Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, part of the vitamin B-complex, is produced in the intestinal tract by bacteria that break down food, particularly fatty acids and carbohydrates, converting them to energy. Our bodies do not need much biotin to function optimally, however, a lack of this vitamin will lead to symptoms of deficiency. There are certain causes of biotin deficiency: 1) taking antibiotics that kill the vitamin-producing bacteria, 2) eating too much egg white which contains avidin that binds biotin, 3) chronic dieting, leading to a deficiency, and 4) lack of biotin-producing intestinal bacteria in infants. Biotin deficiency, however, manifests in various forms. With a biotin deficiency, symptoms can start slowly, accumulating over time.
The 6 Key Indications Of A Biotin Deficiency
Biotin deficiency can manifest in various ways, namely:
- Blood Health
Minor anemia may develop if there is a lack of biotin. Anemia is a condition in which hemoglobin (oxygen-carrying cells) stops binding to oxygen. This can lead to symptoms such as concentration problems, struggling to breathe, and fatigue, to name a few.
- Eye Health
A deficiency could manifest itself through the eye disorder keratoconjunctivitis. In this condition, the membrane across the eyeball, including the cornea, and under the eyelids becomes dry. This inflammation usually leads to redness, swelling and pain.
- Brain Health
A deficiency could also lead to neurological disorders such as paresthesia and hyperesthesia. Paresthesia is the experiencing of nerve pain, with a prickling sensation, numbness, or pain. This condition can develop on its own or in conjunction with kidney disease, or the development of diabetes. The other condition, hyperesthesia, is an over-sensitive reaction to sound, or smell, with extreme nerve pain. Inflammation occurs in the nerves, sometimes resulting in a seizure.
- Heart Health
A deficiency in biotin can also present as irregular electrical activity of the heartbeat, which could lead to heart failure. At each heartbeat, blood is pumped from the heart. If the electrocardiographic activity of the heart is affected, the heart may become overworked, or it may compensate by enlarging.
A psychological symptom of biotin deficiency is anorexia nervosa. This condition manifests as low appetite. Adult sufferers may experience depression, fatigue, and even hallucinations. In children, physical growth and brain development may be impeded.
- Skin Health
Dermatitis is one of the most common symptoms of biotin deficiency. Dermatitis is characterized by itchiness, scaly rash, and red skin, mostly on the face and scalp (or elsewhere), and there may be some hair loss, leading to balding. For children, an added symptom could be muscle pain. Taking a supplement, or changing your diet will correct this.
The Bottom Line
Biotin deficiency is relatively uncommon, however, certain illnesses, or medication, such as antibiotics, can lead to this deficiency. People with weak immune systems are at higher risk. There are various symptoms that will then gradually appear. Should any of the above-mentioned symptoms appear, a doctor should be consulted. Ideally, a balanced diet should be followed; however, supplements may be indicated in ensuring the daily intake of 30 micrograms for adults. Although a deficiency is undesirable, too high a dose is also not ideal, there being certain dangers involved. Good sources of biotin are yeast, sardines, nuts, eggs, bananas, cauliflower, and mushrooms.