IMPORTANT: The information on this site should never be used to self medicate or to self diagnose. Always contact your health care provider before using any kind of supplementation or making any extreme change in diet.
“Ahhh, uhhhh, ohhh, noooo. Damn that hurts. First the climb, then the walk, then the running, then the bike ride, then the lifting and pulling.”
Every muscle screamed in protest as Bart tried to rise off the bed.
“Why?” he asked himself. “Why did I try to keep up with Arnold or maybe I should ask myself, why am I not in better shape? How stupid could I have been to make a bet with a triathlete. I thought I was in good shape but not so much, apparently.”
Three days later Bart was feeling better, a little more supple. His muscles had begun to loosen up. He had decided that, although he didn’t want to become a triathlete he did want to stay in the best shape he could. Plans were made; research was done and clubs were joined.
At the fitness club on his first day he was introduced to a trainer who put him through a workout suited to his stage in the ‘getting fit’ process. It wasn’t so bad!
Bart was also introduced to the clubs nutritionist. The nutritionist explained to him how important certain nutrients were to his physical development and more specifically his muscular development.
It turns out that the protein leucine is central to the creation of muscle proteins and that vitamin B7 or biotin is central to the metabolizing of leucine.
WHAT IS BIOTIN ?
Vitamin B7 or Biotin also called vitamin H is a water soluble vitamin.
There are two major areas that biotin is involved with in human biology.
1. Biotin is used by four enzymes called carboxylases. Each one of these carboxylases is used for a specific action in our bodies. Each carboxylase lowers the flood gates for an essential reaction to take place in our metabolism or in biological terminology it ‘catalyzes’ these reactions. The attachment of a biotin molecule to another molecule is called biotinylation.
The four carboxylases or enzymes are:
- Acetyl-CoA carboxylase
- Pyruvate carboxylase
- Methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase
- Propionyl-CoA carboxylase
2. The second area in which biotin plays an important role is in its attachment to a protein molecule called histone.
WHAT DOES BIOTIN DO FOR US ?
1. Carboxyle enzymes:
– The first one, Acetyl-CoA carboxylase, starts the process for creating fatty acids. Most of us want beautiful shiny hair and strong healthy fingernails. Biotin is involved in the creation of fatty acids. One group of fatty acids called phospholipids is a necessary part of the structure of cell membranes including those which make up our hair and nails.
– The second one, Pyruvate carboxylase is critical for the process called gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is the process which creates glucose out of fats and amino acids to use for energy when the body can’t get it from carbohydrates. Those low or no carb diets we’ve all heard about or perhaps have tried, start the process of gluconeogenesis. The fat stores in our bodies and unfortunately some of the proteins we eat are used for energy instead of the carbohydrates we would ordinarily consume.
– The third one, Methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase is used in the creation of energy from the essential amino acid leucine. This is the amino acid our friend Bart (above) was so into getting enough of.
– The fourth and final one, Propionyl-CoA carboxylase (an enzyme) converts the molecule propionyl-CoA (which is not an enzyme) into another molecule called methylmalonyl-CoA. Methylmalonyl-CoA is then used to breakdown the amino acids (protein building blocks) isoleucine, methionine, threonine, and valine and it also breaks down cholesterol and certain fatty acids into other molecules that are used by our bodies for energy.
2. Biotinylation of Histone:
Histone molecules attach themselves to DNA and package it in neat little packages to form the building blocks (nucleosomes) for our chromosomes. The attachment of a biotin molecule or biotinylation to a histone molecule allows these packages to relax enough so that the DNA information can be copied and replicated. It also regulates the proliferation of cells and other cell functions. This is why it is so important for pregnant mothers to get enough biotin.
Whew! Are you still with me. It’s a lot to digest, so to speak, but putting it simply: without biotin none of these reactions and actions will be enabled. Unless you’re a biology major or really, really want to impress your friends it’s enough to know that biotin is very important for keeping our cells healthy, our DNA replicated and our energy levels up.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DON’T GET ENOUGH BIOTIN ?
Intestinal bacteria usually produce an excess of the body’s daily requirement of biotin so deficiency is very rare.
It occurs most often in cases of starvation, severe alcoholism and advanced intestinal disease causing malabsorption. Additional care to acquire sufficient biotin may be needed:
1. When using anti-convulsant medications.
2. When pregnant, as the fetus has a special need for biotin to help in cell division and growth. Infants and embryos are especially sensitive to biotin deficiency.
3. If for some bizarre reason you consume large numbers of raw egg whites over a prolonged period of time. The protein avidin in egg whites binds biotin but when it is cooked it is deactivated and does not pose a threat.
If there is a deficiency then the symptoms are comparable to those found in other Vitamin B deficiencies – scaly red rash around the bodies orifices, depression, lethargy, hallucination and numbness and tingling in the extremities. The biotin-deficient face is one with unusual facial fat distribution. Hair loss and conjunctivitis are also symptoms of biotin deficiency.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE GET TOO MUCH BIOTIN ?
There does not appear to be an upper limit to biotin ingestion and it is not known to be toxic.
WHERE DO WE GET BIOTIN ?
The recommended daily allowance is 30 micrograms or as it’s written in science speak 30µg per day.
Biotin is often recommended for the strengthening of hair and nails so some cosmetic companies include it in their hair and skin products. What they neglect to tell you is that biotin cannot be absorbed through either hair or skin.
Linus Pauling Institute
U.S. Government Health Department