- Vitamin H
- Coenzyme R
- W Factor
For Patients & Caregivers
Biotin may help strengthen brittle nails and improve peripheral neuropathy in diabetics.
Biotin is an important coenzyme involved in carbohydrate (sugar) and lipid (fat) metabolism. It is made in the intestines and is found in a variety of foods. Consuming large amounts of egg whites or taking anticonvulsant (antiepileptic) drugs may lead to biotin deficiency, although this is rare. Patients with diabetes may have a greater chance of being biotin deficient. However, supplementation may weaken the activity of interleukins and interferons, and reduce the number of white blood cells.
- To treat diabetic peripheral neuropathy
A small clinical study supports this claim. Larger studies are needed to confirm the effects.
- To treat brittle nails
A small survey indicates that biotin may be effective. Further studies are needed.
- To treat infantile seborrheic dermatitis (a skin disorder prevalent in the oily areas of the skin, resulting in itchy, scaly skin)
A small randomized trial showed that biotin is no more effective than placebo in treating seborrheic dermatitis in infants.
For Healthcare Professionals
An important coenzyme in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, biotin has been claimed to treat brittle finger nails, acne, seborrhoeic dermatitis, hair fragility, and alopecia. Infants who died from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) were found to have significantly lower levels of biotin in their livers; however, evidence that biotin deficiency contributes to SIDS is lacking (1). Deficiency of biotinidase, an enzyme that converts biotin into its active form, has been implicated in myelopathy (13), epileptic encephalopathy (14), and spastic tetraparesis (15) in children.
A small randomized controlled trial showed that biotin was no more effective than placebo in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis in infants (2).
Biotin supplementation may be effective in strengthening brittle nails (3). Preliminary data also suggest that biotin may have beneficial effects in patients with severe diabetic peripheral neuropathy (4), and when combined with chromium, it may be effective as an adjunct therapy to improve glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes (5).
Biotin is an essential part of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism via transporting carboxyl units and fixing carbon dioxide. It is commonly found in a wide variety of foods. Biotin is converted into the active form by an enzyme, biotinidase. It is also synthesized in the intestine by bacteria. Patients who are deficient in biotinidase or those with malabsorption syndromes may develop biotin deficiency. Although biotin deficiency is rare, symptoms include anorexia, nausea, vomiting, dermatitis, somnolence, seizures, ataxia, and increase in serum cholesterol levels and bile pigments (1).
Biotin may also be deficient, inactive, or unavailable in patients with diabetes. Therefore, it is suggested that biotin supplementation may be effective against diabetic peripheral neuropathy (4); biotin induces microtubule formation in neurons (7), and biotin deficiency slows myelination (8).
However, biotin supplementation may reduce the activity of interleukins and interferons, and reduce the number of leukocytes (9).
- Free Thyroxine (FT4): There is a report of a false high FT4 in an assay by the Boehringer Mannheim ES 700 analyzer attributed to high serum biotin levels in a neonate (12).
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH): There is also a report of a false low TSH in an assay by the Boehringer Mannheim ES 700 analyzer attributed to high serum biotin levels in a neonate (12).