Think supplemental biotin will improve your hair and nail problems? You may want to think again.
At this time, there is no conclusive research that biotin improves hair and nail quality, says Consumerlabs.com. The evidence, they say, is very weak, in fact “too weak” to be relied upon, when it comes to using biotin to treat brittle nails, cradle cap in infants, and even to improve blood sugar in diabetics.
Furthermore, a 2010 review of hair loss and micro-nutrient deficiencies, illuminated how little we know about how exactly nutrient deficiencies relate to hair quality. The authors state, “Studies are required to determine the incidence of marginal zinc, selenium, iron or biotin deficiencies that could manifest as hairloss.”
So what exactly does biotin do for your body anyway?
Like most of the other B vitamins, biotin helps the body break down carbohydrates into energy. It also assists in fat and protein metabolism. Interestingly, bacteria found in the large and small intestine can synthesize biotin, but exactly how the body uses the resulting biotin is used is still unknown. This does, however, make another good anecdotal case for nurturing good gut health through probiotic foods, as doing so may assist in nutrient bio-availability to the body.
Biotin deficiency is rare, but in extreme cases can cause a scaly rash around the mouth and other mucus membranes. Want to create a biotin deficiency while still consuming biotin rich foods? Eating raw egg whites daily can interfere with the body’s ability to use biotin, potentially resulting in deficiency. Cooking your egg whites, however, will prevent this from happening. Furthermore, those taking anti-convulsant medications, pregnant women, and those with liver disease may require extra biotin, but exactly how much is unclear. The current advice is typically to supplement just in case, especially for pregnant women, without any analysis of long term effects on the fetus or the mother. Shouldn’t the advice be to increase consumption of biotin containing foods instead? Especially when the balance of B-vitamins and B vitamin synthesis in the body might be easily disrupted by too much or too little of other concentrated vitamins. For example, large doses of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) have the potential to compete with biotin for intestinal and cellular uptake due to their similar structures, but you don’t see that warning on your prenatal vitamin do you?
Also of interest is recent research on rats fed the ketogenic diet. The rats appeared to develop a biotin deficiency while on it. With the increased popularity of the ketogenic diet and its use for treatment of seizure disorders, among other things, biotin supplementation may be warranted. But, actual amounts, human studies, and conclusive evidence are lacking. Those consuming the keto diet may consider asking their doctor for a blood test to monitor their micro-nutrient levels, or consider incorporating biotin rich foods rather than supplementing with biotin.
Biotin containing foods
Foods rich in biotin include tuna, turkey, avocados, mushrooms, and salmon.
Because salmon is such a super food, I decided to feature it as this week’s recipe. Having recently signed up for the produce delivery service, Farm Fresh To You, I received Shishito peppers in my weekly delivery. I have never cooked with Shishito peppers before, but absolutely LOVE how they pair with salmon and brown rice. Simple! Easy! Nutritional powerhouses! And absolutely delicious. That’s one reason I choose the traditional box Farm Fresh To You offers, because doing so forces me to think outside of the box with each new, interesting fruit or vegetable I receive. Here’s my recipe for this simple, kick butt dinner of Salmon, Brown Rice, and Shishito peppers, one that will meet approximately 40% of your biotin needs for one day. Just add a salad with avocado and you’ve almost met your entire daily biotin requirements!
- 3 pieces of salmon
- 1 cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tbs sesame oil
- 2 tbs garlic
- SHISHITO PEPPERS
- 2 cups Shishito Peppers
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tbs butter
- 1 tbs garlic
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- Juice from ½ lemon
- Salmon: Mix all ingredient together, pour on salmon, allow to marinate refrigerated for up to 8 hours. Grill salmon for 4 minutes on high each side.
- Shishito Peppers: Heat olive oil and butter on medium until combine. Add peppers and all other ingredients. Saute for 12 minutes until desired consistency is reached.