Biotin is one of the eight vitamins that make up the Vitamin B complex. A comparatively recent addition to the realm of vitamins, after isolating the compound in 1936, it took about 40 years of research before scientists unanimously declared it to be a vitamin. Sometimes referred to as Vitamin H, biotin serves many purposes in the health of the mind and the body.
There are at least four enzymes that require a partnership with biotin to function in the body. Among the purposes of these enzymes is to synthesize fatty acids and to produce glucose. Biotin is also necessary for the production of leucine, which is an essential amino acid. Recent studies have indicated that biotin has a part in the transcription and replication of DNA. In addition to being necessary for the nervous system to function properly, biotin is associated with the production of neurotransmitters in the brain, including those associated with cognitive function, emotional well being and memory.
The most concentrated sources of biotin come from organ meats, and plant sources tend to contain a much lower concentration of biotin that also tends to be more difficult for the body to use efficiently. Therefore, those following a vegetarian diet, especial a vegan diet, may want to consider the use of dietary supplements to make sure that their daily requirements for this water-soluble vitamin are being met. Because it washes away in the urine, the body requires a steady, daily supply of this nutrient to maintain peak performance levels.
As with all of the Vitamin B complex vitamins, deficiencies of biotin can have negative consequences for the health of both the body and the mind, some quite serious and some irreversible. Physical symptoms of biotin deficiency include such symptoms as muscle pain, disruptions of the appetite, nausea, diarrhea, dry skin and nails, brittle fingernails, hair loss and fungal infections. Deficiency in biotin has also been associated with an increase in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, those researchers are still studying the degree of potential connection. Biotin deficiency has been found to negatively affect the body’s natural immune system, and is thought to contribute to fat collecting around the liver and kidneys and malformations of the bones. It can even result in death. Mental symptoms of biotin deficiency include depression, fatigue and negative changes in cognitive function.
Biotin is a nutrient associated with many aspects of physical and mental health. Making sure to meet the recommended daily intake levels is important for all age groups. Pregnant women should pay close attention to the biotin levels in their diet, as biotin is also important for the growth and development of the baby while it is in the uterus. However, as with any other dietary supplement or medication taken during pregnancy, a qualified health care professional should be consulted to determine the most suitable dosage.
When used with care and according to standard dosage levels, dietary supplements are a safe and efficient means of maintaining the necessary daily biotin levels. In fact, for vegetarians, a dietary supplement containing biotin is probably a very smart choice.