in 2006. In 2006 in the journal Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy, researchers demonstrated that nondiabetic and diabetic participants with high triglycerides at the start of the study had lower triglycerides and a precursor to LDL called VLDL after taking biotin. Still, at this time, biotin is not a recommended treatment for high cholesterol or high triglycerides. Discuss health-related concerns and supplement use with your health care provider.
Biotin, Chromium and Blood Sugar
Obesity and high blood sugar are modifiable factors that increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes. In the British Journal of Nutrition in 2013, researchers revealed that biotin improved blood sugar and overall insulin sensitivity in diabetic rodents. A study published in Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics in 2006 showed that high-dose biotin and chromium supplementation used in conjunction with oral medication improved blood sugar control in diabetic participants previously unable to regulate their blood sugar levels with medication. Other researchers found that biotin did not improve blood sugar control of diabetics or nondiabetics. Discuss your health care concerns and supplement use with your health care provider. Biotin and chromium are not recommended supplements for high blood glucose.
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Biotin
- Linus Pauling Institute: Biotin
- Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences: Structure and Function of Biotin-Dependent Carboxylases
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Continuous Fat Oxidation in Acetyl-CoA Carboxylase 2 Knockout Mice Increases Total Energy Expenditure, Reduces Fat Mass, and Improves Insulin Sensitivity
- The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry: Effects of Biotin Supplementation in the Diet on Insulin Secretion, Islet Gene Expression, Glucose Homeostasis, and Beta-cell Proportion. (2013, abstract).
- British Journal of Nutrition: Anti-Diabetic Activity of Chromium Picolinate and Biotin in Rats with Type 2 Diabetes Induced by High-fat Diet and Streptozotocin
- 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. (abstract)
- Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy: Biotin Supplementation Reduces Triacylglycerol and VLDL in Type 2 Diabetic Patients and Nondiabetic Subjects with Hypertriglycermia (abstract).
- American Heart Association: Good vs. Bad Choleserol
- American Diabetes Association: Modifiable Risk Factors