You may have noticed something new the last time you shopped online or visited the supplements section of your drugstore – a number of supplements offering "longer hair and thicker nails.” At the center of this recent trend is biotin, a B-complex vitamin (also called vitamin B7) that plays an important role in cell growth and food metabolism. However, at higher doses, biotin could be throwing off a number of lab test results, including those for thyroid disease and heart attack.
In the past few years, many vitamins and supplements have emerged promising to deliver the best hair, skin and nails of your life in just one nutrient-filled bite. These supplements are loaded with what some believe are good-for-your-hair-and-nails ingredients, including one of the B-complex vitamins – biotin.
Like the rest of the B-complex vitamins biotin plays an important role in cell growth and food metabolism. Between diet and supplements, the Institute of Medicine recommends that people 19 years and older get 30 micrograms (mcg) of biotin daily.1 Most people get the biotin they need from eating a healthy diet, but there’s growing evidence that suggests that biotin supplements may help regulate your blood sugar, promote healthy hair, skin and nails, and help pregnant moms have healthier babies. Biotin is also being recommended in higher doses by some doctors for conditions such as cancer, diabetes, dermatitis and multiple sclerosis.2,3,4
What You Might Not Know about Biotin
If you take vitamins or herbal supplements, you may already know that these products may interact—sometimes harmfully—with other medications. When taking biotin supplements, what you may not realize is that at higher doses, they can also affect the results of some important laboratory blood tests.
Certain types of lab tests may use biotin and another protein called streptavidin to generate test results. If you take a biotin supplement, it can produce "false-positive" or "false-negative" lab test results, which may lead to misdiagnoses or unnecessary treatments for heart disease, thyroid conditions, breast cancer, pregnancy and fertility.
The good news is that not all brands of lab tests are affected by biotin. Because Abbott's tests do not rely on biotin and streptavidin to generate a result, those test results are not affected.
So what can you do? Talk to your doctor about biotin and any other vitamins and supplements you're taking. Since not all brands of diagnostic tests are affected, the lab can opt to use a brand of lab test that isn’t affected by biotin.
Want to learn more about biotin?
Watch these videos for more information:
Video: What can you do?
Video: What do you need to know about biotin?
1. Vitamins & Supplements: Biotin. WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/supplement-guide-biotin.
2. Zempleni J, Kuroishi T. Biotin. Advances in Nutrition. 2012; 3:213-214.
3. Combs GF. Biotin. In: Combs, GF. The Vitamins: Fundamental Aspects in Nutrition and Health. San Diego, CA: Elsevier, Inc.; 2008: 331-344.
4. Saint Paul LP, Debruyne D, Bernard D, Mock DM and Defer GL. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of MD1003 (high-dose biotin) in the treatment of progressive multiple sclerosis; Expert Opinion on Drug Metabolism & Toxicology. 2016; 12:(3), 327-344.
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