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Biotin, also known as vitamin H or B7 and C10H16N2O3S (Biotin; Coenzyme R, Biopeiderm), is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin which is composed of an ureido ring fused with a tetrahydrothiophene ring. A valeric acid substituent is attached to one of the carbon atoms of the tetrahydrothiophene ring. Biotin is important in the catalysis of essential metabolic reactions to synthesize fatty acids, in gluconeogenesis
, and to metabolize leucine. It is commonly found in pyruvate dehydrogenase as a carrier of HCO3-.General overview
Biotin is used in cell growth, the production of fatty acids, metabolism of fats, and amino acids. It plays a role in the Krebs Cycle, which is the process
in which energy is released from food. Biotin not only assists in various metabolic chemical conversions, but also helps with the transfer of carbon dioxide. Biotin is also helpful in maintaining a steady blood sugar level. Biotin is often recommended for strengthening hair and nails. Consequently, it is found in many cosmetic and health products for the hair and skin.
Biotin supplements are often recommended as a natural product to counteract the problem of hair loss in both children and adults.
Cradle cap (seborrheic dermatitis)
Children with a rare inherited metabolic disorder called phenyulketonuria (PKU; in which one is unable to break down the amino acid phenylalanine) often develop skin conditions such as eczema and seborrheic dermatitis in areas of the body other than the scalp. The scaly skin changes that occur in people with PKU may be related to poor ability to use biotin. Increasing dietary biotin in the diet has been known to improve seborrheic dermatitis in these cases.
People with type 2 diabetes often have low levels of biotin. Biotin may be involved in the synthesis and release of insulin. Preliminary studies in both animals and people suggest that biotin may help improve blood sugar control in those with diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes.
Biotin deficiency is a rare nutritional disorder caused by a deficiency of biotin. Biotin deficiency can have a very serious, even fatal, outcome if it is allowed to progress without treatment. Signs and symptoms of biotin deficiency can develop in persons of any age, race, or gender. Biotin deficiency rarely occurs in healthy individuals, since the daily requirements of biotin are low, many foods contain adequate amounts, intestinal bacteria synthesize small amounts, and the body effectively scavenges and recycles biotin from bodily waste. However, deficiency can be caused by excessive consumption of raw egg-whites over a long period (months to years). Egg-whites contain high levels of avidin, a protein that binds biotin stongly. Once a biotin-avidin complex forms, the bond is essentially irreversible. The biotin-avidin complex is not broken down nor liberated during digestion, and the biotin-avidin complex is lost in the feces. Once cooked, the egg-white avidin becomes denatured and entirely non-toxic.Initial symptoms of biotin deficiency include:
Rashes including erythematous periorofacial macular rash
Fine and brittle hair
Hair loss or total alopecia
If left untreated, neurological symptoms can develop, including:
Mild depression, which may progress to profound lassitude and, eventually, to somnolence
Changes in mental status
Generalized muscular pains (myalgias)
Hyperesthesias and paresthesias
The treatment for biotin deficiency is to simply start taking some biotin supplements.