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Is It Safe To Take Biotin Supplements? What Are The Side Effects Associated?

Reviewed By Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and certified Personal Trainer Alexandra Dusenberry, MS, RDN
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Is It Safe To Take Biotin Supplements? What Are The Side Effects Associated? Hyderabd040-395603080 June 20, 2019

Biotin (vitamin B7) is one of the vitamins that make up the vitamin group B-complex. All organisms require this water-soluble vitamin. But, it can only be synthesized by a few bacteria, yeast, mold, algae, and plant species. As a result, organ meats, eggs, fish, meat, seeds, nuts, and certain vegetables contain biotin. Consuming these foods in required amounts can satiate your body’s biotin requirement.

If that fails, you can rely on biotin supplements. Though they are all considered safe, an overdose of these supplements can have some side effects. Synthetic biotin can affect your skin, liver, and the overall homeostasis of your body.

However, there is little research done to prove these effects. We are here to highlight the downside of biotin supplementation for you. Scroll down and find out why this matters!

What Are The Side Effects Of Biotin Supplementation?

Technically, neither biotin nor its supplements are harmful to your body. It is only when you take an overdose of biotin that some organ systems get affected (1).

The right question to ask is what are the side effects of biotin over supplementation? Here are two major issues:

1. Interferes With Laboratory Tests

Excessive biotin supplementation interferes with certain diagnostic tests. Tests that are used to quantify your hormone and vitamin levels (like thyroid and vitamin D tests) are common targets (2).

These tests are run on the biophysical principle of affinity between biotin and its complement molecule. In this case, it is the hormone in question. The biotin-hormone interaction is quantified and interpreted in the test result (3).

In other words, the amount of biotin in your body has a direct impact on the reported hormone level. Therefore, high amounts of biotin may give a false positive or false negative result in such quantitative tests.

If the artificially supplied biotin in your body exceeds the recommended intake limit, it could start a chain of misdiagnoses, which can get life-threatening (2), (3), (4).

2. May Cause Drug Interactions

Biotin can interact with certain medications like anticonvulsants (anti-seizure drugs). Anticonvulsant treatment is given to people with epilepsy and seizures. These medicines can also stimulate the breakdown of biotin. This leads to reduced biotin status and inhibits intestinal absorption of biotin (2).

If you are on anticonvulsants like carbamazepine (Tegretol®, Carbatrol®, Epitol®, Equetro®), primidone (Mysoline®), phenytoin (Dilantin®, Phenytek®), phenobarbital (Luminal®, Solfoton®), or a combination of these medicines, consult your doctor (1).

Discuss with them if taking biotin supplements is recommended over dietary intake. Remember – a depletion in biotin levels sends false signals of biotin deficiency when, in reality, your body is capable of absorbing biotin well. It is only being hindered by anti-seizure drugs (1).

Yes, This Happened!

A case of fatal eosinophilic pleuropericardial effusion was reported. An older woman took a combination of 10 mg/day of biotin and 300 mg/day of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) for two months.

Her fatal condition could have been a consequence of an interaction between vitamins B5 and B7 (1). Since there is almost no supporting literature, such cases stay shut!

 

These side effects might be alarming. But, nothing can harm you if you stick to the dosage limit. Find out what the recommended dosage of biotin is in the next section!

How Much Biotin Is Safe And Recommended?

Sadly, there is insufficient data to estimate the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for biotin. However, the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has set recommendations for an Adequate Intake (AI) of this vitamin.

An average healthy adult usually takes about 40-60 μg of biotin per day. During pregnancy, your body needs more biotin. So, when it comes to supplementation, there is no upper limit set yet.

Taking a daily multivitamin-mineral supplement that provides at least 30 μg of biotin per day should be ideal (1).

However, biotin supplements up to 100-600 mg per day showed no toxicity. This high dose was continued for two months (1)!

In Conclusion…

Biotin is essential for your body, and it is good to consume adequate amounts of it. But in the name of supplementation, people end up with an overdose. High levels of biotin can interfere with laboratory tests and specific medication.

The best way out is to consult your healthcare provider. Take only the recommended amount of biotin supplements, even if you are pregnant. Always choose natural dietary sources of biotin over synthetic supplements (unless you have a congenital condition).

If you have further questions, feedback, and relevant suggestions, please share them in the comments section below.

Beware and stay healthy!

References

  1. Biotin” Micronutrient Information Center, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University.
  2. Biotin” Health Information, Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health.
  3. The FDA Warns that Biotin May Interfere…” Safety Communications, U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
  4. FDA Safety Alert: Biotin Can Affect Medical Test Results” HealthEssentials, Cleveland Clinic.

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