Millions of people are taking biotin,1,2,3 but many may not be aware that biotin is part of their everyday vitamins and supplements, like multivitamins, prenatal vitamins, and supplements for hair, skin and nails. Some doctors may also perscribe biotin for certain clinical conditions.4
In a global survey, when people were asked if they are currently taking any dietary supplements or vitamins containing biotin, only 17% responded that they were taking biotin. Of the 17% who knew they were taking biotin, only 3% were aware of the issues with biotin interference and laboratory testing.5
Looking at biotin sales data and the global survey data, many people may be taking biotin without knowing it.1,5 And certainly, many people are not aware of how biotin can interfere with laboratory tests.5
Biotin is a vitamin, B7, with many health benefits. Although it can be obtained through your diet, it is also added to multivitamins and supplements. Biotin is not harmful and there are no known side effects from taking biotin. In fact, biotin is recommended to expectant mothers to take for fetal development and is commonly believed to improve hair, skin and nails.4,6
Biotin is known to interfere with some diagnostic laboratory tests. When blood samples with elevated levels of biotin are sent for laboratory tests that use the free biotin-streptavidin capture method, the results may not be accurate. Biotin interference with laboratory tests has resulted in misdiagnosis and mistreatment, and has been associated with at least one reported death.7
These scientific journal articles contain examples of how biotin has interfered with laboratory test results.8,9 If you are (or might be) taking biotin, you can read these articles for more information or share them with your doctor.New England Journal of Medicine Journal of the Endocrine Society
If you are taking biotin, your doctor may recommend delaying drawing your blood for laboratory tests, sending you home, and rescheduling once you have stopped taking biotin. This may mean another visit to have your blood drawn and the delay in testing may also delay your diagnosis and treatment.
Some studies have shown that biotin interference could last up to several days,10,11 and the FDA does not have enough data to make a recommendation on how long to wait, before drawing blood for laboratory tests, after stopping biotin consumption. Consult with your doctor about biotin interference.
In many emergency and urgent care situations, laboratory testing connot be delayed. That's why it is important to share if and how much biotin you are taking with the Emergency Department doctors who are treating you. This may help doctors interpret your test results.
Fortunately, not all laboratory testing methods are impacted by biotin interference. In certain circumstances, your doctor may be able to request a test that is biotin-interference-free, like those offered by Abbott. Consult with your doctor on your concerns about biotin interference and use the Conversation Guide as a resource when talking with your doctor.
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