- Excessive consumption of biotin or vitamin B7 could interfere with critical medical tests, specifically those for diagnosing heart attacks.
- The popularity of high-dose biotin supplements has significantly increased, with around 3% of U.S. adults consuming it by 2016, up from 0.1% in 1999-2000. The daily intake is often significantly higher than the recommended dietary intake of 30 micrograms per day.
- Older adults, particularly, are at risk as they are more susceptible to heart attacks. High-dose biotin could potentially decrease the accuracy of a heart attack diagnosis.
- While biotin can be beneficial for conditions like brittle nails, hair loss, and skin rashes, these cases are rare. Moreover, there is limited evidence supporting the benefits of biotin supplements for skin, hair, or nails health.
- Patients considering taking large doses of biotin are advised to consult their doctors, particularly if they are also on medication for other health conditions. Doctors, too, should be aware of this potential interference and inquire about supplement use from patients showing heart attack symptoms.
The vitamin biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is increasingly becoming popular among older individuals aiming to improve the condition of their skin, hair, and nails as they age.
However, a novel study suggests that consuming large amounts of this vital nutrient could significantly interfere with vital medical tests. At normal dosage, usually found in multivitamins, there’s no concern. However, a surge in high doses may skew results in life-saving blood tests, according to the study’s lead researcher, Danni Li.
The Impact on Medical Diagnostic Tests
Excessive biotin intake can distort the reading of blood tests checking the levels of protein troponin, a significant biomarker used in diagnosing heart attacks. This discrepancy led to a safety alert by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2017.
What remains uncertain, however, is the extent to which these high-dose biotin supplements are used. To address this question, Li and her team decided to investigate using information collected from an ongoing U.S. health survey.
Popularity of High-Dose Biotin Supplements
The findings unveiled a growing appreciation of biotin, with about 3% of U.S. adults consuming it by 2016, a significant leap from 0.1% between 1999 and 2000. High-dose biotin is classified as a daily intake of 1 milligram (mg) or higher, massively surpassing the recommended dietary intake of 30 micrograms per day.
Interestingly, the study found more women choosing to take these supplements compared to men. Approximately 7% of women aged 60 or older consumed at least 1 mg each day, while an extra 2% incline towards doses of 5 mg or more.
Risks Associated with High Dose Biotin
Such trends are alarming, considering that older adults are more susceptible to heart attacks, especially if they suffer from conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. “If one takes high-dose biotin and suffers a heart attack, accurate diagnosis chances might decrease significantly,” warns Dr. Anne Thorndike, chair of the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee.
According to Dr. Thorndike, those at a higher risk of heart attacks should refrain from large doses of biotin. She further impressed the importance of medical practitioners being fully aware of this potential biotin interference and routinely inquiring about potential supplement use from patients exhibiting heart attack symptoms.
Data for this study was collected from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey which periodically gathers health and lifestyle information from a diverse sample of the American population.
By the 2015 to 2016 waves, almost 5% of all women were taking these supplements, in stark contrast to the mere 0.7% of men who reported similar usage.
Biotin Supplies and Deficiency
A diet rich in biotin could prevent conditions like brittle nails, hair loss, and skin rash caused by its deficiency. However, the U.S. National Institutes of Health stresses that these cases are rare and there is limited evidence that biotin supplements can benefit skin, hair or nails health.
Dr. Thorndike advises that a balanced diet is frequently a better nutrient source compared to pills. “I’d rather see people spending money on nutritious foods than supplements,” she says, highlighting the proven benefits of maintaining a healthy diet.
Food is more complex than a pill, offering the body a combination of not just vitamins and minerals, but also protein, fiber, fats, and plant compounds. Biotin-rich foods include liver, eggs, pork, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, and almonds.
Patients intending to take large biotin doses should always consult their medical practitioners ahead of any planned lab tests or when beginning high-dose supplements, especially if they are already on medications for health conditions as the pills could potentially interact with them.
For more details, you can visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s page on biotin.