Biotin, also known as vitamin B7 and vitamin H, is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that it can’t be stored in the body. A part of the B-complex group of vitamins, biotin is involved in the conversion of food to energy and is essential for good health. Biotin also plays a vital role in the early development of embryos and is a necessary nutrient for expecting mothers.
Its alternate name, Vitamin H, comes from the German words Haut and Haar, meaning “skin” and “hair” respectively. Deficiencies in biotin are associated with hair loss and skin rashes around the eyes, nose and mouth. Because of this association, biotin is popularly found in cosmetic products for hair and skin.
Other symptoms of biotin deficiency include:
Low biotin levels can occur for a number of reasons, including unbalanced diet, rapid weight loss, pregnancy, and cigarette smoking.
Found in a variety of foods, the highest concentrations of biotin can be found in the following:
Note that vitamin levels are believed to be higher in fresh and unprocessed food compared to canned food.
Biotin is also found in brewer’s yeast, the same kind used in the production of beer. Unfortunately for beer drinkers though, the alcohol in beer decreases the absorption, making it a poor dietary source of biotin.