Look at the ingredients in cosmetic products and you may be surprised to see that vitamin B7 or biotin is a key component! Thanks to vitamin B7’s role in a multitude of cellular reactions, particularly interactions keeping your hair, finger nails, and skin healthy, it is often recommended for strengthening hair and nails. Vitamin B7 is involved in metabolism as a coenzyme that transfers carbon dioxide, an important step in breaking down food including carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy. This role is critical.
The Primary Sources of Vitamin B7
Vitamin B7 can be found in: vegetables; cereals; nuts such as almonds, walnuts, peanuts; yeast; and soybeans. It is also sourced from animal products such as eggs, milk, liver, and kidney or synthesized by intestinal bacteria.
Bioavailability of Vitamin B7
In foods, biotin is found as the free form or bound to dietary proteins. The bioavailability of biotin depends on the ability of protein enzymes in the stomach to convert protein-bound biotin to free biotin. Biotin is not sensitive to light, heat, or humidity.
Risks Related to Inadequate or Excess Intake of Vitamin B7
Experts have yet to quantify the amount of biotin in natural foods. Deficiency due to lack of dietary intake is rare in healthy populations. Symptoms of deficiency include general fatigue, nausea, neurological problems, poor skin, and hair quality. No adverse effects have been reported with excessive intakes of biotin.
Find more information on vitamins and micronutrient deficiencies though our partner, Vitamin Angels or download our complete vitamin and mineral guide here. Here is a delicious way to incorporate biotin into your diet – enjoy!
Banana and Walnut Loaf*
100g softened butter plus a little extra for greasing
140g caster sugar
1 beaten egg
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 very ripe bananas
85g chopped walnuts
Pre-heat the oven to 180C (fan) and 160C (gas). Grease a 2lb loaf tin with some butter and line the base with baking parchment, and then grease this as well.
In a large bowl, mix the butter, sugar, and egg together and then slowly mix in flour and baking powder. Peel, then mash the bananas. Now mix everything together, including the nuts. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack before removing from the loaf tin. The loaf can now be wrapped tightly in cling film and kept for up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost and warm through before serving. Serve in thick slices topped with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with a little chocolate sauce for a dessert.
At age 17, Ms Cheril has just won a place on the prestigious and highly competitive Bachelor in Journalism course at Maasai Mara University, in Narok, Kenya.
When Sight and Life spoke with Ms. Cheril, she said that, above all, her experience with RWG has made her passionate about working with the poorest of the poor, and about giving a voice to the voiceless.
Sight and Life magazine (SAL): Please explain the foundation of the Ramala Women Group.
Munters Cheril (MC): Kofi Annan, a Ghanaian diplomat, wrote “study after study has taught us that there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women”. RWG is that tool for the development of women, households, families and communities in Kenya and the world. In 2000, RWG was founded by seven people who were touched by the ever-growing atrocities of poverty in all forms; the rampant abuse of vulnerable women, youths, and children’s inalienable rights; the high prevalence of malnutrition and micronutrients deficiencies (hidden hunger) among children; the effects of HIV/AIDS; and poor living condition among vulnerable communities.
This community-based organisation (CBO) is dedicated to fighting poverty by enhancing, fostering, promoting, and strengthening psychosocial and economic opportunities for women and children in underserved, vulnerable, and marginalized communities in Migori and neighboring counties in Kenya.
RWG envisages a prosperous, resilient, and improved quality of life for households in underprivileged communities and an increased proactive involvement of women in holistic developmental initiatives at local, regional, national, and international levels. The group is committed to enhancing households’ socio-economic opportunities by providing hope, restoring, and promoting women’s pride – not only in Kenya, but also throughout the world. This should enable women to be self-reliant and self-sufficient, with households and communities, which are empowered to prioritize and respond proactively and in a timely fashion to their needs.
SAL: What are RWG’s overall goals and core values?
MC: The organization’s overall mission is to enhance, foster, promote, and strengthen households’ socio-economic opportunities for sustainable development. RWG seeks to harness locally available resources and materials and put them into effective, efficient, constructive, and meaningful use. It aims to partner with likeminded groups or organizations in order to prepare the impoverished communities to be conscious of their challenges, and respond intelligently to the same with the noble goal of improving their living conditions and thus mitigating poverty within households, families, and communities.
RWG endeavors to increase access to secure and sustainable dignified livelihoods and economic opportunities, through integrated and participatory community development, capacity building, advocacy, and socio-economic empowerment.
It sees development as a process, not as an end: ‘to develop is to become not to have.’ Community proactive involvement is the only sure vehicle through which the process of development can be achieved.
The group would like, insofar as it is possible, to achieve households’ prosperity and resilience. It encourages proactive and transformative community involvement in support of effective and efficient project design, policy formulation, and implementation of applied programs aimed at mitigating poverty in all forms among rural households, families, and communities.
SAL: Why is it a women’s group, and how successful has it been to date?
MC: In Kenya, women represent over 72 percent of those living on less than 2 USD per day. Women suffer inequitably from the chronic effects of poor nutrition, insufficient healthcare, and limited educational opportunity. Women contribute to 67 percent of the world’s work and receive less than 10 percent of the pay. They spend 90 percent of their income on their families, while men typically spend less than 35 percent alone. In addition, women who contribute to family finances have greater decision-making power resulting in better nutrition, health, and education for their children. When family needs are met, women are more likely to then invest in their communities.
In sixteen years, RWG membership has grown to 983 (based on 2016 figures). Sight and Life has supported the group’s initiatives, with the aim of improving the welfare of children by mitigating the dangers associated with vitamin A deficiencies, since 2001 and by 2006 the focus was scaled up to include deficiencies of micronutrients and other vital vitamins. Through this initiative and partnership, over 60,000 children and 25,000 women respectively have benefited directly from Sight and Life’s support. Additionally, it is believed that over 0.72 million people have benefited indirectly.
SAL: What is your personal experience with RWG?
MC: As a vulnerable child in 2003, I was recruited and enrolled into RWG’s Food and Nutrition program due to my nutrition and health conditions. By the time I was taken in by RWG, through the actions of a social worker, I was four years old, severely malnourished, and on the brink of death.
As a result of proper food and a nutrition intervention implemented by RWG with the support of Sight and Life, my holistic (intellectual and volitional) health significantly improved. I became more active and playful. I was then enrolled into a pre-school program at Rongo Baptist Kindergarten by RWG where my self-esteem improved and I became more confident than ever before. This impressed my teachers who encouraged me to take part in school functions. In church, my public speaking and presentation skills improved too, I sang in the children’s choir.
SAL: How many MixMeTM packets/meals did you receive? And until what age did you go?
MC: Through the program I took foods enriched with MixMeTM powder provided by Sight and Life on a daily basis from the first day I was enrolled into the program by RWG. I was on MixMeTM for over four years and I stopped in 2007 when I was seven years old.
Today, I am a RWG volunteer. My main role is to visit households and schools introducing people to the values of proper nutrition and micronutrients and the dangers associated with deficiencies of the same. My ambition is to educate the masses on nutrition and micronutrients by sharing information and educating children, households, and communities. As a journalist, I hope to focus on the welfare of women and children by sharing their stories and finding how their livelihoods can be improved for the better.
SAL: How did RWG help in other ways?
MC: I was enrolled into a pre-school program at Rongo Baptist Kindergarten by RWG, where I started my schooling. The group supported me through my elementary and high school education until the fourth form. A group of women with big hearts paid my school fees and provided the things I needed during high school. After that, they said they could not continue to support me through my college education as they were supporting other children through their primary and high school education. To date, the group is still supporting me.
As a way of reciprocating the hope and promise of a bright future they have given to me, I have dedicated my voluntary service to the group. I wish to contribute significantly towards the welfare of women and vulnerable children. My hope is that I can help restore someone’s hope as Sight and Life through RWG restored mine seventeen years ago. I want to put a smile on someone’s face as Sight and Life through RWG did for me. The group has been with me through thick and thin and I have committed myself to giving back to the community and the group in any way I can.
I am seeking partners such as Sight and Life to help me walk my talk. Through my journalistic skills, I am confident that I will be able to do it through collaboration with likeminded partners.
SAL: Why did you choose journalism for your studies?
MC: Henry Anatole Grunwald, an Austrian-born American journalist and diplomat perhaps best known for his position as managing editor of TIME magazine and editor in chief of Time, Inc., said:
“Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.”
There is, quite simply, always a need for journalists in our world and in our communities, especially now, where it seems a sad, negative event occurs daily. Journalists are passionate about sharing stories, and provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible informed decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments.
I am extremely passionate about working with destitute communities, providing educational opportunities for vulnerable children, and underserved and marginalized communities. I have always loved writing. I have always loved reading what others write. I love how people can sometimes feel how someone else feels by reading their stories.
Studying journalism will give me a chance to build important skills, such as researching, writing, interviewing, and thinking critically and creatively. I will be able to learn about people and their communities, and suggest the best possible action plan for improving people’s living conditions. As a journalist, I am to be a voice to the voiceless, so that those who are in power can hear silent voices through the stories I share.
Announcing the NEW sightandlife.org
Check out the features & information now available
Our redesigned website is now equipped with enhanced navigation and functionality for an improved user experience and a robust blog full of engaging posts.
The design and large visual elements of the website are visually pleasing while the original content is valuable for the audiences within the nutrition sector. Created with the user experience in mind, the site boasts many new features to help users quickly and easily navigate the site to find relevant information.
We invite you to explore the new attributes highlighted below:
About Us: Learn more about Sight and Life and our dedication to eradicating all forms of malnutrition in this section through our vision and strategy that is being carried out by our talented leadership team and board members. Additionally, this page tells the story of our history starting in 1986, with an original goal to be at the forefront of global efforts to improve vitamin A nutrition, to today serving as a nutrition think tank.
Our Work: Take a look at Sight and Life’s projects around the world and more specifically in Africa, Asia, and South America. This interactive page shares each of our projects which are divided into categories including research, advocacy, public health, humanitarian, or social business. We have established a distinguished alliance consisting of academia, research partners, and funders working collectively to eliminate all forms of malnutrition. Together, we discover and implement sustainable solutions, grounded on solid scientific evidence, to improve the lives of those in most need.
News: The latest happenings in the nutrition atmosphere, from newly released reports and guidelines to important announcements, will be posted and keep our readers up-to-date.
Blog: Visit the blog to find insightful and scientific posts relating to nutrition. Keep tabs on this page as we will continue rolling out new and original posts including interesting perspectives from nutrition thought leaders and interviews with select authors fromm the latest issue of the Sight and Life magazine.
Resources: Sight and Life provides a range of educational materials on malnutrition issues. This section is filled with the current, and past editions dating back to 2005, of the Sight and Life magazine and supplements along with our highly sought after infographics. In addition, we have books, brochures, and documentaries to support the information needs of health workers, scientists, representatives of governmental/non-governmental agencies, and the media.
Sight and Life is an active member of the DSM-World Food Programme (WFP) partnership, entitled “Improving Nutrition – Improving Lives”. The partnership aims to fight the debilitating effects of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world. This shows how public-private partnerships can work and deliver, through harnessing individual strengths.
“I am the co-chair of the partnership from DSM’s end. As part of the joint management team, I provide strategic guidance and my expertise in nutrition science to the partnership. – Klaus Kraemer, Director Sight and Life
Sight and Life provides the partnership with scientific expertise. Areas include food vehicle development using a consumer-first approach; rice fortification technical advice for efficacy trials and programs; an advocacy and communication platform; and capacity building through training on nutrition basics, situation analysis, response options, behavior change communication and advocacy, and program resource materials such as the Cost of the Diet Tool.
“I’m assessing World Food Programme (WFP) behavior change communication strategies, and developing a framework that can be used across all the nutrition programs in both emergency and non-emergency settings, as well as developing the guidance documents to help country program officers.” – Eva Monterrosa, Sight and Life Scientific Manager
The partnership also helps to implement large-scale micronutrient powder (MNP) programs as part of WFP nutrition strategy. As a co-founder and member of the Home Fortification Technical Advisory Group (HF-TAG), Sight and Life has played an important role in the development of a 15-micronutrient formulation for MNPs that has been endorsed by both the WFP and The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). MNPs have now been recognised as an effective way to deliver indispensable nutrition, through various delivery platforms, either free or through a market based approach.
As a passionate advocate of gender policy, one of my first projects was to evaluate a government scheme to increase female labour force participation in rural Odisha, India. Women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five were recruited into skill development centres to receive vocational training and become breadwinners for their families. They were often the first ones in their families to venture out of the village. On my first visit, I remember being overwhelmed by a sense of disbelief and outrage- each centre I visited was full of girls who should have been in upper primary school. I indignantly called my project director to report child labour practices and our ensuing conversation is what first helped me understand the power of nutrition.
My director informed me that they were in fact, not school-age girls but rather women who had been denied basic nutrition at their most critical periods of growth and development in early life, which had stunted their physical growth. I quickly realized that access to and knowledge of proper nutrition had held these women back in so many ways and that working in nutrition would be one of the most meaningful ways in which I could advance gender policy.
“Working at Sight and Life means being part of an organization that puts innovation at the center of all its work. I love being part of a global team that’s constantly pushing the envelope on and shaping thinking around the most important issues in the nutrition.”
– Madhavika Bajoria
At Sight and Life, I hope I can bring my experience in multi-sectoral partnerships, program management and advocacy to amplify the important work being done to advance knowledge and implementation in nutrition. I am most excited about the unique opportunity I have here to integrate nutrition across sectors, especially those that most impact development outcomes for women.