Be careful if you’re using high-dose biotin (vitamin B7). The biotin in your blood could lead to some false readings when you have that blood tested. The level of concern about this is high enough to warrant a warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
High doses of biotin are being sold over-the-counter as a substance to thicken hair and fingernails. It’s also being studied as a possible MS treatment.
Under the experimental name MD1003, high-dose vitamin B7 is being evaluated in a Phase 3 trial (NCT02220933) sponsored by MedDay. A report on the clinical trial presented at the joint ECTRIMS/ACTRIMS meeting Oct. 25-28 in Paris announced that the experimental treatment slowed or prevented further disease progression in people with progressive forms of MS.
Because of encouraging study reports, and its easy, over-the-counter availability, a number of MS patients have been giving it a try, hoping it will ease some of their symptoms. (One of our Multiple Sclerosis News Today columnists, Debbi Wilson, wrote about her experience with high-dose biotin last year.)
FDA warns of adverse events
If you’re using biotin, for whatever reason, take heed. In its warning, the FDA says:
“Biotin in blood or other samples taken from patients who are ingesting high levels of biotin in dietary supplements can cause clinically significant incorrect lab test results. The FDA has seen an increase in the number of reported adverse events, including one death, related to biotin interference with lab tests.”
As an example, the FDA points to a high dose of biotin resulting in a patient’s lab report that inaccurately showed a low level of troponin. Troponin is a substance in the blood that’s used to aid in the diagnosis of heart attacks. The death reported in the FDA’s warning followed a false troponin level report.
The FDA warning was issued following a B7 study conducted at the University of Minnesota Medical School. As reported in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, that study showed vitamin B7 also interfered with thyroid tests. People being treated with Lemtrada, a drug that is known to have an effect on the thyroid levels of some patients, should take particular note of this.
How high is too high?
It’s hard to say. The FDA says that many of the biotin supplements that promote hair, skin, and nail benefits contain up to 650 times the recommended daily allowance of the vitamin. The amount being used in the Phase 3 study is also significantly higher.
The FDA simply states, “Biotin levels higher than the recommended daily allowance may cause interference with lab tests.”
Here’s what the FDA is recommending
- Talk to your doctor if you are currently taking biotin or are considering adding biotin, or a supplement containing B7, to your diet.
- Know that biotin is found in multivitamins, including prenatal multivitamins, biotin supplements, and supplements for hair, skin, and nail growth in levels that may interfere with laboratory tests.
- Be aware that some supplements, particularly those labeled for hair, skin, and nail benefits, may have high levels of B7, which may not be clear from the name of the supplement.
- If you have had a lab test done and are concerned about the results, talk to your healthcare provider about the possibility of biotin interference.
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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.