Vitamin supplements are becoming more popular as people age to strengthen their ageing skin, hair, and nails.
However, a new study demonstrates how high doses of it can impair some critical medical tests.
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is a necessary nutrient. And, according to study author Danni Li, an associate professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at the University of Minnesota, the lower doses found in multivitamins pose no problem.
High doses of biotin, on the other hand, can cause falsely low results in a blood test that measures the protein troponin, which is used to detect heart attacks. The US Food and Drug Administration issued a safety alert on the subject in 2017.
However, it’s unclear how common high-dose biotin use is. So, using data from a long-running US health survey, Li and her colleagues investigated the question.
The researchers discovered that high-dose biotin supplements have risen in popularity in recent years from relative obscurity.
By 2016, about 3 percent of adults in the United States had used them. The researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Aug 11 that this was up from 0.1 percent in 1999 to 2000.
One milligramme (mg) of biotin per day or more was defined as high-dose biotin, which is many times more than the recommended dietary intake of 30 micrograms per day.
Overall, women were much more likely to use the supplements, according to Li. Over 7% of women aged 60 and older took at least 1 mg per day, with another 2% taking doses of 5 mg or more.
This is alarming because older people are more likely to have a heart attack, especially if they have conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes.
According to Thorndike, large doses of biotin should be avoided by people with heart attack risk factors. She also suggested that ER doctors be aware of the possibility of biotin interference and inquire about supplement use in patients with possible heart attack symptoms.
The findings are based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in the United States. It polls a nationally representative sample of Americans on their health and lifestyle habits on a regular basis.
Only a few people were taking high-dose biotin during 1999-2000. By 2015 to 2016, when the most recent data was available, just under 5% of all women and 0.7 percent of men were using the supplements.
A lack of biotin can lead to brittle nails, hair loss, and skin rashes. However, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the condition is rare, and there is little evidence that biotin supplements promote healthier skin, hair, and nails.
A well-balanced diet, according to Thorndike, is always a better source of nutrients than pills.
Food is more complex than a pill, providing the body with a variety of nutrients such as protein, fibre, fats, and plant compounds, as well as vitamins and minerals, according to Thorndike.
According to the National Institutes of Health, biotin can be found in liver, eggs, pork, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, and almonds.
People who choose to take high doses of biotin should tell their doctor ahead of time about any planned lab tests, according to Li. And, she added, it’s best to talk to a doctor before starting high-dose supplements, especially if you’re taking medication for a health condition. Medication and supplements may complicate things for your heart.