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Vitamin H or (B7) is a vitamin that is rarely discussed.  It is also known as “biotin” or “coenzyme R”.  It is rare to be deficient in this vitamin, but it plays an important role in hair and skin health.

Studies have shown that people who only consume egg whites over a long period of time may suffer from dry skin and thinning hair.  Raw eggs have a protein call Avidin that binds to biotin.  When the egg white is cooked, the protein dissolves and is no longer available to be absorbed in the body.  Biotin is not only important for hair and skin; it helps the nervous and musculature systems function properly.

How does Biotin work?

Biotin is an enzyme that helps to break down fats and carbohydrates to covert fuel into energy.  If there is a deficiency, it could upset the fatty acid balance in the skin.  Instead of our skin cells dying off and replacing themselves, skin cells can become thick, impacted and cause dry skin.  The skin is our largest organ and it needs the fatty acid to act as a protective barrier from the environment and bacteria.  Shedding of dead skin cells helps the body to take in oxygen and makes the skin look vibrant.

Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency

  • Red, scaly rash around the nose, mouth and eyes;
  • Thinning hair and hair that grays early;
  • Possible depression and fatigue;
  • Tingling sensation in arms and legs;
  • Muscle cramps;
  • Possible high cholesterol and high blood pressure; and
  • Cradle cap or seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp (Aguirre, 2012)

Natural Sources of Biotin

Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that is not stored in fatty tissue so it must be supplemented from outside sources.  Dietary sources are: egg yolks, peanuts, liver, bananas, mushrooms, cauliflower, watermelon, legumes, Swiss chard and brewer’s yeast.  Because a deficiency is rare, a recommended daily allowance has not been established.  Pregnant women, individuals who suffer from intestinal problems and long-term users of antibiotics may require more.

Reference

Aguirre, C. (2012, October). Foundations: Vitamin H. Dermascope, pp. 61-62.

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