Vitamin B7, or biotin, is one of the body’s most important nutrients. It is involved with the metabolism of sugar and fat, and thus plays a huge role in the body’s production of energy and fatty acid synthesis. Biotin aids in the function of enzymes related to fat production, including the components of cellular membranes. It also contributes to the process that converts sugar to energy the body can use. Disrupting these processes has tremendous effects throughout the body, including the nervous system and skin. Skin cells are in perpetual need of rapid replacement, making them particular vulnerable to changes in cellular fat component production. The nervous system uses approximately twenty percent of the body’s glucose, so changes in energy production leave it particularly vulnerable.
Vitamin B7 Deficiency
There is minimal evidence related to biotin toxicity or any of its symptoms, if any. The tolerable upper limit for biotin is disputed. B vitamins are water soluble rather than fat soluble, so they do not accumulate in the body’s tissues. Excess quantities are flushed out of the system, which is why it may be possible for humans to accept much higher doses of B-vitamins than other types. Based on the available information, it seems that vitamin B7 toxicity is not a realistic risk for most people, and vitamin B7 deficiency is a far greater problem.
The most common symptoms of biotin deficiency, particularly in minor cases, are skin-related. Adults tend to experience seborrheic dermatitis and hair loss. Severely deficient adults may lose eyelashes and eyebrows and get dry, fragile fingernails. In the worst cases, adults can experience neurological problems, such as hallucinations, depression, lethargy, numbness, and tingling extremities. Children can experience even more severe symptoms as a result of biotin deficiency.
The people at the greatest risk of biotin deficiency include pregnant women, people with related genetic disorders, and people who eat poor diets. Alcoholics, drug-addicts, and people with eating disorders are all at risk of deficiencies in all B-complex vitamins. Supplementation is an efficient treatment for biotin deficiency, and most of the symptoms should go away after patients receive the right treatment. Anyone who suspects they may be experiencing deficiencies in biotin or related nutrients should consult their physicians or dieticians.
Swiss chard is one of the best natural sources of biotin. Other sources include liver, Saskatoon berries, peanuts, and egg yolks. Many people in the United States rely on supplements for their full daily dose of biotin, rather than getting it through dietary sources. Adults over the age of nineteen should get thirty micrograms per day. Lactating women should get thirty-five micrograms. Children, depending on their ages, should get between five and twenty-five.