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Home > Learn > Postpartum > >Can You Take Biotin While Breastfeeding?

Can You Take Biotin While Breastfeeding?

Nov 01, 23 9 min

Originally published 01/04/2023. Updated for accuracy and relevancy on 11/01/2023.

By OBGYN and fertility specialist Dr Kenosha Gleaton

Your body goes through many changes during and after pregnancy, and your hair is no exception. It’s common for many people to experience thick and full hair during pregnancy, only to see an increase in hair loss and thinning after giving birth. [1] There are many supplements on the market that claim to support hair health, but can you really trust them? Let’s look into biotin, what it can and can’t do, and if it’s safe to take while breastfeeding. 

What’s Biotin?

Biotin, also known as B7, is a naturally occurring vitamin necessary for metabolizing, cell signaling, and cell regulating. [2] In other words, biotin is one of the nutrients responsible for the breakdown and use of food and nutrients in the body, and cells' abilities to divide, repair, communicate, and process information. [2] Without enough biotin in the diet, it’s possible to experience brittle nails, skin rashes, and thinning hair. Biotin is obtained through many foods, including milk, eggs, avocados, salmon, nuts, grains, mushrooms, and more. [2] Biotin is often seen in supplements marketed for hair and skin health, alongside collagen. Learn more about B vitamins. 

What Does Biotin Do?

Biotin is a vital nutrient for overall health and should be consumed through a regular diet. Supplementation may also be beneficial for anyone who wants an added boost of biotin in their daily routine!

Breaking Down Nutrients and Supporting Heart Health 

Biotin is an important nutrient for cardiovascular health! Biotin intake was shown to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in diabetic patients, as well as help regulate blood sugar and support the metabolism of glucose and fatty acids. [3-4] The breaking down of nutrients is an essential step of metabolism, which keeps the body functioning properly. 

Hair, Skin, and Nails

Biotin is also an important part of hair, skin, and nail health. A double-blind study found that daily oral supplements containing biotin, collagen, and vitamin D, resulted in hair growth, skin hydration, elasticity, and repairing brittle nails. [5-6] Biotin deficiencies, while rare, can also cause hair thinning and skin rashes. [2]   Read about Biotin vs Collagen. 

Fetal Development

Biotin also supports pregnancy through healthy fetal development. [7] Cellular function and growth rely on biotin both in the womb and out. Pregnancy also puts someone at a higher risk of biotin deficiency, so it’s common to see biotin added into prenatal vitamins to support a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. [8-9] 

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Is Biotin Good for Hair?

It’s true that biotin is necessary for hair growth, however there is limited data to support that biotin supplementation will have many effects on hair growth for the general population. There are some groups that are more susceptible to biotin deficiencies as well as increased hair loss, and this includes those pregnant or breastfeeding. [8,10]

It’s common to see thick and full hair during pregnancy that begins to shed and thin after giving birth. This is due to the rise and fall in hormones, and is known as telogen effluvium (TE). TE is a condition characterized by a decrease in growing hair follicles, leading to thinning hair and hair loss, and is commonly experienced among postpartum and lactating women. [11] A comparative evaluation of biotin’s effects on TE was favorable, showing that supplementation can be very beneficial for the regrowth of hair. [12] 

Tips for Postpartum Hair Loss

In addition to biotin supplementation, there are some things you can try to limit hair loss and encourage growth:

  • Loose hairstyles: Wear your hair down or in a loose style as often as possible. Adding tension to hair by styling it in ponytails or other up-dos may increase breakage and contribute to hair loss.
  • Stimulate your scalp: Your scalp likes to be massaged, and it encourages hair growth! [13] Using a tool or your fingers to gently massage your roots while shampooing can help stimulate your follicles and lead to hair growth. 
  • Avoid dyes and bleach: Harsh chemicals found in hair bleach and dyes should be avoided if you’re wanting to encourage hair growth. [14] 
  • Give it time: It’s frustrating having to live with hairloss, but the good news is that postpartum hair loss almost always resolves on it’s own. Your body has been through a lot of changes in the past nine or so months, so treat yourself to some self-care and give it time, your hair should restore itself before too long. 

Read more about postnatal hair loss →

Risks of Biotin

Biotin is considered a safe supplement and is a naturally occurring nutrient found in many foods, but there are two risks you should be aware of:

Interference With Lab Results

There are few risks associated with biotin intake, however it is important to note that there are potential complications with lab results when taking high doses of biotin. A 2017 warning from the FDA detailed the effects of biotin supplements on laboratory blood testing. [15] In high amounts, biotin may impact the results of hormone tests, including vitamin D, troponin, and thyroid-stimulating hormone. [15] This can lead to misdiagnosing or unnecessary treatments, so it’s important to tell your healthcare provider about any vitamins or supplements you’re taking to ensure you receive the best, most effective care. 

Side Effects

Other than impacting lab results, risks of biotin are very minor and include potential mild side effects. These may include nausea, upset stomach, or skin breakouts. [1] 

Is Biotin Safe to Consume While Breastfeeding?

There are a few groups that are the most likely to suffer from inadequate or deficient biotin levels, including pregnant and breastfeeding women. [1] Marginal biotin deficiency is developed in a third of pregnancies, even with normal biotin intake. [1] It’s recommended by multiple sources that breastfeeding and pregnant patients include an adequate amount of biotin (at least 30 to 35 μg/d) into their daily routine to avoid negative effects of deficiency, including hair loss, brittle nails, and skin rashes. [15-16] 

It is important to note that biotin-only supplements will usually contain higher doses in order to treat biotin deficiency hair, skin, and nail complications, so make sure you’re checking the dosage of your biotin supplement and talking with your healthcare provider before use. 

All this to say, yes, biotin is generally considered safe for breastfeeding. [1] However, you should always ask your healthcare provider before adding any new vitamins or supplements into your diet. 

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Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Provider

If you’re concerned about getting enough nutrients while breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about adding in a postnatal supplement to your routine. If you’re experiencing hair loss, brittle nails, skin rashes, or any other concerning symptoms, notify your healthcare provider and ask for their recommendations. Biotin has been deemed safe for consumption, but high amounts may not be right for everybody. If you need more support or information on breastfeeding, check out the rest of the Natalist blog. 

Key Takeaways

  • Biotin is a B-vitamin that is naturally occuring.
  • Biotin is found in foods such as egg, salmon, dairy, avocados, grains, nuts, and more.
  • Biotin supports health through cellular signaling, cellular regulation, breaking down nutrients, and maintaining healthy hair, nails, and skin. 
  • Pregnancy and lactation put someone at a higher risk of biotin deficiency, which is correlated to an increase in hair loss and hair thinning.
  • Biotin deficiency is rare, but can result in brittle nails, skin rashes, and hair loss.
  • A rise and fall in estrogen is typically the cause of hair loss postpartum and is a condition known as telogen effluvium (TE).
  • High amounts of biotin through supplementation may result in inaccurate lab results and minor side effects such as upset stomach, nausea, and acne. 
  • Biotin supplementation is recommended to pregnant and breastfeeding women to ensure adequate biotin levels in both mom and baby.
  • Be sure to ask your healthcare provider before you begin taking any supplements, and always report the supplements you are taking to prevent inaccurate lab reporting. 

References:

  1. Grymowicz M, Rudnicka E, Podfigurna A, et al. Hormonal Effects on Hair Follicles. Int J Mol Sci. 2020;21(15):5342. Published 2020 Jul 28. doi:10.3390/ijms21155342
  2. Biotin Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. NIH. January 10, 2022. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Biotin-HealthProfessional/
  3. Revilla-Monsalve C, Zendejas-Ruiz I, Islas-Andrade S, et al. Biotin supplementation reduces plasma triacylglycerol and VLDL in type 2 diabetic patients and in nondiabetic subjects with hypertriglyceridemia. Biomed Pharmacother. 2006;60(4):182-185. doi:10.1016/j.biopha.2006.03.005
  4. Fernandez-Mejia C. Pharmacological effects of biotin. J Nutr Biochem. 2005;16(7):424-427. doi:10.1016/j.jnutbio.2005.03.018
  5. Glynis A. A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Evaluating the Efficacy of an Oral Supplement in Women with Self-perceived Thinning Hair. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2012;5(11):28-34.
  6. Lassus A, Jeskanen L, Happonen HP, Santalahti J. Imedeen for the treatment of degenerated skin in females. J Int Med Res. 1991;19(2):147-152. doi:10.1177/030006059101900208
  7. Mantagos S, Malamitsi-Puchner A, Antsaklis A, Livaniou E, Evangelatos G, Ithakissios DS. Biotin plasma levels of the human fetus. Biol Neonate. 1998;74(1):72-74. doi:10.1159/000014012
  8. Mock DM, Quirk JG, Mock NI. Marginal biotin deficiency during normal pregnancy. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;75(2):295-299. doi:10.1093/ajcn/75.2.295
  9. Ichihara Y, Suga K, Fukui M, et al. Serum biotin level during pregnancy is associated with fetal growth and preterm delivery. J Med Invest. 2020;67(1.2):170-173. doi:10.2152/jmi.67.170
  10. Postpartum Hair Loss. Cleveland Clinic. June 13 2022. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/23297-postpartum-hair-loss
  11. Newlin, Erica. How To Deal With Hair Loss After Pregnancy. June 24 2022. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/postpartum-hair-loss/
  12. Sant'Anna Addor FA, Donato LC, Melo CSA. Comparative evaluation between two nutritional supplements in the improvement of telogen effluvium. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2018;11:431-436. Published 2018 Sep 10. doi:10.2147/CCID.S173082
  13. Koyama T, Kobayashi K, Hama T, Murakami K, Ogawa R. Standardized Scalp Massage Results in Increased Hair Thickness by Inducing Stretching Forces to Dermal Papilla Cells in the Subcutaneous Tissue. Eplasty. 2016;16:e8. Published 2016 Jan 25.
  14. Dias MFRG, Loures AF, Ekelem C. Hair Cosmetics for the Hair Loss Patient. Indian J Plast Surg. 2021;54(4):507-513. Published 2021 Dec 27. doi:10.1055/s-0041-1739241
  15. Biotin – Vitamin B7. Harvard Nutrition Source. March 2023. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/biotin-vitamin-b7/
  16. Perry CA, West AA, Gayle A, et al. Pregnancy and lactation alter biomarkers of biotin metabolism in women consuming a controlled diet. J Nutr. 2014;144(12):1977-1984. doi:10.3945/jn.114.194472
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