Too many of us fail to get the vitamins and nutrients we need until after we start noticing problems in our bodies. Because the signs of a biotin deficiency tend to manifest gradually, we may not notice we’re lacking this vitamin until the symptoms become more aggressive and difficult to reverse. That’s why we need to stay proactive when it comes to ensuring our biotin levels are healthy.
A blood test is the most effective way to determine if your body is experiencing a biotin deficiency. Some signs that may indicate a deficiency are thinning hair or a skin rash.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about biotin deficiencies - what they are, what causes them, and how we can fix them. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can stay on top of your Biotin (B7) levels, stay tuned.
What is a biotin deficiency?
Biotin, or vitamin B7, is a nutrient our body needs to support the health of our hair, skin, and nails.
When our body isn’t consuming high doses of vitamin B7 necessary to metabolize fats, carbs, and proteins, we don’t get to experience biotin benefits.
One study from 2016 found that 38% of female respondents suffering from hair loss had a biotin deficiency. Another study testing on animals found that biotin is required for zinc homeostasis in the skin.
These studies speak to the importance of biotin in our bodies to maintain the proper growth and function of our hair, skin, and nails.
Signs you may have a biotin deficiency
There are some signs of a biotin deficiency we can look out for to help determine if our B7 levels are lacking. Biotin deficiency signs and symptoms include:
- Hair loss
- Thinning hair
- Skin inflammation
- Red rash
- Weak brittle nails
- Dry eyes
If you’re suffering from any of these symptoms, it’s important to figure out whether or not a biotin deficiency is a culprit. So how do we do this?
How to test for a biotin deficiency
If you are experiencing any signs of a biotin deficiency, it may be time to get your vitamin B7 levels tested.
The simplest and most effective way to get tested for a biotin deficiency is via a blood or urine test from your doctor.
A healthy individual’s concentration of biotin is 133–329 pmol/L in blood and 18–127 nmol/24 hours in urine. Lower amounts would indicate a biotin deficiency.
If the results of this test indicate a biotin deficiency, the next step involves figuring out the potential causes and remedies of these lower biotin levels.
What causes low biotin levels?
There are a couple of explanations as to why our bodies may be deficient in biotin. These include:
Biotinidase deficiency, or BTD, is the most common cause of a biotin deficiency. This disorder is caused by a mutation in the BTD gene, affecting our body’s capability to use biotin. While biotinidase deficiency or partial biotinidase deficiency is rare, it can be one explanation for lower biotin levels.
Lack of biotin in our diets
Our body lacks the ability to produce biotin on its own, meaning we need to obtain it from outside sources. If we aren’t consuming a well-balanced diet with foods rich in vitamin B7, we may experience and suffer from the side effects of a biotin deficiency.
How to fix a biotin deficiency
Anyone suffering from long-term BTD must be seen and treated by a doctor. This treatment generally includes adding an extra intake of vitamin B7 through the consumption of biotin supplements. Supplements, which generally come in the form of a capsule, are a great way for anyone to monitor exactly how much of a vitamin they are consuming.
Those experiencing a biotin deficiency not from a disorder but as a result of their diet can also use a biotin vitamin supplement to increase their intake of vitamin B7. But many first turn to incorporating more biotin-rich foods into their diet, some of which include:
- Egg yolks
- Nuts and seeds
- Sweet potatoes
While the symptoms of a biotin deficiency may sound scary, there’s no need to worry - getting our biotin levels tested is an easy method we can take advantage of to find out if our bodies are consuming enough B7.
So if you’re experiencing signs of a deficiency or simply wish to be proactive about your health, eating a balanced diet and getting tested regularly is a great way to ensure your body has the vitamins it needs to function at optimal capacity.
For more information about the beneficial effects of biotin, check out our other articles:
- Trüeb R. M. (2016). Serum Biotin Levels in Women Complaining of Hair Loss. International journal of trichology, 8(2), 73–77. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-7753.188040
- Ogawa, Y., Kinoshita, M., Sato, T., Shimada, S., & Kawamura, T. (2019). Biotin Is Required for the Zinc Homeostasis in the Skin. Nutrients, 11(4), 919. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11040919