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Organic compound, part of the vitamin B complex, essential for growth and well-being in animals and some microorganisms. A carboxylic acid with two rings in its structure, it includes nitrogen and sulfur atoms as well as carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. It functions in the formation and metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. It is widely distributed in nature and is especially abundant in egg yolk, beef liver, and yeast. A biotin deficiency can be induced by consuming large amounts of raw egg white, which contains a protein (avidin) that combines with biotin and makes it unavailable. Biotin is needed to synthesize fatty acids and convert amino acids to glucose in the body.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on biotin, visit Britannica.com.