Biotin, also known as vitamin H or coenzyme R, is a water-soluble B-vitamin (vitamin B7) necessary for cell growth, fatty acid production and fat and amino acid metabolism. Biotin may also help to maintain a steady blood sugar level, and it is often recommended as a dietary supplement for strengthening hair and nails.
Biotin is particularly necessary for pregnant women, because insufficient dietary biotin can cause health problems for both the expecting mother and her infant. National health experts recommend a daily dose of 30 micrograms of biotin for pregnant and lactating women.
Biotin deficiency is rare, because the daily requirement for biotin is low (150-300 micrograms daily). Also, our intestinal bacteria make significant amounts of biotin. Not only that, but much of the body's biotin is recycled--in other words, biotin is repeatedly used before it is eventually lost from the body.
These are some easy ways to get biotin from your diet:
- Meat - liver, turkey and beef all contain biotin.
- Swiss chard - is an excellent biotin source. It's also a great way to get antioxidants and balance your diet.
- Carrots - contain biotin as well as beta-carotene, both of which are good for your eyes and overall health.
- Almonds, peanuts, almonds, cashew nuts, peanut butter, hazelnuts and walnuts - contain biotin as well as proteins and healthful omega-3 fats, which help to maintain healthy skin, hair and nails.
- Eggs - are an excellent source of biotin, although a diet unusually high in egg whites can actually lead to biotin deficiency. That's because a protein in egg whites called avidin binds to biotin and stops it from being absorbed into the body.
- Dairy products - along with providing calcium and protein, milk, buttermilk, cheese and yogurt are also great sources of biotin.
- Fruits - including bananas, strawberries and raspberries contain a lot of biotin, along with providing antioxidants and other health benefits.
- Seafood - In addition to being ‘brain food’, tuna, haddock, halibut, salmon, and sardine are excellent sources of biotin.
- Vegetables - onions, cucumbers spinach and cauliflower all contain biotin, and are a great way to fit this vitamin into meals.
Biotin deficiency is a rare nutritional disorder caused by over 100 different genetic defects in the enzyme biotinidase. This rarely happens in healthy people who consume a regular, healthy diet, unless they are being treated with certain drugs or antibiotics.
So if you want abundant hair and healthy nails, all you have to do is make biotin-rich foods part of your daily diet right away.
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