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Biotin (vitamin B7)

Biotin is also known as vitamin B7 and vitamin H. The "H" comes from the German words for skin and hair, which might give you a clue as to why biotin is a vital nutrient for the human body.

Biotin is a coenzyme, which aids the body in processing glucose and synthesising proteins. Because we do not carry stores of biotin, we need to consume a certain amount of it on a daily basis, either through food or as a supplement.

First discovered as a treatment for horse's hooves, biotin plays an essential role in the health of hair, skin and nails, and is often added to beauty products. However, it cannot be absorbed through the hair, nails or skin, and must be ingested. During pregnancy, biotin is vital for the healthy growth of the embryo.

In the diet, excellent sources of biotin include yeast, egg yolks, nuts and liver. Salmon, cheese and avocados are good sources too.

Early research suggests that biotin, combined with chromium, may help in the treatment of diabetes, lowering blood sugar and decreasing insulin resistance. Biotin supplements are typically available as capsules or tablets.

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