Biotin is a type of vitamin that has several different functions within the human body. Typically, people get enough of it through dietary means, and the body also produces and recycles the vitamin. However, people who have certain medical conditions or who are taking certain medications may need to use biotin supplements. These supplements are often used for nail or hair health, and may also be useful for high cholesterol.
What Is Biotin?
Biotin (vitamin B7) is a water-soluble vitamin. It is sometimes known as vitamin H. Only a small amount is needed, and many foods contain the vitamin. Also, the intestinal flora (the microorganisms that live in the digestive tract) produce it, and it is "recycled" within the human body. As a result, deficiencies are quite rare, although some situations may increase the risk of a deficiency (such as certain medications or medical conditions).
Biotin is essential for human health, and deficiencies can cause a wide variety of problems. People often use it for nail or hair health, although there has been recent interest in biotin for other uses, such as for high cholesterol.
Biotin is necessary for the proper functioning of various enzymes. These enzymes are essential for several different functions within the body.
Is It Effective?
Biotin is effective at treating biotin deficiencies and may possibly be effective for other uses as well (see Does Biotin Work? for more information).
The Institute of Medicine has provided general guidelines for dietary requirements for most people. However, dosing recommendations for specific uses (rather than for general nutritional supplementation) have not yet been established.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed February 5, 2008.
Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline (2000). Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2000. Available at: http://books.nap.edu/books/0309065542/html/. Accessed February 5, 2008.
Debourdeau PM, Djezzar S, Estival JL, Zammit CM, Richard RC, Castot AC. Life-threatening eosinophilic pleuropericardial effusion related to vitamins B5 and H. Ann Pharmacother. 2001;35(4):424-6.
National Library of Medicine (US). Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB). NLM Web site. Available at: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?HSDB. Accessed February 5, 2008.
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