Biotin is a water-soluble, B-complex vitamin. It's found in all living cells and is essential for cellular metabolism. Biotin is also known as vitamin H, coenzyme R, and vitamin B7. Confusingly, it is also sometimes called vitamin B8, but this is unofficial and relatively uncommon (B8 more often refers to inositol).
Biotin is used by all living creatures-plants, animals, and even single-celled organisms. In animals, biotin is essential for metabolizing proteins and converting sugar into usable energy. It's necessary for hormone production and helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Biotin promotes healthy hair, skin, and nails.
Mammals, including humans, cannot synthesize biotin and must obtain it from dietary sources. Biotin deficiency is rare but dangerous. The vitamin is crucial for normal fetal development and a deficiency during pregnancy can result in birth defects. Symptoms of biotin deficiency include brittle nails, hair loss, muscle pain, nausea, fatigue, anemia, and dry skin.
Not all sources of biotin are equal: There are two forms of biotin found in living cells: free and protein-bound. The latter is just what it sounds like-biotin bound to protein. It's mostly found in bacteria and animal cells. Free biotin, which is not bound to a protein, is more common in plants.
The human body can use both forms of biotin, but free biotin is more immediately bioavailable. With protein-bound biotin, your body must break the bond to convert biotin into a form it can use. Free-biotin doesn't require this step-it's easily absorbed and utilized in the body. Due to their high free biotin content, plant-based foods are generally better dietary sources of the vitamin than animal-based foods.
Protein-bound biotin sources: Many foods contain some biotin, but the concentration in most is negligible from a nutritional standpoint. Other foods have a very high biotin content. Organ meats, like kidneys and liver, are the most concentrated dietary source. Milk, dairy products, and seafood are other rich, animal-derived sources. Although egg yolks have a high concentration of biotin, they also contain a chemical that interferes with biotin absorption. A diet high in egg whites can actually lead to biotin deficiency.
At Global Healing Center, we strongly recommend a raw, vegan diet, however, we understand that not everyone will choose this lifestyle. If you must consume animal products, at least opt for organic whenever possible. This can mitigate, though not eliminate, some of the many health risks associated with the consumption of meat and dairy.
Plant-based biotin foods: Although many types of animal-sourced food contain biotin, it's protein-bound biotin. Plants contain free biotin, which is more bioavailable. This means that getting enough biotin from a vegan diet is achievable. Considering the multitude of other health benefits associated with a plant-based diet, it's also the healthiest choice.
As we've only recently begun to understand the importance of biotin, nutritional experts are still refining accurate methods for measuring biotin concentration in food. As such, estimates of biotin content vary greatly for some foods and are completely lacking for many others. After exhaustive research, we've compiled this list of the best biotin foods.
Nuts: Although biotin concentration varies by the type of nut, nuts, in general, are one of the best dietary sources of free biotin. One hundred grams of pecans contains about 28 micrograms (mcg) of biotin; the same amount of peanuts or walnuts contains almost 37 mcg. Nuts are also a great source of energy, omega fatty acids, and other heart-healthy nutrients.
Sunflower seeds: Heart-healthy, high in magnesium, and rich in antioxidants, a handful of sunflower seeds makes a great snack. They're also an excellent source of biotin. One hundred grams of sunflower seeds contains 66 mcg of the vitamin.
Cauliflower: As a cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower is great for detoxing the liver and it's loaded with healthy nutrients, one of which is biotin. A single serving of cauliflower offers 5% of your daily biotin requirement. Cauliflower is also high in vitamin C and many other health-promoting compounds. Not only is it great as a raw snack, but there are also many cauliflower recipes you can enjoy.
Bananas: Generally speaking, most types of fruit are not a very good source of biotin. Bananas are an exception. One, average-sized, peeled banana (about 100 grams) contains 1.18 mcg of biotin. Bananas are also a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, C, and B6.
Cereals: Many cereal grains are a good source of biotin. Rice bran has a particularly high concentration, 66 mcg per 100 grams. Barley and oatmeal offer 31 and 24 mcg, respectively. Other good sources of biotin: There are many other good sources of biotin. Carrots, leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, raspberries, and mushrooms can all contribute significantly to your daily biotin intake. Yeast also has an incredibly high biotin content, as do yeast-derived products like whole-grain bread.
The writer is a professional researcher and nutritionist. Founder and CEO of Global Healing Center.The write-up has also appeared on www.globalhealingcenter.com
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