Biotin is part of the B-vitamin family. Biotin benefits the synthesis of fat, glycogen, and amino acids and enzyme reactions and is required for DNA replication. Biotin is especially important for healthy hair and nails.
Biotin benefits fingernails by making them strong and resilient. Deficiency is rare except in those with hereditary disorders of biotin metabolism, liver disease, and during pregnancy (due to increased needs). It can also occur in those who consume raw egg white for prolonged periods (weeks to years) because a protein found in egg white (avidin) binds biotin and prevents its absorption or in those given intravenous feeding without biotin supplementation.
Although most people get adequate biotin from diet and/or supplements, signs of deficiency include hair loss; scaly red rash around the eyes, nose, mouth, and genital area; depression; lethargy; hallucination; numbness and tingling of the extremities; and impaired glucose utilization and immune system function.
Drugs that deplete biotin: primidone, carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phentyoin, valproic acid, and antibiotics.
To get biotin benefits from your food, be sure to include egg yolks, liver, wheat bran, yeast, oatmeal, soybeans, cauliflower, mushrooms, and nuts in your diet.