Vitamin B7, also known as biotin, is part of the B-complex vitamins. It plays a major role in breaking down carbohydrates, fats and proteins, which in turn helps with energy production. It is also involved in maintaining healthy skin, hair and nervous system function.
Like all other B-complex vitamins, biotin is water soluble, which means your body doesn’t store it so daily intake is necessary. You can usually get enough vitamin B7 from the foods you eat, and you can also find multivitamin as well as B-complex vitamin supplements if you want to increase your intake.
Here we’re discussing 9 vitamin B7 health benefits you should know about — from strengthening your nails to boosting your immune system function.
Vitamin B7 Helps with Energy Production
Because biotin is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, it is also responsible for energy production in the body. This is because vitamin B7 is a coenzyme for carboxylases, which are the enzymes that assist in the following processes:
- Cellular energy production
- Insulin release
- Synthesis and breakdown of fatty acids
- Gluconeogenesis (the production of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources, including amino acids)
- Neurotransmitter and energy production from branched-chain amino acids (or BCAAs), such as leucine and isoleucine
If your body doesn’t have enough vitamin B7, then your metabolism will slow down. This can result in digestive problems, weight gain and tiredness or fatigue.
Vitamin B7 Supports Brain Function
One of the most notable vitamin B7 health benefits is its ability to support brain function. Vitamin B7 is essential in the formation of myelin sheath, which is a fatty substance that surrounds nerves and helps with nerve impulse conduction. If you’re vitamin B7 deficient, myelination is delayed, potentially leading to a number of other neurological symptoms. These include learning disabilities, seizures, lack of muscle coordination and depression.
Most of the time, these symptoms are addressed through biotin supplementation. Research also indicates that taking a high-dose biotin supplement can be effective in the treatment of biotin-responsive basal ganglia disease, a brain metabolic condition that causes confusion, seizures and abnormal coordination.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder marked by myelin damage and loss. Vitamin B7 might also help to limit or reverse multiple sclerosis-related symptoms because of its important role in myelination. A number of clinical trials found that taking a high-dose biotin supplement could reverse the progression of multiple sclerosis and improve symptoms.
Vitamin B7 Improves Immunity
Another one of the vitamin B7 health benefits is that it aids in the development of white blood cells, which strengthens your immune system. If you don’t have enough biotin in your body, this will weaken your immunity and will put you at a greater risk for infection.
The presence of biotin in adequate levels increases the production of Th1 cytokines, which help the immune system fight viral and bacterial infections.
Vitamin B7 deficiency is associated with decreased antibody synthesis and lower amounts of spleen and T cells in the body. It can also cause decreased rates of cellular proliferation, which in turn will weaken your immune system.
Having enough biotin in the body will also prevent biotinidase deficiency. Biotinidase is an enzyme that plays a major role in recycling biotin. Women who are biotinidase deficient are more likely to experience chronic vaginal candidiasis. This means that taking a vitamin B7 supplement can address biotinidase deficiency and ease the symptoms of chronic vaginal candidiasis.
Vitamin B7 Lowers Blood Glucose
Another one of the vitamin B7 health benefits is that it can lower blood glucose in those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Research suggests that biotin can increase insulin production, enhance glucose uptake in muscle cells and stimulate glucokinase, which is an enzyme that facilitates the synthesis of glycogen in the body.
In one clinical trial, daily supplementation of vitamin B7 resulted in a decrease in the fasting blood sugar concentrations by 45% on average. High doses of biotin were also shown to ease the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, which is a nerve damage condition commonly experienced by diabetic patients.
Some studies have found that vitamin B7 supplements can stimulate the secretion of insulin from the pancreas.
Vitamin B7 Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease
Vitamin B7 also has health benefits for the heart. Its contribution to normal fat metabolism makes it essential to maintaining heart and blood vessel health.
When combined with chromium picolinate, vitamin B7 helped to reduce the risk of heart disease. It increases high-density lipoprotein levels (HDL), decreases low-density lipoprotein levels (LDL) and lowers blood triglyceride concentrations in those with elevated triglyceride levels.
Vitamin B7 Aids in Weight Loss
Because of its exceptional contribution to boosting your metabolism, vitamin B7 is also great for aiding in your weight loss efforts. Once consumed, biotin elevates your resting rate of metabolism, which in turn accelerates the breakdown of food.
However, this doesn’t mean that biotin alone is enough to lose extra weight. Without proper diet and exercise, biotin won’t be effective.
Vitamin B7 Promotes Foetal and Child Development
The health benefits of vitamin B7 also include supporting foetal development in pregnant women. A recent study suggests that many pregnant women are biotin deficient, which might lead to serious birth defects. This is why taking a biotin supplement during pregnancy is recommended to encourage foetal development, promote baby health and reduce the risk of pregnancy complications.
Lactating women who are vitamin B7 deficient don’t provide enough biotin in their breast milk, which in turn leads to biotin deficiency in their babies. Supplementing their daily biotin intake is important to avoiding the complications associated with a deficiency in this nutrient.
Vitamin B7 Thickens Hair and Nails
Vitamin B7 also has incredible benefits for your hair. Biotin encourages hair to grow more quickly and sustainably, which in turn makes it thicker and more lustrous. If your hair is looking lifeless or it’s prone to breaking easily, then you might want to supplement your diet with biotin. Many hair care companies are now including biotin in their formulations to help improve lacklustre hair.
Research suggests that biotin deficiency can cause hair loss, which is why ensuring you’re getting enough of this nutrient can make a difference.
In addition to hair growth, biotin also helps to thicken nail cuticles and prevent breakage. If you have brittle nails, adding biotin to your diet can make them firmer, harder and thicker.
Vitamin B7 Improves Skin
Has your skin been rather dry and itchy lately? You could be vitamin B7 deficient.
Biotin deficiency is linked to a number of skin conditions, including seborrheic dermatitis and eczema. The reason for this appears to be its role in the synthesis and metabolism of fatty acids. Skin cells are dependent on fat production as they need extra protection against damage and from the water loss from constant outdoor exposure.
By taking enough vitamin B7, you can maintain your skin health in the long term and avoid the complications that might arise because of the deficiency.
Other Health Benefits of Vitamin B7
Extensive research into vitamin B7 has revealed other potential benefits of this nutrient. However, the evidence is insufficient so further research is needed to establish whether biotin can really make a difference.
Birth Defects Prevention
Low biotin levels during pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects by either altering fat metabolism and/or increasing genomic instability. This can result in foetal malformations and chromosomal abnormalities.
Human studies suggest that vitamin B7 deficiency can delay or halt the growth of the embryonic palate, causing cleft palate development. Similar findings were reported in animal studies, where even a subclinical level of vitamin B7 deficiency has been shown to cause limb abnormalities and cleft palate.
However, as the amount of research is lacking, further evidence is needed to support the effects of biotin on birth defects prevention.
DNA Damage Prevention
Another potential vitamin B7 health benefit is its ability to prevent DNA damage. According to researchers, biotin plays an important role in cellular proliferation and DNA repair and stability.
Low levels of vitamin B7 can cause genomic instability and abnormal gene expression as a result of inadequate histone biotinylation. As such, the risk of cancer is increased. Interestingly, another study found that genomic instability can be caused by high levels of biotin of up to 600mcg, which suggests that DNA damage prevention depends on the dose.
In any case, the link between biotin and DNA stabilisation needs to be explored further.
Vitamin B7 Is Really Great
There are many vitamin B7 health benefits that make it a truly remarkable nutrient. From boosting your immunity to preventing heart disease, it plays an important role in many key areas of your health and well-being.
Want to make sure you’re getting enough biotin? Here’s a list of vitamin B7 food sources you should add to your diet today.