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Posted November 9, 2019

Biotin Supplements Can Cause False Lab Test Results

On November 5, 2019, the FDA reminded consumers and health care providers that high amounts of biotin (vitamin B-7), found in many supplements, can significantly interfere with certain lab tests and cause incorrect results that may go undetected.

Lab tests that can be affected by biotin include certain thyroid hormone tests, and tests for troponin, a clinically important biomarker used to help diagnose heart attacks. False test results can lead to incorrect medical diagnosis, unnecessary treatment, or lack of needed medical treatment. In fact, the FDA has received a report of one death that occurred after biotin interference caused falsely low troponin test results. (See the Biotin section of ConsumerLab's B Vitamin Supplements Review for more about biotin interference with lab tests).

The FDA stated that the daily recommended allowance for biotin is 0.03 mg and "that amount does not typically cause interference in lab tests." However, supplements often contain much higher amounts. The agency noted that many supplements contain 20 mg of biotin, and some contain up to 100 mg of biotin per pill, with recommendations to take multiple pills per day. (As noted in the Biotin section of ConsumerLab's B Vitamin Supplements Review, a single, 10 mg dose of biotin has been shown to interfere with thyroid hormone lab tests). In particular, supplements sold as hair, skin and nail growth formulas often contain very high amounts of biotin.

The FDA advised consumers to talk to their physician if they take biotin supplements. They also recommend that people who have had a lab test done and are concerned about the results talk to their health care provider about the possibility of biotin interference.

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