Biotin for Hair and Nails: A Waste of Your Time?

Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is found in food like egg yolks, nuts, and grain. It is also a common supplement taken by folks to improve the quality of their hair and nails. But there are some drawbacks to biotin supplements. Not only may it not work, but it can also cause problems with lab tests. Here’s the rundown on biotin supplements.

It works for nails

Biotin may help for brittle nails. Studies show that taking 2.5 mg (2500 mcg) tablets daily may lead to some improvement in nail firmness, hardness, and thickness. In one study, over half of the folks taking biotin 2.5 mg a day had a 25% increase in thickness of their nails.

But it may not work for hair

Surprisingly, there is inconclusive evidence to support the benefit of biotin for any skin condition or improving hair.

And it interferes with lab tests

The FDA released warnings in 2017 suggesting that Biotin may interfere with the results of troponin testing. Troponin is a protein released into the bloodstream during a heart attack. So, if you are having chest pain, and a Troponin blood test is done in the ER, it may be falsely low because of biotin.

Biotin may also interfere with Thyroid hormone blood tests. Studies in adults have shown that taking 5-10 mg of Biotin per day for 7 days results in falsely lowered levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone. What? This means that taking biotin may lead to you being falsely diagnosed with hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid.

Maybe don’t bother?

Dr O.

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