Biotin Deficiency Overview
Biotin deficiency is normally characterized by the alopecia and squamous erythematous dermatitis dispersed around the body orifices, acidemia, aciduria, hearing and vision problems, and developmental delay in children. Biotin deficiency can also cause paresthesia, myalgia, and mild depression. Biotin deficiency can have adverse effects on the immune system and lipid metabolism.
Overt biotin deficiency is rare. However, as discussed above, prolonged consumption of raw eggs can cause biotin deficiency because raw egg white contains an antimicrobial protein known as avidin that binds strongly to biotin and prevents its absorption. In adults and adolescents who chronically consume raw egg white, the next symptoms may grow due to egg white injury syndrome:
- Hair thinning, often with loss of hair colour.
- Skin rash described as seborrheic and eczematous.
- Depression, lethargy, hallucinations, and paraesthesia of the limits.
Pregnancy can cause subclinical biotin deficiency in healthy women since rapidly dividing cells of the developing fetus need biotin for the synthesis of essential biotin-dependent carboxylases and also for histone biotinylation. Around 50% of pregnant women have abnormally increased urinary excretion of 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid, likely shiny decreased activity of the biotin-dependent enzyme 3-methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase. Mock et al. likened the concentrations of biotin and its metabolites, as well as 3-hydroxyiosvaleric acid in 13 urine samples, got from pregnant women (during early and late pregnancy) with those of urine samples got from 12 non-pregnant women and observed that during early pregnancy, biotin excretion was not meaningfully different from controls, but 3-hydroxyvaleric acid excretion increased relative to controls. From the beginning to the end of pregnancy, biotin excretion decreased in 10 out of 13 women; at the end of pregnancy, biotin excretion was lower than normal in 6 women.
During the last stage of pregnancy, 3-hydroxisovaleric acid levels remained significantly elevated in the urine of pregnant women compared to controls. Though serum biotin concentrations were significantly higher than those of panels during early pregnancy, serum biotin levels in pregnant women decreased in each woman studied from early to late pregnancy.
Causes of biotin deficiency
Biotin deficiency is quite rare. Doctors often look for one of six possible causes to explain why your B-7 levels may be so low. These causes are:
Certain medications can prevent your body from absorbing vitamins properly. These medications include antibiotics and anticonvulsants. Also, antibiotics destroy the good bacteria in your gut that can produce biotin naturally.
- Intravenous (IV) feeding
If you receive your nutrition through an IV or tube, you may develop a B-7 deficiency. You may need to take supplements until you can return to solid foods.
- Bowel problems
Some chronic intestinal conditions can prevent your body from absorbing nutrients from food. These conditions include Crohn’s disease and colitis.
- Long-term diet
A strict diet can prevent you from getting a wide variety of vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat. Eating a well-balanced diet is vital to your health, and you can still maintain or lose weight if that is your goal.
- Biotinidase deficiency
This inherited disorder is very rare. It prevents your body from reusing biotin. Generally, the human body can reuse B-7 several times before it is disposed of as waste. People with this disorder cannot recycle vitamin. This disorder is often diagnosed very early in life due to severe symptoms. These symptoms usually appear months after birth.
- Other genetic causes
There are a few other genetic disorders that can also result in biotin deficiency, including holocarboxylase synthetase deficiency, biotin transport deficiency, and phenylketonuria. Holocarboxylase synthetase deficiency and biotin transport deficiency are extremely rare. Phenylketonuria is more common. Babies are screened at birth for this condition, as it is associated with serious neurological problems if it is not recognized and treated early.
Symptoms of biotin deficiency
The symptoms of biotin deficiency start gradually and can build up over time. Symptoms can include hair thinning, progressing to hair loss all over the body, and a red, scaly rash around the body openings, including the eyes, nose, mouth, and anus. Conjunctivitis can also develop.
Adults with biotin deficiency can suffer:
- Skin infections.
- Brittle nails.
- Neurological problems such as depression, lethargy, hallucinations, and paresthesia (pins and needles) in the extremities.
The symptoms of biotin deficiency can be confused with many other disorders or problems. Your physician may first treat your symptoms as if they were from an additional cause. If your symptoms don’t go away, your doctor may consider other possible problems.
If your doctor suspects that you are not getting enough B-7, a blood test can measure the level in your blood. Your physician may order added blood and lab tests to check other levels. They can use these numbers to confirm or rule out a biotin deficiency.
Sometimes low levels of vitamin B-7 are the result of another disorder or condition. If your doctor thinks that an underlying problem could be causing your symptoms, he or she may suggest other tests to find out the reason for low vitamin B-7 levels.
Treatment for biotin deficiency
Although the symptoms of BTD can go away with medical assistance, a person may need to take biotin for the rest of their life. Multivitamins and biotin supplements are available without a prescription or online. However, a balanced diet is considered the best source of vitamin B.
The recommended daily intake for an adult is 30 micrograms (mcg), while the recommended intake for a child is 5 mcg per day. Pregnant women must aim for 35 mcg per day. People should speak with their doctor before taking a biotin supplement. Biotin can be present in prenatal or adult vitamins, and there can be dangers in taking high doses.
Anyone who suspects that they may have a deficiency is encouraged to speak with their healthcare team.
Good sources of biotin include:
- Boiled eggs, the yolk in particular
- Walnuts, particularly almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and walnuts
- Nut butter
- Legumes, including soybeans, beans, black peas
- Whole grains
It is important to note that some food processing techniques can destroy biotin. It’s also worth noting that raw egg whites contain a protein called avidin that interferes with how the body absorbs biotin.
Biotin supplements are often promoted for healthy hair, skin, and nails, but there is little evidence to show that they are effective.
Biotin supplements can cause problems if you eat too much. Side effects can contain skin rashes, digestive upset, problems with insulin release, and kidney problems.
According to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, biotin treatment was said to interfere with laboratory tests and mimic Graves’ disease 2 As with any supplement, the safety of long-term use is unknown or in high doses.