1. What Are Biotin Supplements?
It’s surprising that biotin and pantothenic acid—two members of the vitamin B family—don’t get more attention. Biotin (Vitamin H) and pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) work together at the most basic level to produce enzymes that trigger many bodily functions. Biotin promotes healthy hair and nails and helps the body use carbohydrates, fats and protein. Pantothenic acid appears to play a valuable role in how the body deals with stress; it promotes healthy function of the central nervous system, helps the body use carbohydrates, fats and protein. It also may reduce cholesterol and speed up wound healing.
Biotin is found in liver, soy products, nuts, oatmeal, rice, barley, legumes, cauliflower, egg yolks, milk and whole wheat. Organ meats, fish, poultry, whole grains, yogurt and legumes are the best sources of pantothenic acid.
These eight vitamins are a total waste of money—and could even be dangerous.
2. What Do Biotin Supplements Do?
Both biotin and pantothenic acid are involved in the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and protein from foods and in the production of enzymes. Biotin plays a special role in helping the body use glucose, its basic fuel and it promotes healthy nails and hair. The body needs pantothenic acid to maintain proper communication between the brain and nervous system and to produce certain stress hormones.
Biotin may improve the quality of weak and brittle fingernails and may help slow hair loss if you have biotin deficiency. It is often found in hair and skin-care products. Research suggests that the overproduction of stress hormones during long periods of emotional upset, depression or anxiety increases the need for pantothenic acid, which is used to manufacture these hormones.
According to a study from Switzerland, biotin can increase the thickness of nails by an average of 25 per cent. Six months of taking biotin supplements improved brittle nails in two-thirds of the study’s participants.
Biotin helps keep hair healthy, but—except in rare cases of biotin deficiency—it can’t prevent baldness, as some claim. Nor can pantothenic acid forestall the normal greying of hair that occurs with age.
3. What Are the Other Benefits of Biotin Supplements?
In high doses, biotin may help people with diabetes, increasing the body’s response to insulin so blood sugar (glucose) levels stay low. In addition, it may protect against the nerve damage that sometimes occurs in diabetes (called diabetic neuropathy). Pantothenic acid has been shown to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It is used to help treat inflammatory conditions such as asthma and dermatitis, to increase stamina and athletic performance and to enhance wound healing.