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All You Need To Know About Biotin Deficiency: Symptoms, Early Signes, Causes, And More

UPGUYS > Blog > Hair > All You Need To Know About Biotin Deficiency: Symptoms, Early Signes, Causes, and More
The person who wrote this article

Written by the UPGUYS Editorial Team
Published on March 07, 2022

As discussed further down, biotin is a B vitamin that breaks down food (fat, protein, and carbohydrates) and converts them into energy. 

Biotin deficiency can cause problems for your body, but usually, a healthy person with a balanced diet does not suffer from it. Read this article to learn more about biotin and biotin deficiency, its symptoms, causes, and side effects.

In this article:

  1. What's biotin
  2. Biotin deficiency: Definition
  3. Biotin deficiency: Side effects & symptoms
  4. Biotin deficiency: Causes
  5. Biotin deficiency: How is it diagnosed?
  6. Biotin deficiency: Who's at risk?
  7. Biotin deficiency: Treatment and prevention
  8. Get help
  9. Key takeaways

What's Biotin

Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin. It means that biotin is neither stored nor produced in our bodies. However, a bacteria called intestinal flora can produce biotin in your gut. 

Biotin is from the B complex family, and it converts fats and carbohydrates to energy. Biotin is also known as B-7, vitamin H, or coenzyme R.

Biotin is necessary to produce keratin, which is crucial for strong hair and nail. Biotin is also good for a healthy nervous system. Furthermore, it helps regulate LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood sugar. 

Biotin Deficiency: Definition 

Biotin deficiency is generally very rare. If you are healthy and eat nutritious food, it's improbable to have a biotin deficiency. However, it can be seen in patients with a short gut or malabsorption. Taking antibiotics, too, can cause biotin deficiency.

Biotin Deficiency: Side Effects & Symptoms

As mentioned earlier, biotin deficiency is very rare. A healthy person with a well-balanced diet does not show symptoms of this deficiency. 

But still, it happens under certain conditions. The following are the most common side effects and symptoms of biotin deficiency:

  1. seizures
  2. skin infections
  3. hair loss
  4. brittle nails
  5. brittle hair
  6. depression
  7. hallucinations
  8. the feeling of pins and needles in the extremities
  9. red rashes on the skin, especially the face
  10. dry or scaly skin
  11. dry eyes
  12. fatigue
  13. insomnia 
  14. loss of appetite
  15. nausea
  16. burning sensation in the hands and feet
  17. muscle pain
  18. frequent upset stomach
  19. cracking in the corners of the mouth
  20. difficulty walking

Biotin Deficiency: Causes

There are a couple of things that can cause biotin deficiency:

  1. Medication interaction: Some medicines, like antibiotics and anti-seizure pills, might prevent your gut from absorbing biotin and, therefore, cause deficiency. Antibiotics might even destroy the bacteria that produce biotin as well. Consult your doctor to get more information.
  2. IV-feeding patients: Patients who receive food via tubes might be good candidates to receive biotin since it is harder to absorb food with tubes.
  3. Extreme or long-term dieting: People who diet for long times and do not incorporate healthy nutrients into their diet to lose weight faster might also suffer from biotin deficiency. If you are planning to lose weight, remember to have a well-balanced diet and exercise. You will get to your goal in time and safely.
  4. Biotinidase deficiency: This deficiency is typically diagnosed in the first few months a baby is born because of the severe symptoms. This deficiency prevents the body from recycling B-7. Biotin can normally be used several times in our body, and babies with this deficiency cannot do that.
  5. Intestinal Problems: Some chronic intestinal conditions do not let nutrients be absorbed in our bodies as well. These conditions include Crohn's disease and colitis.
  6. Other groups of people: Other groups, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and individuals with excessive alcohol drinking, also suffer from a lack of biotin in their bodies.

Biotin Deficiency: How Is It Diagnosed?

Since biotin deficiency is very rare, it might not be the first diagnosis of your doctor. If the symptoms persist, your doctor might order blood work to rule out biotin deficiency.

Sometimes, low levels of vitamin B-7 (biotin) happen for other deficiencies other than biotin. Your doctor might ask for more blood work to decide what has caused low levels of B-7 in your body.

Biotin Deficiency: Who's at Risk?

Generally speaking, people with health conditions that stop their bodies from absorbing vitamins and nutrients are at risk of biotin deficiency.

People with biotinidase deficiency (BTD), as discussed earlier, are at the biggest risk of biotin disorder. BTD is a rare inherited disorder where the body is incapable of absorbing biotin. 

This disorder shows its symptoms the first few weeks and months after birth. Some of the most common signs are:

  1. weak muscles
  2. seizures
  3. alopecia or hair loss
  4. eczema
  5. developmental delay
  6. red eye
  7. hearing loss
  8. drowsiness
  9. periods of unconsciousness
  10. vomiting
  11. diarrhea
  12. fungal infections

Very rarely, children with BTD suffer:

  1. hepatomegaly or enlarged liver
  2. splenomegaly or (enlarged spleen)
  3. speech problems

If not treated, BTD can be fatal.

As mentioned above, pregnant and breastfeeding women, IV-feeding patients, patients who take antibiotics and anti-seizure medications, and people with chronic alcohol drinking problems are also at risk of developing biotin deficiency.

Biotin Deficiency: Treatment and Prevention

There are two major ways to address and treat biotin deficiency. One is taking this vitamin by incorporating food that has B-7 in your diet. The other is taking biotin supplements.


Biotin can be easily added to your diet by very common foods:

  1. green peas, legumes, and lentils
  2. sunflower seeds and sunflower butter
  3. carrots, cauliflower, and mushrooms
  4. cooked eggs, especially egg yolk
  5. organ meats, including liver and kidney
  6. dairy products, including milk, cheese, and yogurt
  7. seafood
  8. whole grains, including barley and corn

The food you consume should be fresh. Avoid processed food, as it ruins biotin and other nutrients. 


Biotin is available as a single supplement or in multivitamins. Biotin supplements come in different amounts: 10, 50, and 100 mcg. You need to consult with your doctor to see which fits your physical needs.

Get Help

If you think you are suffering from the same symptoms, most common of all, hair loss, consult with your doctor to make sure the B-7 level in your body is as it should be.

You can be a massive help to your doctor in reaching a decision. Keep a journal of what you eat and when you eat. Write down the symptoms, like thinning hair. This will help your physician to rule out different causes and decide if you need treatment for biotin deficiency or not.

The good news is that biotin deficiency is treatable. You can change your diet, have more nutritious foods, or take biotin supplements. 

If all these don't help, your doctor will order more blood work and do more examinations to see if it is due to intestinal problems or something else.

Key Takeaways

Biotin, or vitamin B-7, is an essential vitamin that breaks down food and transforms it into energy. Although biotin is not stored in our bodies, we rarely face biotin deficiency. 

Biotin exists in lots of natural foods, and by respecting a well-balanced diet, we can have enough of this vitamin in our bodies. There are also supplements, individual or multivitamins, containing daily biotin intake. 

In rare cases of biotin deficiency, there are symptoms and signs to observe. Biotin deficiency can easily be treated. But if not treated, it can be fatal. Some of the side effects of this deficiency are seizure, hair loss, eczema, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women, IV-feeding patients, individuals with excessive alcohol drinking problems, and infants with biotinidase deficiency (BTD) are at high risk of biotin deficiency.

If you keep a journal of what you eat and what symptoms you are experiencing, you can help your doctor reach a better decision.

The treatment of biotin deficiency is very easy. It is with a change in your diet or taking a supplement. In cases where these treatments don't help, your doctor can do more tests and examinations to rule out possible diseases and diagnose the condition that causes your symptoms.

This article is written for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information provided in the articles cannot and should not replace advice from a healthcare professional. Talk to your healthcare provider about any physical or mental health concerns or the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.