Biotin (also known as vitamin B7 or vitamin H) is a water-soluble vitamin that serves as an essential cofactor for carboxylase enzymes in multiple metabolic pathways. Due to its relatively low cost and abundance of availability in cosmetic products, biotin has become the new trend for consumers wishing to have longer, healthier hair and nails. Biotin deficiency can be either acquired or congenital. Though an acquired biotin deficiency is possible, it is still rare. A commonly documented cause of acquired biotin deficiency is secondary to increased raw egg consumption. The protein avidin, found in raw egg whites, can be denatured through cooking, but when uncooked, this protein binds to biotin tightly preventing it from being used as an essential cofactor.
Biotin is found in small amounts in food. “Foods that contain biotin are liver, cauliflower, salmon, carrots, bananas, soy flour, yeast, wheat germ, whole-grain cereals, whole wheat bread, eggs, dairy products, nuts, Swiss chard and chicken,”
B7 may also be helpful in the treatment of diabetes. A study found that a treatment that combines chromium picolinate and B7 improves glucose metabolism in patients with type 2 diabetes. High doses of biotin were also found helpful in the treatment of peripheral neuropathy, a symptom of diabetes.
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