What happens when you take too much biotin? Here’s what to know, according to experts

Facts checked by Nick Blackmer

  • Biotin is a B vitamin that is involved in metabolism and can be beneficial for skin, hair and nails.

  • Some over-the-counter biotin supplements exceed the recommended daily allowance of the micronutrient, but experts note that this is rarely a cause for concern.

  • Experts recommend that people who are concerned about their biotin intake speak with a trusted healthcare professional.

Getting enough biotin is important, but is it possible to get too much?

Originally called vitamin H, biotin has been recognized as a micronutrient since 1927. Since then, the vitamin quickly became a popular dietary supplement.

And the use of the supplement still seems to be on the rise. According to a 2020 study, the prevalence of biotin use increased from 0.1% of the US adult population in 19992000 to 2.8% in 20152016.

Biotin is best known for its beneficial effects on the skin, and an adequate intake (30 micrograms per day for adults) supports other areas of health as well.

Meeting your biotin needs is important for hair health, hormone health, and metabolism, says Vanessa King, MS, RDN, chief clinical nutritionist at The Queens Health System in Honolulu, Hawaii, and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Health.

While biotin intake is worth prioritizing, there is a chance that too much of a good thing can happen.

Here’s how much biotin is needed and the side effects of consuming too much.

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What is biotin?

Despite its original H name, biotin is a B vitamin. Now it is also used as vitamin B7.

It is a cofactor for several enzymes involved in the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. In other words, it helps the body convert food into energy.

In addition to metabolic effects, biotin has been studied for its possible effects on skin health and hair growth.

King explained that biotin deficiency is associated with rashes, hair loss and brittle nails.

Some studies have shown that increased biotin intake can have a significant effect on people with these health problems.

For example, a 2017 study of 18 people found that biotin helped improve hair and nail growth.

However, some experts say there isn’t enough research to prove a link between biotin and healthier hair and nails.

I don’t recommend regular biotin supplementation for patients with hair loss, said Anthony Rossi, MD, a dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Health. Most studies have shown no benefit from biotin supplementation unless someone has a lab-proven biotin deficiency.

According to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, only case reports, not studies, have supported claims that biotin supplements promote hair and skin health.

Related: The 8 Best Eyelash Growth Serums to Increase and Lengthen Your Look

Who can benefit from biotin supplements

While studies may not have shown a link between biotin and stronger nails, skin, and hair, B7 supplements may still be worth a try.

Anecdotal reports indicate that some people experience benefits in these areas, said Reid Maclellan, MD, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and founder and CEO of the dermatology app Cortina. Health.

Although there is no evidence to support the claim that taking biotin helps improve the health or overall appearance of hair, nails, and growth, some people have had success with nail or hair growth after taking biotin. supplement, he said.

Biotin deficiency is another reason why you may need to turn to supplements.

There is such a thing as biotin deficiency, but it’s not common, Maclellan said. This deficiency is most common in pregnant women, when alcohol intake is high, in smokers and during malnutrition.

Bacterial imbalances in the digestive tract caused by antibiotics or inflammatory bowel disease can also predispose people to biotin deficiency, Rossi said.

Too much biotin can cause unwanted side effects

The recommended daily intake of biotin is 30 micrograms, but many over-the-counter supplements exceed this level.

For example, NOW Foods’ extra-strength biotin capsules contain 10,000 micrograms, and Pure Research’s liquid biotin drops offer a whopping 20,000 micrograms per serving.

So are such high levels dangerous?

In general, no. There is no established upper limit of toxicity for biotin, in part because the body flushes out what it cannot use.

It’s hard to consume too much biotin from supplements because it’s a water-soluble vitamin, and if you consume too much, it’s excreted in the urine, Maclellan said.

On the other hand, that doesn’t mean that there are no side effects from overdosing on biotin.

Maclellan explained that some people report nausea or gastrointestinal disturbances, and sleep disturbances or dehydration may also occur.

According to King, very high biotin supplementation can also interfere with the results of certain lab tests, such as thyroid and troponin.

Related: The 8 Best Vitamins for Healthy Hair Growth According to Experts

How to get enough biotin in your diet

Most people can get enough biotin from a varied diet.

A surprising variety of both plant and animal foods contain this nutrient.

King recommends focusing on the following to ensure your intake is adequate:

If you’re concerned that your diet isn’t providing you with the biotin you need, talk to your doctor or registered dietitian about supplementing.

While they may recommend a supplement to help you reach your daily 30 micrograms, you may not need or even be able to use the very high amounts of many commercial supplements.

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