4. Vitamin B7
Biotin, or Vitamin B7, like other B vitamins, is water-soluble and forms part of the “Vitamin B Complex” group. It is essential for healthy nerve, digestive, cardiovascular and metabolic functions. Biotin acts as a coenzyme in the body and is needed for the breakdown of amino acids, glucose, and fatty acids. What this means is that the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates we eat need to be converted to macronutrients for energy; biotin is what ensures this process takes place, which means our body can function correctly, physically and psychologically.
It helps with high blood glucose levels in people with Type 2 diabetes and can also help decrease insulin resistance and improve glucose tolerance. It has also been used to treat conditions like alopecia, cancer, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Rett syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, seborrheic dermatitis, and vaginal candidiasis.
Vitamin B7 helps maintain healthy hair, nails, and skin, and is often called vitamin H, which comes from the German word Haar and Haut, which means “hair and skin”. Vitamin B7 is also added to hair and skin beauty products, although it’s not necessarily absorbed very well through the skin. There are eight different types of vitamin B7 biotin, of which only one is natural, the one found in food. This is called “D-biotin” and is the only one that has full vitamin capabilities. Although we’re able to get our vitamins from supplements it’s still better to get our nutrients from real food sources wherever possible.
A deficiency in B7 is rare but it can occur. The symptoms include brittle hair, abnormal heart functioning, lethargy, anemia, depression, and rashes. Other symptoms can include a swollen and painful magenta colored tongue, dry eyes, cracking in the corners of the mouth, loss of appetite, and insomnia. The best foods to get your fix of vitamin B7 from are sweet potatoes, almonds, carrots, bananas, cantaloupes, fish, yellow fruits, green leafy vegetables, lentils, brown rice, peppers, egg yolks, soybeans, dairy products, nuts, and mushrooms.