Biotin Deficiency: Causes and Symptoms

Biotin Deficiency

Biotin, also known as vitamin B7 or vitamin H is an important nutrient needed by the body in little amount. We have covered a lot on biotin, click HERE to read.

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I won’t waste time, let’s just go straight to the symptoms of biotin deficiency.

Causes of Biotin Deficiency

Biotin deficiency is rare among people that at variety of plant-based foods. Though rare, it is possible to be deficient in biotin. Some babies are even born with biotin deficiency when they inherit an enzyme deficiency.

Adults can also have biotin deficiency if they fall ill, eat wrong foods, or take certain medications. Pregnancy and alcoholism cause biotin deficiency.

Some medications like anti-convulsant drugs deplete the levels of biotin in your body. Inflammatory bowel disease and other digestive problems can affect the absorption of biotin from foods thus leading to a nutritional deficiency.

Smoking, prolonged use of antibiotics and can affect your gut flora and cause malabsorption. Taking high doses of vitamin B5 supplements can interfere with the absorption of biotin.

Some people are born with a genetic condition that makes it difficult for them to absorb free biotin. Also, not eating sufficient levels of biotin-rich foods can cause a deficiency. Rich sources of biotin in nature are:

  • Avocados
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Organic eggs (Don’t eat raw eggs, it has avidin which binds to biotin and renders it ineffective).
  • Salmon and other oily fish
  • Organ meats
  • Organic dairy and dairy products
  • Cauliflower
  • Bananas
  • Legumes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Berries
  • Whole grains and whole-grain bread
  • Mushrooms
  • Seeds and nuts like almonds and sunflower seeds
  • Fish

This post will expose the symptoms of biotin deficiency so you can know if to go for a test to confirm your levels of biotin.

Requirement of Biotin for Different Age Groups

  • Infants require 5 micrograms daily
  • Kids aged 7 months to 3 years old need 6 to 8 micrograms daily
  • Children aged 1 to 13 years old need 12 to 20 micrograms
  • Adults (both male and female) over the age of 19 need 30 micrograms daily.
  • Pregnant women need 30 micrograms daily
  • Breastfeeding mothers need 35 micrograms daily

Biotin is involved in a lot of metabolic activities. It also takes part in digestion, cardiovascular, and neurological processes.

So, a biotin deficiency must be corrected immediately to prevent complications setting in.

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Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency

Skin and hair problems

This is the first and most common symptom of biotin deficiency. This is an important indicator and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Brittle hair and nails are common in people who are deficient in biotin.

Overtime, brittle hair can lead to hair loss. This is why biotin is used in making a lot of hair and skin beauty products. A deficiency in biotin makes your skin inflamed and irritated.

One of the most common symptoms in people with biotin deficiency is seborrhoeic dermatitis. This is characterized by skin lesions and skin dryness. An increase in the intake of biotin can stop these.

Chronic fatigue

Biotin helps convert the foods you eat into energy. If this nutrient is lacking in your body, you will experience frequent tiredness. If this is not handled fast, it can become chronic due to severe deficiency of biotin.

Another way biotin causes constant fatigue and weakness is by suppressing the ability of the mitochondrial cells to produce energy. Your mitochondria are the powerhouse of your cells.

When you don’t have sufficient levels of biotin, they won’t be able to function properly.

Impaired synthesis of fats

In digestion, biotin is needed for the synthesis of fats. And fat plays lots of important roles in the body. Fat cannot be used as a source of energy when biotin is absent in the body.

Individuals with vitamin B7 deficiency have abnormal metabolism of fat. This can increase your risk of fatty liver. When you have low biotin, your body will use less fat to make energy and most of it will be stored in the liver.

Keratoconjunctivitis

Biotin deficiency can cause eye problems especially conjunctivitis. This vitamin protects your eyes from infections. A deficiency in B7 causes weak immune system.

There will be defects in your B and T cells when you have low immunity. This will reduce the ability of your body to fight off infections in the eyes and other body parts.

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Brain and neurological problems

B7 protects your brain. Seizures, multiple sclerosis, and other neurological disorders happen when a severe deficiency of biotin sets in. Biotin protects the outer covering of your nerves in the brain and spinal cord against damages.

When biotin is missing in the body, this outer covering protecting your nerves can rupture. This can lead to multiple sclerosis. B7 also improves the health and functions of your brain.

Deficiency of B7 increases your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. The brain cannot even function properly without biotin and this can negatively affect your quality of life.

Increases the frequency of fungal infection

Individuals deficient in biotin are at higher risks of fungal infection because biotin stops the growth and multiplication of fungus. A fungal infection can make the skin red, scaly, rough, and dry.

It prevents further damages caused by fungal infections. It will be nice to add a biotin supplement to your therapy if you are treating fungal infections.

Low appetite

Also known as anorexia is common in biotin-deficient people. Aside from low appetite, people with biotin deficiencies may also suffer from hallucinations, lack of sensation or excess of it, depression, and lethargy.

Abnormal electrocardiographic activity of the heart

The electrical activity of your heart is known as the electrocardiographic activity. Biotin deficiency can lead to an irregular electrical activity of the heart.

If left untreated, this can lead to serious heart complications.

Development problems in kids

Biotin deficiency can delay growth and development in infants. Delayed growth and development can be cured by increased intake of B7. If this deficiency is not corrected early, it can become life-threatening.

Other symptoms of biotin deficiency are:

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  • Muscle cramps
  • Tingling in the hands and feet

Sources;

  1. Biotin deficiency and MS JNS
  2. Biotin and hair loss NCBI, NCBI, NCBI,
  3. Biotin and organ health NCBI
  4. Biotin and the composition of fatty acids and tissues NCBI
  5. Biotin and your brain NCBI
  6. Biotin and your skin NCBI
  7. Biotin and Energy NCBI, OA,
Faith Ebiojo David
I am a Biochemist and Naturopath, I love writing and educating people on health and wellness matters.