Many pregnant women are deficient in biotin, according to a 2009 article published in the "Journal of Nutrition." A biotin deficiency in adults can cause hair loss, facial rash, numbness, tingling, depression and hallucinations, but it might also contribute to birth defects in babies with mothers who are deficient in the vitamin, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Pregnant women need 30 micrograms of biotin each day, so discuss with your doctor dietary changes you can make or supplements you can add to your daily routine to reach that goal.
Biotin During Pregnancy
Your body breaks biotin down more quickly during pregnancy, which can cause a deficiency for many pregnant women. In fact, between one-third and one-half of all pregnant women experience a decline in biotin, according to the Linus Pauling Institute and the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." Biotin deficiency most likely occurs during late pregnancy. Taking biotin during pregnancy can help prevent that situation and is usually safe. It's essential, however, that you speak with your doctor before increasing your intake of biotin, especially from supplements.
Biotin and Birth Defects
Several studies suggest that biotin deficiency can cause birth defects in animals, but the same might be true for humans, as well. For example, studies done with mice suggest that biotin deficiency can cause cleft palate, cleft lip and skeletal deformities, the study published in the "Journal of Nutrition" notes. Skeletal deformities were also present in studies done with chickens. Though human studies proving that similar effects can happen with unborn babies are lacking, ensuring adequate biotin intake during pregnancy can help prevent these potential birth defects.
Food Sources of Biotin
One of the easiest ways to increase your biotin intake is to eat foods rich in the nutrient. These foods also supply many of the other nutrients you need to support a healthy pregnancy. Eggs are among the top sources. Cooking the eggs is key, however, because raw eggs can harbor contaminants that put your unborn baby in danger. Eating large amounts of raw egg whites is also associated with biotin deficiency, according to the MedlinePlus website. Liver, pork, salmon, avocado, raspberries, cheddar cheese and cauliflower are additional food sources of biotin.
Biotin Supplementation During Pregnancy
Speak with your doctor about biotin supplementation before adding the vitamin to your pregnancy diet. Though large doses of biotin aren't known to be toxic, according to the Linus Pauling Institute, it's always necessary to get approval to take anything while pregnant because many things pass through the placenta to your unborn baby. Always tell your doctor what other supplements and medications you're taking to prevent a potential interaction. Many prenatal multivitamins already contain biotin and your doctor will recommend what level, if any, of supplementation is right for you.
- Journal of Nutrition: Marginal Biotin Deficiency Is Common in Normal Human Pregnancy and Is Highly Teratogenic in Mice
- Linus Pauling Institute: Biotin
- MedlinePlus: Biotin
- Bastyr Center for Natural Health: Biotin Supplement Needed During Pregnancy
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Marginal Biotin Deficiency During Normal Pregnancy