Why should patients be worried about Biotin?

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You may be taking biotin without even knowing it...

Biotin is a vitamin with many health benefits and as such, is added to multivitamins and supplements. Although it can be obtained through your diet, its usage as a supplement has grown rapidly over the last few years due to its benefits for healthier hair, skin and nails.1,2,3

Is Biotin Harmful?

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No, biotin is not harmful and there are no known side effects from taking biotin. In fact, biotin is recommended for expectant mothers to take for fetal development and is commonly used by the public for healthier hair, nails and skin. 4,5

Why are physicians and laboratorians worried about laboratory tests?

Biotin is a key component of the biotin-streptavidin method that is used by many laboratory tests today. Problems may occur when these tests are performed on a patient who is taking biotin supplements. These supplements raise the level of biotin in the patient’s blood which may interfere with the ability of the test to perform properly.  

There are recent published reports of patient misdiagnosis due to biotin interference:

  • November 2017: FDA Safety Alerts for Human Medical Products: Biotin (Vitamin B7): Safety Communication - May Interfere with Laboratory Tests7
  • August 2016: New England Journal of Medicine: Biotin Treatment Mimicking Graves’ Disease
  • January 2016: Thyroid Month: Beware of Biotin, Endocrine News

The growing trend of biotin users (in the millions) is making laboratories alert to the increased risk of test interference. 

What should I do?

Inform your doctor if you are taking biotin and alert them that this could interfere with certain blood tests. Ask your doctor to make sure that the tests ordered are performed on diagnostic products that are not impacted by biotin.

Skipping your daily biotin supplement before your test does not guarantee that results will be accurate. Biotin has been known to remain in your system for up to several weeks, and can still impact results6

Below is a link to a discussion guide you can take to your physician regarding your biotin usage and laboratory tests. 

Conversation Guide

  1. Nielsen FDM Data Ending 03/26/16
  2. https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=biotin
  3. Google analytics: September 2016
  4. Zempleni J, Kuroishi T. Biotin. Adv Nutr. 2012;3:213-214
  5. Combs GF. Biotin. In: Combs, GF. The Vitamins: Fundamental Aspects in Nutrition and Health. San Diego, CA: Elsevier, Inc.; 2008: 331-3
  6. Grimsey, Paul; Frey, Nicolas; Population pharmacokinetics of exogenous biotin and the relationship between biotin serum levels and in vitro immunoassay interference; Int. J. Pharmacokinet. (2017) 2(4), 247–256
  7. Food and Drug Administration: Biotin (Vitamin 7): Safety Communication- May interfere with Lab tests (November 28th 2017) https://www.fda.gov/medicaldevices/safety/alertsandnotices/ucm586505.htm 
  8. Kummer, S. NEJM August 2016: Biotin Treatment Mimicking Graves’ Disease.
  9. Saint Paul LP, Debruyne D, Bernard D, Mock DM and Defer GL. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of MD1003 (high-dose biotin) in the treatment of progressive multiple sclerosis, 2016; Expert Opinion on Drug.
  10. Fernandez-Mejia,  C. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 16 (2205) 424-427.
  11. Seaborg, E. January 2016: Thyroid Month: Beware of Biotin, Endocrine News, 2016. 
  12. Paxton A.  Beauty fad’s ugly downside: test interference.  CAP Today, September 20, 2016.

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