Biotin is a type of vitamin and popular supplement that's often touted to support hair, skin and nail health. And it may not be the only supplement in your roster, which is why it's important to know if taking other multivitamins with biotin is safe.
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But before we get into whether you can take hair, skin and nail vitamins with multivitamins and other supplements, perhaps you're wondering why to take biotin in the first place.
Biotin is another name for vitamin B7 (no, biotin is not a mineral), per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Here's what biotin does for your body: It helps you break down fuel and plays a role in regulating cell and gene activity.
The best way to get the nutrient is through your diet by eating biotin-rich foods like:
- Meat like beef liver and pork chops
- Fish like canned salmon and tuna
- Sunflower seeds
- Sweet potato
You can also take it in supplement form, typically to improve the health of your hair, skin and nails. However, there's little evidence to show taking biotin vitamins has this effect, except in the case of biotin deficiency, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
That's because a deficiency can cause thinning hair, scaly skin and brittle fingernails, so treating it may help with these symptoms. But cases of biotin deficiency are rare, per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), so most people won't experience those improvements.
The nutrient is safe to take every day, generally, because biotin is soluble in water, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. That means any extra biotin in your system is excreted in your urine, so it doesn't build up in your body and cause side effects.
Still, there are some considerations when it comes to biotin interactions with other vitamins. Here's whether you can take a multivitamin and your hair, skin and nails pill at the same time, or if it's best to take these vitamins without biotin.
Talk to your doctor before trying any supplement, as the FDA doesn't require these products to be proven safe or effective before they're sold, so there’s no guarantee that any supplement you take is safe, contains the ingredients it says it does or produces the effects it claims.
Biotin and Multivitamins
When there isn't enough evidence to establish a recommended daily allowance for nutrient needs of the general population, there is instead a suggested adequate intake (AI). The AI is the amount believed to cover the needs of most adults.
Per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the AI for biotin is:
- 30 mcg for adults and pregnant people
- 35 mcg for people who are lactating
Supplements can contain mega-doses of biotin that are hundreds of times higher than these AIs. For instance, July 2020 research in Cureus found that the doses of biotin in 176 different supplements ranged from 100 to 33,333 percent of the AI.
Many multivitamins also contain biotin, and the amounts can likewise vary significantly. So if you take a biotin supplement and a multivitamin with biotin, chances are you're getting a huge dose of the nutrient. Fortunately, this shouldn't cause health issues, as your body excretes extra biotin, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Still, there's little reason to take such high doses of the vitamin unless you have a deficiency and the doctor prescribes it, according to the NIH. Taking a multivitamin without biotin, for example, won't harm your hair, skin and nail health.
However, that does not mean there is no risk. Taking biotin above the AI can cause inaccurate results on some laboratory tests.
According to a June 2018 review in Cureus, doses of 15 milligrams (that's 15,000 micrograms) can cause statistically significant false high and low results on thyroid tests. These incorrect results could lead to misdiagnosis or incorrect treatment, both of which could have life-threatening risks.
Tell your doctor if you are taking biotin and need to have laboratory tests so that they can take the proper steps to verify accuracy of your results, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Biotin and B Vitamins
Now you know what the vitamin biotin does. And many of the other B vitamins play a similar role in the body — they work together to help you convert the food you eat into energy, according to the NLM. They also help make blood cells.
Biotin is one type of B vitamin. The others are:
- Thiamine (vitamin B1)
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- Niacin (vitamin B3)
- Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
- Vitamin B6
- Folate (vitamin B9)
- Cobalamin (vitamin B12)
There's no real harm in taking vitamin B complex and biotin together. The vitamins are water-soluble, so any excess is removed from your body when you pee, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
But this means there's no real benefit, either. Similar to taking biotin with a multivitamin, you may get an unnecessarily high dose of the nutrient.
The same goes for taking biotin and B12 together — there's no need to pick between biotin vs. B12, as both are part of the B complex and thus work together, according to the NLM.
While taking biotin, B12 and other B complex vitamins together shouldn't harm your health directly, it can cause those inaccurate lab results, which may result in an incorrect diagnosis or treatment plan, according to the June 2018 Cureus review. This mismanagement of your condition could result in health issues.
Can You Take Vitamin B12 and B Complex Together?
Biotin and Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a nutrient that supports your body's healing process and helps build blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and collagen, according to the Mayo Clinic. It's also an antioxidant that can help protect your cells from damage.
There are no known interactions between vitamin C and biotin, so it's OK to take them together. In fact, vitamin C is also water-soluble, so your body will eliminate any excess of either nutrient, per the Mayo Clinic.
That said, in addition to the risk for incorrect lab results from too much biotin, it's also possible to have side effects from high doses of vitamin C. Per the Mayo Clinic, these can include:
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Stomach cramps
- Fatigue and sleepiness
- Flushed skin
Biotin and Vitamin E
Similar to vitamin C, there are no known issues with taking vitamin E and biotin together.
However, it's important to talk to your doctor before taking vitamin E, as it may not be safe for people with the following conditions, per the Mayo Clinic:
- A vitamin K deficiency
- An eye condition that damages your retina
- Bleeding disorders
- A history of heart attack or stroke
- Head and neck cancer
- Liver disease
Biotin and Calcium
However, getting too much biotin can mess with lab test results, and this may include tests that check your calcium levels, according to an August 2019 report in Cureus.
This report only shared the test results of one person, though, so more research is needed to demonstrate the link between taking biotin and calcium-related test results.
While it should be fine to take biotin and calcium together, talk to your doctor before trying a calcium supplement to make sure it's right for you. Per the Mayo Clinic, it can be dangerous for people who have conditions that lead to high levels of calcium in the blood, for instance.
When Is the Best Time to Take Biotin?
There's not necessarily one right time to take biotin — typically, the best time to take vitamins is whenever is most convenient for your schedule, though it's usually recommended to eat them with a meal to avoid stomach irritation.
You can also work with your doctor to set a supplement schedule that works for you.
Biotin and Zinc
Zinc is mineral that helps support metabolism and immune system function, according to the Mayo Clinic. There are no known interactions between biotin and zinc: In fact, the two are often in hair, skin and nail supplements together.
But because the nutrients are frequently combined, check the labels on your products to make sure you're not getting mega-doses of either. Too much biotin can lead to those faulty test results, and, per the Mayo Clinic, too much zinc can lead to side effects like:
Biotin and Collagen
Collagen is a protein that gives elasticity and strength to your bones, connective tissue, skin and organs, according to the Mayo Clinic. You can take collagen and biotin together, as there are no reported problems with combining the two.
However, there's not much research to support either supplement for popular uses like hair, skin and nail strength, per the Mayo Clinic. Instead, it's better to get these nutrients (along with all of the aforementioned nutrients) from food.
For instance, get the amino acids that comprise collagen from foods like:
- Bone broth
- Unflavored gelatin
- Parmesan cheese
- Legumes like beans and lentils
- Soy products like tofu
Biotin and Prenatal Vitamins
First things first, can you take biotin while pregnant? Yes, biotin is safe during pregnancy, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
In fact, about a third of pregnant people have a biotin deficiency despite eating enough of the nutrient. If you show the following symptoms of a lack of biotin while pregnant, talk to your doctor about whether a supplement may help treat it:
- Thinning hair
- Scaly rash around your eyes, nose and mouth
- Brittle nails
Prenatal vitamins are designed for pregnant people to help both the parent and baby meet their nutritional needs, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Ingredients vary from product to product, but these pregnancy supplements typically contain:
- Folic acid (a type of B vitamin)
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin D
There are no reported problems with taking prenatal vitamins with biotin during pregnancy. In fact, some prenatal vitamins actually contain biotin, seeing as biotin is safe for pregnancy.
Whether you select a prenatal vitamin with or without biotin is up to you. However, it's important to note that it's not recommended to take both a prenatal vitamin that contains biotin and a biotin supplement without talking to your doctor first.
Not all prenatal vitamins are created equal — some contain a higher dose of one vitamin and a lower dose of another. Ask your doctor to help you pick a supplement that will meet your unique needs.
- National Institutes of Health: "Biotin"
- Cureus: "Effect of High-Dose Biotin on Thyroid Function Tests: Case Report and Literature Review"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Biotin"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Biotin – Vitamin B7"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: “FDA 101: Dietary Supplements”
- Cureus: "Safety Concerns of Skin, Hair and Nail Supplements in Retail Stores"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "B Vitamins"
- Mayo Clinic: "Vitamin B-12"
- Mayo Clinic: "Vitamin C"
- Mayo Clinic: "Is it possible to take too much vitamin C?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Vitamin E"
- Cureus: "Clinically Significant Lab Errors due to Vitamin B7 (Biotin) Supplementation: A Case Report Following a Recent FDA Warning"
- Mayo Clinic: "Calcium and calcium supplements: Achieving the right balance"
- Mayo Clinic: "Zinc"
- Mayo Clinic: "Mayo Clinic Q and A: Collagen and biotin supplements"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Expectant Moms: Choose a Prenatal Vitamin With These Key Nutrients"