Biotin
Biotin_Structure.jpg

Biotin, it may sound like something from a comic book or Transformers movie, but is it as alien as it sounds? My partner and I have done our best to compile the facts so that the next time you are standing in the grocery store, staring blankly at the ingredients list on the packaging of one of your favorite snacks maybe there will be one less unpronounceable constituent. 
Optimus.jpg
Alien-Monster-Metal or What?
Just by looking at the name many people might think “scientifically-engineered-monster-metal-in-my food!” and so did I at first. Why would anything remotely natural or healthy have a name like that!? So I am sure you can imagine my surprise when I dutifully googled the name and up popped dozens of articles entitling it a “water-soluble vitamin that is generally classified as a B-complex” (1). Even more was my surprise at gaining the knowledge that Biotin is a natural vitamin! In fact although it took scientists nearly 40 years of experimenting to be able to call it a vitamin at all, it is now known that biotin is something all organisms need to be healthy. Researchers have found ways to synthesize it by using particular plants, algae, bacterias and even some molds and yeasts. To create Biotin you need 5 different enzymes, each has a different job whether it be binding or forming necessary compounds.

So When Am I Actually Eating this Stuff?

Funnily enough practically most people in the world consume numerous products containing Biotin each day. Some of the most common things you would find this vitamin in are egg yolks, breads, cereals, cereal bars, yogurts, cheese, cauliflower and even meats like chicken and salmon (2). In fact this morning alone I am sure that both my nutella crepe and cheese stick contained Biotin!


Is Biotin Even Something That Is Good For Me?

Actually Biotin is a very healthy and important thing to have in your diet. Recently studies have shown that adding more Biotin into your diet can help combat problems like hair loss and brittle fingernails (2). Although it is rather rare Biotin deficiency issues have been reported. One of the first places doctors began to see signs of this was in hospital wards where patients were being fed intravenously. The symptoms were hair loss and scaly red rashes around the eyes, nose and mouth (1).

What are Biotin’s properties?

Biotin is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin. It appears in its purest form as a white crystal. (5) It helps to perform several important processes within the human body. Biotin breaks down amino and fatty acids, helps in the process of fatty acid synthesis, and helps to make glucose. (3)



Eggs123.jpg


Can I be Biotin deficient?

Biotin deficiency is an uncommon condition, but one that can cause several identifiable symptoms. These include brittle hair and fingernails, nausea, changes in mood and achy muscles. This condition is most common in people who take antibiotics for a long time, as well as those uninformed health-fanatics who avoid anything with an ingredient they don’t recognize. (3) Also, those who eat large amount o raw egg whites should be careful for biotin deficiency, as this can affect how biotin is absorbed. (4) Otherwise, it is unlikely that most people will experience this deficiency, because only a small amount of biotin is needed in the body. (5)

dry-skin-400x400.jpg


Where does the name “Biotin” come from?

The name “biotin” comes from the Greek word “biotos”, meaning life or sustenance, with the chemical suffix “in” added to the end. This name makes sense, as biotin is something found in all living organisms, from apples to zebras. It is also essential for healthy life in humans and other organisms. (1) So, despite its name, biotin is a naturally occurring vitamin that is actually good for us, and has nothing to do with Aliens or Monsters.
Biotin, it may sound like something from a comic book or Transformers movie, but is it as alien as it sounds? My partner and I have done our best to compile the facts so that the next time you are standing in the grocery store, staring blankly at the ingredients list on the packaging of one of your favorite snacks maybe there will be one less unpronounceable constituent.






Works Cited
1. Higdon, Jane. "Biotin." Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. June 2004. Web. 05 Nov. 2010. <http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/biotin/>.
2."Biotin - Food Sources, Supplements, Facts, Research." Chiff.com - Your Guide to the Best Sites on the Web. Chiff.com. Web. 08 Nov. 2010. <http://www.chiff.com/vitamins/biotin.htm>.
3. "Biotin: Benefits and Information." Reviews Of Vitamins, Minerals, and Phytonutrient Supplements. Web. 07 Nov. 2010. <http://vitamins.ultimatefatburner.com/biotin-review.html>.
4. "Biotin." Internet Health Library. 26 Oct. 2006. Web. 07 Nov. 2010. <http://www.internethealthlibrary.com/DietandNutrition/Biotin.htm>.
5. "Biotin, Biotin Etymology Definition | Etymology Dictionary at Dictionary.com." Dictionary.com | Find the Meanings and Definitions of Words at Dictionary.com. Web. 08 Nov. 2010. <http://dictionary.reference.com/etymology/biotin>.