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For people with hypothyroidism, finding an effective treatment plan can often be complex and challenging. One of the crucial pillars of health for thyroid patients is frequently the addition of essential nutrients. One nutrient, biotin, a water-soluble B vitamin, provides various potential benefits, including healthier skin, hair, and nails. In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of biotin for people with hypothyroidism.
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is a vital member of the B-vitamin family. It is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it dissolves in water after entering the body. There are nine water-soluble vitamins, including all the B vitamins and vitamin C. However, we cannot store large amounts of these vitamins for later use as we can with fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D, which are stored in fatty tissue.
Biotin plays a vital role in various biochemical processes within the human body, including converting food into energy and facilitating the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Biotin also serves as a cofactor for enzymes, particularly those involved with fatty acid synthesis and amino acid catabolism (the breaking down of amino acids, aka protein building blocks).
Biotin has been widely known for helping maintain skin, hair, and nail health, which is why you’ll often see it in many beauty-oriented supplements. Beyond its cosmetic benefits, biotin is crucial for maintaining healthy brain function and achieving cellular growth.
Biotin is integral to thyroid hormone production and function. One of biotin’s essential functions specific to people with hypothyroidism is its support of enzymes crucial for overall metabolism. Biotin is involved in the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, which are essential for providing the body with energy. Because biotin can help promote efficient metabolic processes, it can also help to reduce fatigue and unwanted weight gain, two common symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Research studies have shown a positive correlation between biotin supplementation and improved thyroid function in individuals with hypothyroidism. Biotin aids in producing T3 and T4, the two primary hormones produced by the thyroid gland. These hormones help regulate metabolism, energy production, and overall cellular function. By increasing biotin levels, individuals with hypothyroidism may experience improved thyroid hormone production and better management of their symptoms.
Furthermore, biotin has been found to support hair growth in individuals with thyroid conditions. Hair loss is a common symptom of hypothyroidism, and adding biotin to the diet may help promote healthy hair growth and prevent further hair loss. Biotin supplementation may also contribute to the strength and thickness of nails, which can become weak and brittle in individuals with hypothyroidism.
In hypothyroidism, the body may be less able to produce and use fatty acids properly. This usually leads to unfavorable lipid profiles, and for some people with hypothyroidism, it can contribute to symptoms such as dry skin and hair. Biotin’s ability to help metabolize fats can help reduce these symptoms.
While it is rare to be deficient in biotin, signs of deficiency appear gradually and over time. These signs can include:
- thinning hair
- a scaly red rash around body openings, including the eyes
- conjunctivitis (also referred to as pink eye)
- aciduria (high levels of acid in the urine)
- skin infection
- brittle nails
- developmental delay in infants.
Several groups of people are at a higher risk of being deficient in biotin. These include people with:
- biotinidase deficiency, a rare autosomal recessive disorder that prevents the body from releasing free biotin
- chronic alcohol exposure, as biotin concentrations can be 15% lower in those with chronic alcoholism
- pregnant or breastfeeding women, as biotin levels tend to decrease during lactation.
If you present with any of these symptoms or fall into any of these three categories, speak with your doctor about having your biotin levels checked before introducing any supplementation.
An adequate biotin intake from nutrition and supplementation, when needed, can help reduce these symptoms and promote optimal metabolic health, which simultaneously benefits the thyroid.
Even though the body cannot store biotin, bacteria in our intestines can make biotin. It is also available in small amounts in some foods. Incorporating biotin-rich foods into your diet can provide a natural way to boost your biotin intake. And because it is water-soluble, it is relatively safe to consume through dietary sources.
Foods containing biotin include (listed from highest concentration to lowest concentration of biotin):
- Beef liver
- Cooked eggs (Note: raw egg whites contain a protein called avidin that interferes with the body’s absorption of biotin)
- Pork chop
- Sunflower seeds
- Sweet potato
- Cheddar cheese
- Plain yogurt
While biotin is generally safe when consumed from foods and dietary sources, some risks and considerations are associated with biotin supplements. When researching biotin benefits for those with hypothyroidism, you will likely see mention of how biotin supplementation can interfere with thyroid lab results. It’s important to be aware of all factors, especially while using other treatments for health conditions such as hypothyroidism.
Biotin is one of the supplements that is best avoided leading up to a lab test, especially when measuring your thyroid hormone levels. Biotin supplementation can alter T3 and T4 levels on a blood test, resulting in falsely elevated or falsely lowered levels. It might also skew TSH levels, which can lead to an incorrect diagnosis of hyperthyroidism or an erroneous determination that the thyroid hormone dose being given is too high. It is recommended to stop taking biotin supplements at least two days before thyroid testing to avoid any misleading thyroid test results.
Biotin supplementation can also interact with other prescribed medications, including antiseizure medications such as carbamazepine and phenytoin, which may lower biotin levels in the body. Some antibiotics can be interfered with when taking biotin at the same time because of its impact on the gut flora.
As with any form of complementary medicine, biotin should not be seen as a stand-alone treatment for those with hypothyroid symptoms or diagnosed hypothyroidism. If you would benefit from taking biotin supplementation, it is highly recommended that you work with your doctor directly to ensure safe and appropriate usage.
Thyroid disease can be overwhelming, and the journey to achieving better health and well-being can be exhausting. Paloma Health makes it easy with comprehensive and personalized thyroid care, making it an ideal choice for hypothyroid patients. Paloma’s team of experienced thyroid experts and innovative virtual telemedicine features make Paloma a convenient way to access expert medical advice and tailored treatment plans for hypothyroidism. Start with our Paloma home thyroid test kit to evaluate thyroid levels, and consider a Paloma membership for your medical treatment and support from your care team. Paloma Health empowers you to take control of your health, leading to improved well-being, optimized hormone levels, and a better quality of life.