Pregnancy is a period of utmost care. Pregnant women need to ensure that they have adequate nutrition in every meal. The unborn baby gets all its nutrition from the food that the mother eats. That is why It is recommended that they eat a balanced diet. In addition in many cases doctors recommend extra supplements. This is because women don’t get enough nutrition from their diet or are throwing up so much that the body is unable to absorb nutrition from food. One such supplement is Biotin.
Need for biotin:
Biotin is a water soluble Vitamin B. It is also commonly known as Vitamin B7 or Vitamin H. It helps convert the food you eat into energy. It is a coenzyme which is needed for the metabolism of amino acid and glucose. But being water soluble, the excess biotin will simply pass through your urine. It is recommended by doctors as it helps hair growth and making bones and nails strong. It also keeps the skin, liver and nervous system healthy. It helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Biotin in pregnancy:
In case of pregnant women, it is all the more important that adequate biotin is taken. The body breaks down biotin faster in pregnancy and it cannot be stored. That is why it is seen that pregnant ladies have this deficiency. Biotin takes care of the growth and development of the fetus. It is a safe supplement but it is important that the dosage is taken as prescribed by the doctor. The general daily recommended dosage of biotin is 25mcg to 30 mcg. Biotin does not usually have any side effects but in case there is any irritation or allergic reaction, it is better to immediately consult your doctor. In some people, it can cause mild nausea or indigestion. It is also good to inform the doctor whether any other vitamin supplement is being taken.
Deficiency of biotin causes hair loss and discolouration, dry eyes, tingling sensation in arms and legs, numbness and even depression in adults. In a few cases it leads to skin rash, fatigue and insomnia.
Food containing biotin:
Along with the supplement it is important that your diet comprises biotin-rich foods. Let us discuss a few food items which contains good quantity of biotin.
- Grains and nuts: Nuts like walnuts, pecan, almonds and peanuts are rich in biotin. It is also good to eat whole grains and cereals in every meal.
- Dairy products: Eggs are the main source of biotin, so this becomes a necessary part of everyday diet. But care has to be taken that the eggs are cooked completely before consumption. It is also good to include milk and cheese in the diet.
- Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of biotin. Mushrooms, cauliflower, bananas, avocado, raspberries, carrot, onion cucumber etc contain biotin.
- Legumes: Legumes like soybean and black eyed peas etc are also a good source of biotin.
- Meat and fish: Salmon, sardines etc are rich in biotin.
Biotin and hair growth:
The human hair shafts are made up of Keratin which is a type of protein. The reaction of cell enzymes and biotin forms amino acids. These help build proteins. Thus biotin is essential for hair growth. Deficiency of biotin affects texture, appearance and strength of hair. Without biotin, hair follicles become weak and hair loses its ability to regrow.
Dosage of biotin for hair growth depend on your age and current health conditions. Usually the recommended dosage is
- 25 mcg for young adults ages 14 to 18
- 20 mcg for children ages 9 to 13
- 12 mcg for children ages 4 to 8
- 8 mcg for children ages 1 to 3
- 7 mcg for children under 12 months old
- 35 mcg for pregnant women.
But it is advisable for even non-pregnant women to consult a doctor and before taking biotin supplements. It is usually taken orally, in the form of pills. In some cases, women alter their diet to include biotin-rich food items. Continuous intake of biotin helps make stronger hair follicles and results in thicker hair. It has also become an important ingredient in hair products like oils and shampoos. In some people, effects of biotin on hair can be seen as early as 3 weeks while in a few others it may take upto six months.
It is good to remember that the supplement alone will not help hair growth. It works only in combination with overall healthy diet and lifestyle.