Biotin, also known as B7, is a water-soluble vitamin found in foods such as eggs, milk, and bananas. Biotin is involved in a wide range of metabolic processes primarily related to the utilization of fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids. It also influences cell growth and may help in maintaining blood sugar levels. Biotin is commonly supplemented for multiple conditions, such as hair loss, brittle nails, and nerve damage. Biotin is also thought to reduce inflammation, improve cognitive function, and increase HDL (good) cholesterol and decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol. It is rare to be deficient in biotin since only a small amount is needed to function properly. However, it is possible. Unlike other vitamin deficiency screenings, there isn’t a good laboratory test for detecting low biotin levels. Therefore, biotin deficiency is best identified by symptoms. These symptoms include thinning hair, a red, scaly rash around the nose, eyes, and mouth, depression, tiredness, hallucinations, and tingling of the arms and legs.
Biotin is indicated in those with low biotin levels. Other conditions, such as skin rashes in infants, brittle nails, thinning hair, diabetes, or nerve pain have also been treated with biotin, but there is no research in its effectiveness.
Although most who take biotin supplements do not experience any adverse effects, some minor effects such as nausea, cramping, and diarrhea can occur.
There are no contraindications for biotin.
Taking certain medications can lower your blood levels of biotin. Some of these medications include:
- – Carbamazepine
- – Phenobarbital
- – Phenytoin
- – Primidone
Although there are no risks in adding biotin to your diet or regimen, it is always important to check with your doctor before adding any new supplementation to your routine. Since biotin is water-soluble, any extra in your body flushes out through the urine, so overdose is highly unlikely. If you develop any unusual or unexpected rashes, see your doctor as this may be signs of an overdose. In this case, dosages will need to be adjusted.
Make sure to bring a list of medications, supplements, and products you are currently taking. Always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions, and be sure to ask any questions you may have regarding any new treatments.