Hailing from the Greek word ‘biotos’ meaning life, biotin is a vitamin B complex that converts food into energy. Biotin is often found in enzymes that break down nutrients like fats, carbohydrates, and others. Biotin deficiency often causes a number of problems such as rashes of the skin and hair loss. However, these problems can be reversed! Biotin rich foods can do wonders for you. These include eggs, milk, and bananas. Let us explore more about biotin, the foods that contain it, and symptoms of its deficiency.
Why is Biotin Important?
Biotin is needed by the body to regulate the epigenetics of the genes and improve the health of cells. Some of the other benefits of consuming biotin rich foods can be felt in:
- Hair: Consumption of foods high in biotin has shown to improve the quality and strength of hair and reduce hair fall. Many products that strengthen the hair contain biotin.
- Nervous System: Studies show that biotin improves recovery of the nerves from damage caused by conditions like multiple sclerosis.
- Digestion: Biotin breaks down the food we eat and also activates folic acid, enabling production of new red blood cells. Biotin plays an important role in improving digestion.
- Pregnancy: Biotin is important for lactating or pregnant women, as pregnancy causes low levels of biotin. This is because the body breaks down biotin faster during this period.
Signs of Biotin Deficiency
There is no specific test to check for biotin levels. Hence, a deficiency is usually identified by symptoms. Some of these symptoms are:
- Unexplained hair loss
- Rashes around the eyes, nose, and mouth
- Hand and feet numbness
Some studies also show that certain conditions like diabetes cause biotin deficiency.
Biotin Rich Foods
Biotin is important for eye, hair, skin, and brain function. Some studies show that it also improves liver function. Biotin is a water soluble vitamin, which means that it is not stored by the body. To maintain adequate levels of biotin, it has to be consumed regularly. Studies suggest that people need approximately 30 mcg biotin a day. Foods high in biotin are:
- Legumes: Peas, beans, and lentils are high in fiber, protein, and essential micronutrients. Some legumes like peanuts and soya beans, have the highest source of biotin. One serving of peanuts contains approximately 5 mcg of biotin. As legumes are a part of the staple Indian diet, they are some of the best biotin rich foods for vegetarians.
- Egg Yolks: While eggs are packed with vitamin B, iron, phosphorus, and protein, the yolk is an excellent source of biotin. An entire cooked egg contains approximately 10 mcg of biotin. Eggs should be fully cooked to not only reduce food poisoning but to also stimulate biotin absorption. Avoid having raw eggs as egg whites contain avidin, a protein that inhibits biotin absorption. A rich source of biotin, eggs can be used to make muffins, waffles, or even eaten scrambled or hard boiled.
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms are a type of fungi that contain many essential nutrients, including biotin. One cup of fresh mushrooms contains about 5.6 mcg of biotin. Mushrooms can be eaten in various ways – either pastas, noodles, pizzas, or even stuffed and sauteed.
- Bananas: An extremely popular fruit, bananas are full of carbohydrates, fiber, and other micronutrients like copper, vitamin B, and potassium. Bananas are usually eaten as a fruit but can also be added to smoothies or ice creams.
- Whole Grains: Whole grains, such as oats and barley, are a source of biotin. One cup of cooked oats contains about 0.5 micrograms of biotin.
A water soluble vitamin, biotin has to be consumed regularly to maintain adequate levels in the body. A biotin deficiency is rare and can be avoided by consuming biotin rich foods like liver, eggs, milk, banana, legumes, and mushrooms. There are biotin supplements available as well that boost the levels of this essential vitamin.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Are there any side effects of biotin?
Ans. No, consumption of foods rich in biotin does not cause any side effects, and are completely safe to consume. Even if you consume supplements to maintain biotin levels, you will not experience side effects. In case of side effects, please contact a healthcare professional.
Q2. Can I eat egg whites to boost biotin?
Ans. The egg yolk contains biotin, and eggs should be consumed in their cooked state. In fact, studies show that regular consumption of egg whites can cause biotin deficiency as it contains a protein called avidin which reduces absorption of biotin.
Q3. How much biotin do I need daily?
Ans. The amount of biotin required depends on the age. Adults over 19 years require about 30 mcg of biotin a day. Lactating and pregnant women require more, approximately 35 mcg in a day.