8 Potential side effects to know before taking biotin supplements

While many people swear by biotin’s positive effects, it’s crucial to approach biotin supplementation with a well-informed perspective. 

This article aims to provide a clear overview of biotin, why many opt for its supplementation, and potential side effects that users should be aware of.  

As with any supplement, knowledge is power, and it’s essential to understand both the advantages and possible risks to make informed health decisions.

Why do people take biotin supplements?

Biotin, a part of the vitamin B family, plays several vital roles in our bodies. Many choose to take biotin supplements for various health reasons. Here are some of the most common:

Hair health

A primary reason people turn to biotin is its reputation for promoting hair growth and reducing hair loss. Many believe that regular biotin intake can lead to thicker, shinier hair [1].

Skin vitality

Biotin boosts skin health, potentially reducing dryness, flakiness, and redness. It may even help combat conditions like acne and eczema.

Nail strength

Brittle nails? Biotin might be the answer. Many users have reported stronger, less breakable nails after consistent biotin supplementation.

Metabolic functions

Biotin plays a role in converting food into energy. It aids several metabolic reactions [2], helping to keep our energy levels steady.

Neurological health

There’s growing interest in biotin’s potential role in maintaining a healthy nervous system. Some suggest it could help improve mood and memory.

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8 Side effects of taking biotin supplements

Biotin, like many supplements, comes with its share of pros and cons. While it boasts several benefits, it’s equally important to know its potential side effects. Here’s a breakdown of some of the issues you might encounter:

1. Allergic reactions

Some individuals might experience allergic reactions to biotin supplements. Typical symptoms include nausea, rashes, or swelling [3]. If you notice these signs after starting biotin, it’s advisable to stop the supplement and seek medical attention.

2. Skin issues

Contrary to its reputation for boosting skin health, biotin can sometimes lead to acne and breakouts, especially around the chin and jawline for some users.

3. Gastrointestinal disturbances

Digestive discomfort, including nausea, cramping, or diarrhea, can occasionally occur with biotin supplementation.

4. Lab test interference

An often overlooked side effect, biotin can skew the results of certain blood tests [4]. This can lead to misinterpretations, such as false positives or negatives. If you’re undergoing medical tests, it’s a good idea to inform the technician about your biotin intake.

5. High biotin levels

Just because biotin is a vitamin doesn’t mean more is always better. Consuming excessive amounts might lead to imbalances in the body, affecting other vitamins and minerals.

6. Medication interactions

Biotin can interfere with the effectiveness of some medications, especially certain anticonvulsants and heart drugs [5]. Always discuss any supplements with your doctor if you’re on medication.

7. Sleep issues

Insomnia, or the inability to sleep, can lead to serious illness. Excessive biotin intake at night can cause a surge of energy [6], making it difficult to sleep. It is best to take biotin supplements in the morning to avoid insomnia.

8. Increased thirst and urination

In rare cases, excessive biotin can lead to symptoms linked to kidney function, like thirst and frequent urination.

How much biotin intake is too much?

Biotin, while beneficial in appropriate doses, can pose concerns if consumed excessively. Understanding the recommended daily allowances and the potential threshold for “too much” is crucial.

Recommended daily allowance (RDA)

The RDA for biotin varies based on age, gender, and certain conditions like pregnancy. Here’s a brief overview [5]:

  • Infants (0-11 months): 5 to 6 mcg/day
  • Children (1-8 years): 8 to 12 mcg/day
  • Adolescents (9-18 years): 20 to 25 mcg/day
  • Adults: 30 mcg/day
  • Pregnant women: 30 mcg/day
  • Breastfeeding women: 35 mcg/day

Upper limits

There isn’t a well-established “upper limit” for biotin since it’s water-soluble, and the body excretes excess amounts. However, very high doses, such as those over 2,500 mcg/day, may lead to some of the side effects mentioned earlier.

Supplement consideration

It’s essential to consider the biotin you might already receive from your diet when calculating your total intake. Foods like eggs, organ meats, almonds, and legumes naturally contain biotin [7].

To avoid the potential pitfalls of over-supplementation, always be aware of the total amount you’re ingesting, both from your diet and supplements. 

And, as a golden rule, discussing your biotin intake with a healthcare expert can help you stay within safe and beneficial limits.

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Is biotin overdose possible?

While biotin is celebrated for its numerous health benefits, there’s a lingering question among many: Is it possible to overdose on this vitamin? Here’s what you need to know:

1. Water-soluble nature

Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning the body can excrete excess amounts through urine. This makes it difficult to accumulate in harmful levels.

2. Common misconception

Just because there’s a lack of severe overdose cases doesn’t mean it’s wise to consume biotin recklessly. Large doses might still lead to the side effects we’ve discussed, like skin issues or interactions with medications.

3. Caution in supplementation

While it’s hard to overdose in the traditional sense, it’s always prudent to adhere to recommended dosages. Moreover, considering biotin from food sources in your total intake is crucial.

The risk of a severe overdose on biotin appears to be low but maintaining a moderate and informed approach to its consumption ensures that you reap its benefits without unexpected drawbacks. 

Always consult a healthcare professional if you need more clarification about the correct dosage for your needs.

What to do if you take too much biotin?

Accidentally consuming a higher dose of biotin than intended can be a cause for concern for many. If you find yourself in this situation, here’s a guide on what to do next:

1. Stay calm

First and foremost, don’t panic. Given biotin’s water-soluble nature, your body is designed to flush out excess via urine.

2. Monitor for symptoms

Be observant of unusual symptoms, such as skin issues, digestive discomfort, or allergic reactions like itching or swelling. If any of these symptoms appear, seek medical advice promptly.

3. Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water to help your body naturally eliminate the surplus biotin more efficiently.

4. Avoid further supplementation

Skip your biotin supplement for the day or a few days, depending on the excess amount consumed. This will give your body a chance to reset.

5. Consult with a healthcare professional

It’s always a smart move to inform your doctor or another medical professional about the accidental excessive intake. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.

Remember, while biotin’s risk profile is relatively low, being informed and proactive ensures you maintain optimal health and well-being, even if you have a minor slip-up.

skin rashes
Phtoograph: jeannierv/Envato

Who should take biotin and who shouldn’t?

Biotin, like all supplements, might be beneficial for some but not suitable for everyone. Let’s explore who should consider taking biotin and who might need to be cautious:

Good candidates for biotin

  • Those looking to enhance the health and appearance of their hair, skin, and nails might benefit from biotin supplementation.
  • Individuals seeking to optimize their energy metabolism can consider biotin.
  • Anyone looking into improving mood or memory might find biotin valuable.

Those who need to be cautious

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers: Though biotin is essential during these periods, it’s crucial to stick to recommended doses and consult a healthcare professional.
  • People on medication: Biotin might interact with some medications, including anticonvulsants and heart drugs. Always consult with a doctor before mixing supplements and medications.
  • Those with allergies: If you’ve previously had allergic reactions to supplements, be watchful when trying biotin for the first time.
  • Frequent lab test takers: Since biotin can interfere with certain blood tests, those who frequently get tested should be aware and might want to inform their medical technician.

What should you avoid while taking biotin?

If you’re taking biotin supplements, there are certain things you might want to avoid to ensure you’re getting the maximum benefits. Here’s a concise guide:

1. Alcohol

Consuming alcohol can lower biotin levels in the body and reduce its absorption [8]. Moderating alcohol intake or avoiding it can be wise when supplementing with biotin.

2. Raw egg whites

These contain a protein called avidin, which binds to biotin and prevents its absorption [9]. If you’re a fan of raw egg dishes, you might want to rethink them during your supplementation period.

3. Certain medications

Some drugs can interfere with biotin absorption or metabolism. This includes antiseizure medications and certain antibiotics. Always consult with a healthcare professional if you’re on prescribed drugs.

Closing thoughts

Biotin is a valuable ally for many seeking to enhance their hair, skin, and nails, among other benefits. As with any supplement, knowledge is vital. 

Whether you’re curious about its benefits, potential side effects, recommended dosages, or what to avoid while taking it, being well-informed ensures you make the most out of biotin supplementation. 

Always consult with healthcare professionals, especially when combining biotin with other medications or if you have specific health concerns. 

With a balanced approach, biotin can be a productive addition to your health and wellness routine. Stay informed, stay safe, and let biotin work its magic for you.

FAQs

Who is most at risk for biotin?

Those most at risk for biotin deficiency include pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, individuals consuming raw egg whites regularly, and those on certain medications like antiseizure drugs and antibiotics.

Can you take biotin if you have high blood pressure?

Biotin is generally safe for individuals with high blood pressure, but it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any new supplements.

What is the safest amount of biotin to take daily?

The recommended daily biotin intake varies by age and gender, but for adults, it’s typically around 30 micrograms per day. However, always consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice before starting supplementation.

Can I take biotin with other vitamins?

Yes, biotin can be taken in combination with other vitamins, and it’s often found in multivitamin formulations. However, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure no contraindications with specific combinations.

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[1] https://www.treatmentroomslondon.com/hair-loss/biotin-supplements-for-hair-loss-and-thinning/ 
[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10846444/ 
[3] https://www.fastmed.com/health-resources/biotin-side-effects/ 
[4] https://www.testing.com/articles/biotin-affects-some-blood-test-results/ 
[5] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Biotin-HealthProfessional/ 
[6] https://www.livestrong.com/article/353466-side-effects-of-biotin-5000-mg/ 
[7] https://www.geisinger.org/health-and-wellness/wellness-articles/2022/07/27/18/20/biotin-foods 
[8] https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpgi.00465.2010 
[9] https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/biotin-deficiency 

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The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.