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Biotin is the common name for vitamin H or vitamin B7. This water soluble complex vitamin is required by the body to convert fats, protean and carbohydrates into more usable forms.

Biotin is necessary for cell growth and the production of fatty acids, as well as the metabolism of amino acids. Biotin is also used by the body to help maintain regular blood sugar levels.

Food sources
Good sources of Biotin include sardines, mackerel, liver, kidney beans and egg yolks. Cauliflower and most varieties of mushrooms are also high in Biotin.

Daily requirement
The European Commission daily recommendation for Biotin is 150mcg for both men and women. In the United States, the recommendations are considerably higher at 300 micrograms daily. There are no UK set daily recommended allowance figures.

Deficiency
Biotin deficiency can be caused by an unbalanced diet but also through alcohol abuse which impairs the body's ability to function effectively. Pregnant women and the elderly may also be low in Biotin due to the changes in the body's levels of stomach acid.

A Biotin deficiency can cause painful and inflamed skin, as well as significant hair loss. Nausea, loss of appetite, and in some cases, the development of higher cholesterol can also occur.

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