Biotin Supplementation: What You Need to Know

One of the most popular “hair loss supplements” is biotin (B7). It’s nicknamed the “H” vitamin (German: Haar and Haut which means “hair and skin”) and has been shown to slow hair loss, prevent graying, and reduce brittleness. And benefit nail health to boot.

Biotin helps to make keratin, one of a group of fibrous structural proteins that not only generates hair and nails, but also claws, hooves, and horns. It seems like a powerhouse supplement—no wonder so many people take it!

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While it can be helpful, supplementing with biotin isn’t a panacea. As I’ve always said, reversing alopecia is an inside job and a biotin deficiency is rarely the sole reason why someone is experiencing inordinate hair loss or balding. There are typically many factors that need addressing.

Biotin has been shown to not be harmful in high doses. But there’s something critically important that you need to know about biotin supplementation—it can mimic Graves’ disease on lab values. Graves’ is autoimmune HYPERthyroidism.

It doesn’t mean that you have Graves’ disease. The biotin is skewing the lab values.

But it’s easy to get a Graves’/hyperthyroidism diagnosis if your doctor doesn’t know about this critical association. And many don’t know.

Often, people take biotin because of the hair loss from their LOW thyroid function, as hair loss is one of the hallmark symptoms of HYPOthyroidism. It’s like—What? How on earth could I have Graves’ when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and still have low thyroid symptoms?

This misinformation/misdiagnosis can have profound and devastating repercussions—especially in the face of low thyroid symptoms. Or a prior Hashimoto’s diagnosis. Attempting to treat the “overactive thyroid” is the exact opposite of what’s needed. A thyroid-slowing protocol for someone who’s already hypothyroid? Disasterous.

I’ve seen this several times with my clients and Reversing Alopecia course participants—they’ve been diagnosed with Graves’/hyperthyroidism, but symptomatically, they’re showing up with anything but. Indeed, much of the time, these folks are supplementing with biotin. 

You do not have to be taking a standalone biotin supplement for this phenomenon to take place. This photo from one of my clients shows the biotin dosing on a popular multi-vitamin—1666 percent of the % Daily Value! >>

One of my course participants, Julie, said, “Jill, you have been an answer to prayer. You have answered so many lingering questions about my journey with alopecia and my thyroid. I know from my research that people can swing from Graves’ to Hashimoto’s or vice versa, but I never once had a single hyper symptom. I’ve had all the classic symptoms of low thyroid function. But my doctor simply wouldn’t listen and tried to prescribe Methimazole for Graves’. I cried myself to sleep, I was so confused. Yes, I’d been taking biotin for several months. And sure enough, as soon as I stopped, my thyroid values were more in line with what they’d been previously, although better because of what I learned from you and your wonderful cookbook!”

Fortunately, lab values normalize after seven days with no biotin.

Rich food sources of Vitamin B7 include: tomatoes, almonds, eggs, onions, carrots, romaine lettuce, cauliflower, grass-fed beef, chicken, avocado, legumes, nuts, and potatoes.


Question - I am about a year post-baby and still taking prenatals (which have biotin, according to the packaging it has 10% of the daily value) as I had pretty strong post-partum hair loss.  Also, I have been diagnosed with Hashimoto's.  My thyroid meds were bumped up during my fertility treatments and pregnancy to stay in a very normal range but my values postpartum have skyrocketed so it looks like I am now HYPERthyroid.   I definitely don't FEEL hyperthyroid...much the opposite. I would have asked for a bump in meds. Could this be the problem? Obviously, I know I need to talk to my doctor but just curious of your thoughts.

What multi-vitamins do you recommend?

I prefer food-based multi-vitamins and multi-minerals. Brands that I like are MegaFood, Garden of Life, and Rainbow Light.

Are dr axe’s b complex good or not as good?

Hi, just wanted to share my experience with biotin. I caused my thyroid lab results to show hyper just like you said! I was told to stop my thyroid hormone and as I was experiencing racing heart and high blood pressure I took L-carnitine because it was supposed to help treat hyperthyroidism. Anyway I turned out to be very hypo instead, the biotin just hid that and I did myself a huge disservice stopping my medication and taking L-carnitine which further lowered my hormone level. It’s taken several months to feel somewhat normal and get my thyroid straightened out. The only way I figured out I was very hypo was to get a blood test done showing my free T4 and free T3 and they were way below range and that was what was causing my symptoms of racing heart and high blood pressure! My body was running on pure adrenaline because I had no thyroid hormone to run on. So listen to this article and just have awareness that if you take biotin you need more than just a TSH test to see how your thyroid is functioning. 

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