The FDA recently warned that biotin, which is the main ingredient in vitamins that helps to grow hair and nails, can interfere with certain lab tests. Too much biotin may cause incorrect test results, which can lead to undetected health conditions. To find out more about what this means and the unexpected effects of biotin (aka vitamin B7), we tapped Dr. Lamees Hamdan, CEO and founder of drinkable multivitamin, DL.MD.
Vitamins v. Lab Tests
According to Dr. Hamdan, there are many vitamins and/or herbal supplements that can interfere with lab tests. “It’s not only biotin,” she says, noting that’s why it’s key to disclose all the supplements you’re taking with your healthcare provider. Since there’s a nutraceutical for everything from stress to skin, it’s all too common to double-up on vitamins that contain biotin – but how do you determine when your vitamin regimen crosses the line from helpful to overkill.
Less is More
“I personally feel that 100% of RDA (recommended daily allowance) is enough biotin for us, there is no need for your supplement to contain more than that,” says Dr. Hamdan. “The majority of people get enough biotin from their diet, so I have never recommended mega doses of biotin – it is simply unnecessary. Having said that, there are no known cases of biotin toxicity,” she adds.
Although there’s some grey area around how much biotin is ideal, especially if your hair is not growing properly, Dr. Hamdan notes that anything over 100% of the RDA is not needed because most people are usually not deficient in this vitamin. “Biotin works synergistically (i.e. is much more effectively) with vitamins B2, B6, niacin, and A in maintaining healthy hair and skin, so a good multivitamin (that is well absorbed) is what I recommend to see benefits in taking biotin.” She suggests her DL.MD Multivitamin 13.5.1 because “it contains 100% Biotin, along with its vitamin ‘friends’ and has an absorption rate of 98%,” she explains.
Natural Sources of Biotin
If you’d rather skip on vitamins altogether and try to increase your biotin levels through your diet, Dr. Hamdan suggests eating beef, liver, egg yolk, soy, flour, cauliflower, cheese, brewer’s yeast, milk, peanut butter, salmon, spinach and brown rice, which are all-natural sources of biotin.
For anyone concerned that their biotin or vitamin intake might interfere with lab results or have other adverse effects, it’s best to go under dose rather than over as she notes that biotin should be taken in micro amounts. “More is not necessarily better or more effective for you,” she cautions. “What is more important is the absorption rate of your vitamin (pills and gummies have absorption rates of 3-20%); biotin is a case in point,” she stresses. Before taking a lab test or when visiting the doctor, make sure to mention any herbs or supplements you take to avoid any potential issues.