Biotin: The Nutrient for better skin and nails?

When I think of Biotin, I usually think of an old co-worker and friend of mine who always had Biotin gummy vitamins on her desk that promoted the growth of hair, skin and nails.

So let’s start there, talking about why Biotin is often linked to hair, skin and nails. One of the symptoms of a Biotin deficiency is red, dry scaly dermatitis found around the eyes, nose and mouth. Other symptoms are alopecia (body hair loss) and brittle nails. But, with that being said, it’s important to note that a biotin deficiency is very rare. People at highest risk for deficiency are people who have an excessive consumption of raw egg whites. A protein in the raw egg white prevents the absorbing of the vitamin. Therefore, in terms of oral supplementation, and use of biotin as a hair and skin conditioning agent in cosmetic type products have been shown to be safe but studies documenting its effectiveness in treating hair and nail problems are lacking.

Biotin is important for nutrient metabolism and energy production as well as regulating gene expression.

Biotin is actually made my bacteria living in the colon as well as being widely distributed in foods. The biotin made by the bacteria is not enough needed so it’s also important to get it via foods.

The RDA for Biotin is 30 micro-grams a day and 35 micro grams a day for woman who are pregnant or lactating.

The major sources of biotin are liver, milk, soybeans, egg yolks. legumes and nuts, as well as salmon and cereals. ( Cheerios and Frosted Flakes both have Biotin)

Vitamin B3: Building a case for peanut butter.

Ah, is there anything better than peanut butter? In my mind, no. I love it and even though I feel like it’s been pushed to the side over the years as other nut butters have burst onto the scene, I have continued to stay loyal.

In class this week we were going through the B Complex Vitamins and we got to Vitamin B3 (otherwise known as Niacin). The RDA for this vitamin is, 14 mg a day for woman and 16 mg a day for men. Well guess what, in looking over the food sources of Vitamin B3 (Niacin), low and behold, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter is listed as a good source containing 4.3 mg. When I fact checked that with the Extra Crunchy Skippy Jar I have at my desk, I saw that it contained 3.2 mg (so pretty close). That’s 20% of your Daily Value.

And even though it may make sense to eat a food source that’s closer to the RDA many of those sources aren’t as readily available daily and/or may not appeal to our taste buds. Tuna, Swordfish, Salmon, Halibut & Beef are among the top sources, things I don’t eat. Hence, why I focused on peanut butter.

And since we’re talking about this fun vitamin, listen to this, when you eat protein, an amino acid in the protein called tryptophan, you know the word that’s always associated with turkey and thanksgiving? that actually synthesizes to Niacin in the body. So you can eat Niacin and make Niacin. About 60 mg of tryptophan generates 1 mg of Niacin. And every 1 gram of complete protein has about 10 mg of tryptophan. So to overly simplify that, let’s just say 1 oz of chicken contains 6 grams of protein. That 1 oz will generate 1 mg of Niacin Equivalent.

So you have some peanut butter and some complete protein and you’re on your way to satisfying your bodies need for Niacin (Vitamin B3)

And why should you care about Niacin? Because it is important for energy metabolism. Yey Metabolism!

Vitamin C: Does it REALLY help fight colds?

VOranges, right? Eat when you’re sick? Yup, that’s what we think of. But there’s more to this well known Vitamin.

First, for all the learning nerds like myself, let me tell you about the discovery of Vitamin C. British sailors frequently died from Scurvy on sea voyages. A physician found that sucking juice from a lime was protective and so British sailors began received limes to prevent scurvy.

Vitamin C is found mostly as ascorbic acid (that’s important to know because that is what you will see on any ingredient label) If you are a mom, you will commonly see ascorbic acid listed as an ingredient in those little apple sauce pouches the kids eat.

Now we’ve all heard of taking high doses of Vitamin C when we are sick right…well listen to this…during a usual intake of Vitamin C, let’s say 30-100 mg (say you eat an orange), your body can absorb about 70-95% of that Vitamin C. Now let’s say you increase your intake, you ingest a powder that says it has 1000 mg of Vitamin C…well guess what, your body can only absorb about 50% of that…And if you have even more, the absorption rate drops to 16%. Pretty interesting, right? Proves that more, isn’t always better. Which you will come to find is a common theme in nutrition.

Now let’s talk about colds. The easiest way I can explain if it helps to take Vitamin C when you get sick is this, when you take Vitamin C at the onset of a cold, it’s like not flossing for 6 months and then flossing an hour before you see the dentist (thanks to my husband for that analogy) Regular use of Vitamin  C can shorten the duration of a cold if you’ve been taking it regularly. But taking it once the cold symptoms start, has not been shown beneficial.

Fun fact, One of Vitamin C’s most notable interactions is with Iron. Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron.

Oh and get this, when it comes to antioxidants, Vitamin C is the superior water soluble antioxidant. (That means it’s superior to all the other B Vitamins.)

So how much do you need and where can ya get it?

Women need 75mg and men need 90 mg. You should aim for more if you are a smoker. And if you are pregnant or breast feeding you should increase to 100 mg.

  • 1 Cup Tomato Juice: 170 mg
  • ½ Cup Green Pepper: 102 mg
  • 1 Cup Strawberries: 89 mg
  • 1 Cup Papaya: 88 mg
  • 1 Cup of sectioned oranges: 87 mg
  • ½ Cup Kiwi: 84 mg
  • 1 Cup sectioned grapefruit: 72 mg