Biotin (vitamin B7) is vital for your skin, hair, nails, and overall health. Consuming organ meats, eggs, fish, meat, seeds, nuts, and certain vegetables help maintain the levels of biotin. If that fails, you can always rely on biotin supplements.
Though they are all considered safe, an overdose of these supplements can adversely affect your liver, skin, and homeostasis. However, there is insufficient evidence to prove these effects. 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). That’s why you should use them only on medical consent and in set dosage.
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 specific diagnostic tests (2). Tests that are used to quantify your hormone and vitamin levels (like thyroid and vitamin D tests) are common targets (3), (4).
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 (5).
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 (5).
2. May Cause Drug Interactions
Biotin can interact with certain medications like anticonvulsants (anti-seizure drugs) (6). 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 (7).
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.
Discuss with them if taking biotin supplements is recommended over dietary intake (1).
Remember: Low biotin levels send false signals of biotin deficiency when, in reality, your body is capable of absorbing biotin well. It is mostly 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 (8). Since there is almost no supporting literature, such cases stay shut.
These side effects might be alarming. Hence, stick to the dosage limits. Find out what the recommended dosage of biotin is in the next section.
How Much Biotin Is Safe And Recommended?
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. Thus, 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 (9).
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).
- Biotin, Micronutrient Information Center, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University.
- Association of Biotin Ingestion With Performance of Hormone and Nonhormone Assays in Healthy Adults, JAMA Network.
- Effect of High-dose Biotin on Thyroid Function Tests: Case Report and Literature Review, Cureus, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Biotin supplements and laboratory test results in neuropsychiatric practice and research, Indian Journal of Psychiatry, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- The FDA Warns that Biotin May Interfere with Lab Tests: FDA Safety Communication, Safety Communications, U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
- Impaired biotin status in anticonvulsant therapy. Annals of Neurology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Biotin transport in the human intestine: inhibition by anticonvulsant drugs. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Life-threatening eosinophilic pleuropericardial effusion related to vitamins B5 and H. The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Effect of MD1003 (High Doses of Biotin) in Progressive Multiple Sclerosis: Results of a Pivotal Phase III Randomized Double Blind Placebo Controlled Study (PL2.002), Neurology.
Swathi holds a Master’s degree in Biotechnology and has worked in places where actual science and research happen. Blending her love for writing with science, Swathi writes for Health and Wellness and simplifies complex topics for readers from all walks of life.And on the days she doesn’t write, she learns and performs Kathak, sings Carnatic music compositions, makes plans to travel, and obsesses over cleanliness.