April 2, 2018
Biotin: also known as vitamin B7, is an essential nutrient for the expression of genes as well as as a cofactor in some enzymatic reactions discussed over the past few weeks with regard to fat, sugar and protein biosynthesis and degradation.
It is a water soluble vitamin that is used to produce a group of carboxylase enzymes.
These enzymes are utilized throughout the cycles of fat oxidation, protein and carbohydrate degradation and biosynthesis. As opposed to the previously discussed B vitamins that are direct cofactors, B7 is an indirect need for these reactions.
We need B7 in a reaction called biotinylation. This is when our DNA is compacted around histone proteins to protect it from damage as well as shield it from expressing hidden genes.
Biotin deficiency is not common. It presents with hair loss and a facial rash characterized by red scaly bumps on the forehead, nose and cheeks and genitals. Neurologically, depression, mood dys-regulation, numbness/tingling of extremities, difficulty walking and seizures develop.
Babies born with genetic defects in biotin metabolism present with similar rash patterns and progress rapidly to neurologic and immune dysfunction with devastating consequences. Multiple carboxylase deficiency is the most devastating type with more minor variants occurring in other enzymes like biotinidase. In the United States, all children are screened for these defects at birth. This is a blessing as the treatment with biotin can change the outcome dramatically.
Insufficiency is not of great concern in our population. Current literature is showing that inadequate levels of B7 will cause mood problems, hair loss/thinning, dermatitis and increased infectious disease risk to fungal and bacterial species.
B7 shows promise in the treatment of multiple sclerosis and diabetes mellitus.
Keeping B7 and all B vitamin levels adequate should be a first line therapy coupled with a sleep regimen for anyone with mood issues.
In adult and child populations, there are no known serious side effects of excessive B7 intake.
Food sources of B7 are peanuts, swiss chard, liver, egg yolks, yeast, pork, avocado, salmon, cauliflower, raspberries and fortified foods. The US government has been fortifying breads and cereals for years as an added source.
Our gut bugs can synthesize biotin. Dysbiosis or abnormal gut bacterial flora can adversely affect the natural endogenous production of biotin and put you at risk for insufficiency. Consuming raw eggs repeatedly can affect biotin levels negatively.
Most adults need 30 mcg/day. Incrementally less for kids. This nutrient is easily obtained from a anti inflammatory diet. Pregnancy and infancy are times of increased B vitamin needs.
People at risk for insufficiency or deficiency have: alcoholism, intestinal dysbiosis, inflammatory bowel disease, eating disorders, celiac disease or take the following drugs: anti seizure drugs. Smoking continuously is a risk factor as it increases the catabolism of B7.
*With many of these micronutrients, you will see a pattern that the brain, gut and skin are often affected. These highly metabolic and rapid cell turnover organs are most susceptible to insufficiency states that occur with a modern human processed, government subsidized diet that promotes gut dysfunction, malabsorption and inflammation.