If you’re checking out the back of a B-complex vitamin, you might see the following list: Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, B12, B5, and … Vitamin H. Vitamin H? That might seem a bit odd, considering. But Vitamin H is actually vitamin B7 by another name. And it’s also more commonly known as biotin, an ingredient you have probably seen on a number of hair care products and skin creams. And just as a rose by any other name is just as sweet, vitamin B7 by another other name is just as good for you.
Biotin, like the other B vitamins, helps your body convert the food you eat into the fuel which you need to feel energized and carry out metabolic processes. Biotin is a necessary ingredient for the proper digestion of fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, so biotin helps your body to manufacture protein as needed. Your body does not retain vitamin H, so you have to take it in regularly through your diet to stay healthy.
When people think “protein,” they typically think about bodybuilding. But it isn’t just your muscles which are made out of protein. Protein is a major component of your hair, skin, and nails. When you get plenty of vitamin H in your diet, you are giving your body what it needs to digest the building blocks of proteins and to manufacture protein more efficiently. The result is healthier, stronger body tissues, inside and out.
What happens when you have a biotin deficiency?
According to the Universal of Maryland Medical Center, vitamin H deficiency is relatively rare. The symptoms will show in your hair and skin. If you do not have enough vitamin H in your diet, you may notice hair loss, dry, scaly skin, and cracking at the corners of your mouth. Other unpleasant symptoms include insomnia, depression, dry eyes, and fatigue. You are only likely to have a vitamin H deficiency if you have been on certain medications a long time or you have a digestive ailment like Chron’s disease that makes it hard for your body to absorb nutrients.
Because biotin deficiency shows immediately in poor hair and skin health, you can see how essential it is to both! You do not need to have an actual nutritional deficiency to benefit from more vitamin H. Right now, you probably still have problems with dry skin or hair—problems that biotin can help resolve. Most of us could use some extra vitamin H in our diets.
What are some natural food sources for biotin?
- Egg yolk
- Whole wheat bread
As you can see, many foods contain biotin, which is great news! If you cook cauliflower, you will cook the vitamin H right out of it, so make sure you eat it raw for the B7 benefit. Also note that egg yolk contains biotin, not egg white. Egg white actually makes it harder for your body to effectively absorb biotin, because it contains a compound which binds B7 in the intestine, making it unavailable. So if you are one of those people who eats egg whites instead of the whole egg, consider eating the yolks! Otherwise, you are a prime candidate to benefit from a multivitamin which contains biotin for healthy skin and hair.
Health and Beauty Benefits of Biotin
There are not as many studies on biotin as there are on other B vitamins, so scientists’ knowledge of vitamin H is not as comprehensive as it is for the rest. Preliminary evidence from research does suggest that vitamin H is great for hair and nails, most likely because it is helpful to your body when it comes to building protein. According to Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (NDNR), biotin is a nutrient which elderly people are often deficient in, which may be one of the causes of aging hair and skin. Taking biotin can help to preserve skin and hair.
- Taking vitamin H helps your body produce protein for collagen. Collagen is the connective tissue which makes your skin elastic. Elasticity in turn keeps skin from forming wrinkles or sagging. When you are young, your body produces more collagen than it does when you get older. One of the reason is probably a growing deficiency in important B vitamins like biotin. By taking more biotin, you can boost collagen production and keep your skin smooth, soft, elastic, and youthful.
- Since vitamin H helps your body create protein from amino acid chains, biotin can also strengthen your nails. Take biotin for brittle nails and watch as they get stronger and resistant to breakage.
- Biotin can work wonders for your hair, which has made it one of the most popular ingredients to include in hair products. If your hair, like your nails, is dry and breaks easily, it may be because you need some extra vitamin H. Keratin, the key structural component of your hair, is made out of protein. Biotin can help your body produce keratin, strengthening your hair. The result is soft, satiny, shining locks which resist breakage and grow long and healthy. If you are dealing with thinning hair, you may find that vitamin H can also help you to fill in the gaps and shed less often.
How do you ensure you are getting enough vitamin H? Remember to eat whole eggs and not just egg whites, and enjoy your cauliflower raw once in a while. Eat plenty of the other foods on the list, and add a B-complex multivitamin that lists vitamin H (or B7, or biotin). You may also want to try a healthy vitamin for hair and skin like Vibrance Vitamins for Hair Growth. Vibrance contains B complex with biotin, zinc, and other healthy nutrients. According to the National Institute of Health, preliminary research has indicated that vitamin H with zinc may be particularly effective in treating hair loss!