Welcome back to vitamin break down! This series looks to breakdown the vitamin alphabet to let you know exactly what, is doing what. We’ve been slowly marching our way through the B vitamins, which bring us nicely to our next breakdown.
Vitamin B7, more commonly known as biotin, or even less commonly; vitamin H, is a water-soluble nutrient. This means it passes through liquid in the body and can’t be stored in reserves such as fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A.
B7 is of course part of the B vitamin family. B vitamins help support adrenal function, calm and maintain a healthy nervous system, and are necessary for key metabolic processes in the body.
Enzymes & Coenzymes
Biotin is a coenzyme. Coenzymes are substances that enhance an enzyme’s action. Coenzymes cannot trigger or speed up a biological reaction, but they help enzymes do so. Enzymes are produced by all living organisms. They act as a catalyst to bring about a specific biochemical reaction, or help speed one up, within the human body. They bind to molecules and alter them in specific ways. They are essential for respiration, digesting food, muscle and nerve function, among thousands of other roles.
Biotin has vital metabolic functions. Without biotin as a co-factor, many enzymes do not work properly, and serious complications can occur, including varied diseases of the skin, intestinal tract, and nervous system.
B7 is crucial for the body’s metabolism of nutrients and as such, energy production. B7 as a coenzyme, transfers carbon dioxide, an important step in breaking down food. This role is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrate, fat, proteins and helps process glucose.
It plays a further key role in several other metabolic processes. It’s particularly important job is being involved in helping the body effectively process;
Fatty acids, a type of molecule found in fats and oils
Leucine, an essential amino acid that humans cannot synthesize
Gluconeogenesis, the synthesis of glucose from molecules that are not carbohydrates, for example, amino and fatty acids
Blood & Blood Sugars
B7 crucial for Haemostasis; the body’s normal physiological response for the prevention and stopping of bleeding/haemorrhage. It results in the blocking of any vascular breach. Generally speaking, it helps ensure blood fluidity and blood vessel integrity.
Biotin can help address high blood glucose levels, especially essential for people with type 2 diabetes. One study found that people with diabetes had lower levels of biotin than people without the condition. B7 may do this by aiding the body to process glucose through decreasing insulin resistance and improving glucose tolerance. In fact in rats, it has been found to stimulate the secretion of insulin.
Nervous System & Psychological Function
Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur if you have diabetes. High blood sugar/glucose can injure nerves throughout your body. Diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in your legs and feet. Some reports have suggested that biotin supplements can improve symptoms of neuropathy in people with diabetes. However, these have not been confirmed by research.
The brain is particularly sensitive to the delivery and metabolism of glucose. As B7 plays such a key role in glucose metabolism , there are clear ramifications for mental clarity, focus and general cognitive functioning.
Very high doses of biotin have been observed to possibly change the course of several rare neurodegenerative diseases. Researchers have tested whether there may be some benefit to treating MS with B7. The exact mechanism underlying neurodegeneration in MS is unknown. High doses of biotin may help in countering the loss of mitochondrial energy metabolism or help by stimulating the basic pathways for myelin formation via its effect as a coenzyme for the numerous carboxylases involved in both these processes.
Biotin often gets pigeonholed as a beauty vitamin. It contributes to healthy nails, skin and hair, so it features in many cosmetic and health products for the skin and hair. It even supports maintaining mucous membranes and possibly helps prevent birth defects. However, it cannot be absorbed through hair or skin, so don’t be to fooled by product promises.
Sources & The Gut
The human body cannot create or synthesise biotin on its own. Only bacteria, molds, yeasts, algae, and certain plants can make it, so the diet needs to supply, and regularly at that. Hang on though, as it could be more a matter of feeding your symbiotic bacteria rather than cramming in biotin rich food.
Only small amounts of biotin are found in food sources such as brewer’s yeast, chicken, pork, egg yolks, leafy green vegetables, soybeans and bananas. There is however some good news as our clever native gut bacteria, or gut microbes/microbiome, are able to manufacture it, (phew!).
People who have taken a lot of antibiotics are also at risk of B7 deficiency, since antibiotics set off the equivalent to a nuclear explosion to your gut microbes that help generate it. If this is the case, seek to get lots of probiotic rich food such as anything fermented like sauerkraut, kimchi, komboocha or kefir.
These foods mentioned above should be sort regardless within your diet. Help to feed the new colonies probiotics bring by feeding them with plenty of prebiotic food also. I won’t go on to much but read more here about the importance of pre and pro biotic sources in your diet; http://whatsuppblogblog.com/2017/04/27/snack-hacks-5-prebiotics-vs-probiotics/
Fortunately, biotin deficiency is extremely rare. That said, as mentioned diabetics tend to have lower levels, and biotin supplements can be useful in managing glucose levels. Be aware that unused biotin is eliminated in urine and as the body does not build up reserves of B7, so to help generate it, support your gut health appropriately.
Right then. Thanks for reading! As ever, please give it a like and comment if you found the piece interesting or helpful in anyway! Till next time.