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Biotin is also known as Vitamin H, or Vitamin B7. It is a water-soluble vitamin. It is found in carrots, bananas, cereals and chocolate among others. It is also manufactured in small amounts by intestinal bacteria.
What does Biotin do?
It contributes to normal energy yielding metabolism - Biotin has a vital involvement with 5 important enzymes known as carboxylases. Two of these enzymes (Acetyl-CoA carboxylase 1 and 2) are important for both making fatty acids in the cells and regulating the oxidation of fatty acids n the mitochondria. Another important enzyme (Pyruvate carboxylase) that requires Biotin is needed for making glucose from sources other than from carbohydrates, such as amino acids. Biotin is also required for the breakdown of the amino acid leucine to yield energy.
It contributes to normal functioning of the nervous system - Biotin is required to help produce cholesterol (Propionyl-CoA carboxylase enzyme) and cholesterol is essential for the formation of hormones and cell membranes. The brain produces cholesterol for the synthesis of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals that transmit nerve impulses)
It contributes to normal macronutrient metabolism - Biotin is required for the enzyme needed for several steps in the metabolism of certain amino acids, cholesterol and certain fatty acids (odd chain ones).
It contributes to normal psychological function - Biotin is involved in aspects of brain and nerve function resulting in normal mental performance which determine concentration, learning, memory and reasoning.
It contributes to the maintenance of normal hair - As Biotin is required for the carboxylase enzyme needed to build up and breakdown protein, this affects hair growth as hair is made up of the protein keratin.
It contributes to the maintenance of normal mucous membranes - As Biotin is involved in cell regeneration of fast growing cells such as those found in mucous membranes and skin.
It contributes to the maintenance of normal skin.
Biotin also attaches to another protein molecule and this is known as Biotinylation that is important in regulating DNA replication. Biotin is broken down more rapidly during pregnancy so requirements during pregnancy, as with many nutrients, are higher.
Deficiency of Biotin
Deficiency may result in hair loss or brittle hair, cradle cap in infants, dermatitis, dry skin or rashes, eczema, conjunctivitis, altered mental status, muscle pains, tingling skin, tiredness and lethargy among others relating to the functions above.
Biotin deficiency can occur:
From eating raw egg white as this contains a protein, avadin that blocks biotin absorption
In infants lacking intestinal bacteria that manufacture biotin
People taking antibiotics because these may kill intestinal bacteria that produce biotin
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