Biotin, also called vitamin B7 or vitamin H, is an essential, water-soluble vitamin that plays a key role in metabolizing fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids. The nutrient is relatively stable and easily accessible, but some people cannot process it, and this results in a range of health problems. Biotin deficiency is a rare condition that affects mental, physical, and psychological processes and requires a quick response before it cascades into something more serious.
People limit or adjust their food intake for many reasons, and certain long-term diets can lead to biotin deficiency. For example, those who consume large amounts of raw egg whites for long periods may become deficient. Raw eggs whites contain avidin, a protein that binds irrevocably to biotin and simply carries it through the body until it is eliminated in urine. Antibiotics can also cause deficiencies because they kill both unhealthy and healthy bacteria in the gut; the healthy kind naturally produces biotin. People being fed through an IV are also prone to this deficiency.
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