What is it?
Biotin is commonly used for hair loss, brittle nails, nerve damage, and many other conditions.
How effective is it?
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for BIOTIN are as follows:
Likely effective for...
- Biotin deficiency. Taking biotin can help treat low blood levels of biotin. It can also prevent blood levels of biotin from becoming too low. Low blood levels of biotin can cause thinning of the hair and rash around the eyes, nose, and mouth. Other symptoms include depression, lack of interest, hallucinations, and tingling in the arms and legs. Low biotin levels can occur in people who are pregnant, who have had long-term tube feeding, who are malnourished, who have undergone rapid weight loss, or who have a specific inherited condition. Cigarette smoking might also cause low blood levels of biotin.
Possibly ineffective for...
- Skin rash in infants (seborrheic dermatitis). Taking biotin does not seem to help improve rash in infants.
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Hair loss. Taking biotin and zinc by mouth in addition to applying a steroid cream to the skin might help reduce hair loss.
- An inherited disorder called biotin-thiamine-responsive basal ganglia disease. People with this condition experience episodes of altered mental state and muscle problems. Early research shows that taking biotin plus thiamine does not prevent these episodes better than taking thiamine alone. But the combination might shorten how long the episodes last when they do occur.
- Brittle fingernails and toenails. Taking biotin by mouth for up to a year might increase the thickness of fingernails and toenails in people with brittle nails.
- Diabetes. Some early research shows that taking biotin along with chromium might lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. However, taking biotin alone doesn't seem to improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
- Diabetic nerve pain. Early research shows that taking biotin by mouth or receiving it as a shot might reduce nerve pain in the legs of people with diabetes.
- Muscle cramps related to dialysis. People receiving dialysis tend to have muscle cramps. Early research shows that taking biotin by mouth might reduce muscle cramps in these people.
- Multiple sclerosis. Early research shows that taking high-dose biotin might improve vision and reduce partial paralysis in some people with multiple sclerosis.
- Other conditions.
How does it work?
There isn't a good laboratory test for detecting low biotin levels, so this condition is usually identified by its symptoms, which include thinning of the hair (frequently with loss of hair color) and red scaly rash around the eyes, nose, and mouth. Other symptoms include depression, tiredness, hallucinations, and tingling of the arms and legs. There is some evidence that diabetes could cause low biotin levels.
Are there safety concerns?
Special precautions & warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Biotin is POSSIBLY SAFE when used in recommended amounts during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
Children: Biotin is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth and appropriately.
An inherited condition in which the body cannot process biotin (biotinidase deficiency): People with this condition might need extra biotin.
Kidney dialysis: People receiving kidney dialysis may need extra biotin. Check with your health care provider.
Smoking: People who smoke might have low biotin levels and may need a biotin supplement.
Laboratory tests: Taking biotin supplements might interfere with the results of many different blood lab tests. Biotin can cause falsely high or falsely low test results. This might lead to missed or incorrect diagnoses. Tell your doctor if you are taking biotin supplements, especially if you are having lab tests done as you may need to stop taking biotin before your blood test. Most multivitamins contain low doses of biotin, which are not likely to interfere with blood tests, but talk to your doctor to be sure.
Are there interactions with medications?
- Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1B1 (CYP1B1) substrates)
- Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Biotin might increase how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking biotin along with some medications that are changed by the liver might decrease the effects of some of these medications. Before taking biotin, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some of these medications that are changed by the liver include clozapine (Clozaril), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), fluvoxamine (Luvox), haloperidol (Haldol), imipramine (Tofranil), mexiletine (Mexitil), olanzapine (Zyprexa), pentazocine (Talwin), propranolol (Inderal), tacrine (Cognex), theophylline, zileuton (Zyflo), zolmitriptan (Zomig), and others.
Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?
- Alpha-lipoic acid
- Alpha-lipoic acid and biotin taken together can each reduce the body's absorption of the other.
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
- Biotin and vitamin B5 taken together can each reduce the body's absorption of the other.
Are there interactions with foods?
- Egg whites
- Raw egg white can bind to biotin in the intestine and keeps it from being absorbed. Eating 2 or more uncooked egg whites daily for several months has caused biotin deficiency that is serious enough to produce symptoms.
What dose is used?
- General: There is no recommended dietary allowance (RDA) established for biotin. The adequate intakes (AI) for biotin are 30 mcg for adults over 18 years and pregnant women, and 35 mcg for breast-feeding women.
- Biotin deficiency: Up to 10 mg daily has been used.
- General: There is no recommended dietary allowance (RDA) established for biotin. The adequate intakes (AI) for biotin are 7 mcg for infants 0-12 months, 8 mcg for children 1-3 years, 12 mcg for children 4-8 years, 20 mcg for children 9-13 years, and 25 mcg for adolescents 14-18 years.
- Biotin deficiency: Up to 10 mg daily has been used in infants.
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.
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