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Is It Safe To Give Biotin To Children?

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Biotin (vitamin H or vitamin B7) is a water-soluble B group vitamin, which plays a crucial role in various metabolic processes, such as the utilization of amino acids, carbohydrates, and fats in the human body. Children can receive biotin from dietary sources. However, a pediatrician may prescribe biotin supplements in some cases.

Read this post to know why children need biotin, the use of supplements, their health risks, dosage, and dietary sources of biotin for kids.

Why Is Biotin Needed For Kids?

Dietary intake of biotin can provide the following benefits to your child (1).

  • Plays a role in energy production
  • Promotes hair growth
  • Helps in maintaining healthy skin and nails
  • Decreases inflammation
  • Supports brain functions

Biotin is also known for reducing blood sugar levels in diabetic patients and lowering bad cholesterol. However, these benefits are most relevant for adults than children.

Dietary intake of biotin can meet the requirements for most kids. Biotin supplements are popularly used for treating or preventing hair loss, hair thinning, hair shaft damages, brittle nails, and skin. However, there is not enough scientific evidence to prove these abilities.

Natural Sources Of Biotin

Biotin is present in some amounts in most foods. Biotin-rich foods include (2):

  • Meat and organ meat (liver)
  • Cooked eggs
  • Yeast
  • Bread
  • Whole-wheat
  • Salmon
  • Raspberries
  • Banana
  • Fish
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Milk and other dairy products

Cooked eggs are a rich source of biotin. The presence of avidin, a glycoprotein in raw egg whites, prevents the absorption of biotin in the digestive tract. Therefore, it is best to serve cooked eggs instead of raw eggs to children to avoid biotin deficiency.

Food processing, such as canning, may also decrease the amount of biotin in foods. However, cooking is not shown to reduce the content of biotin in foods (3).

Recommended Dietary Allowance

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is the daily intake to meet sufficient nutritional requirements in healthy people. However, there is inadequate data to establish RDA of biotin (4). Therefore, an adequate intake (AI) is recommended.

The AI of biotin in micrograms per day for children of various age groups is as following (5).

AgeAdequate intake (AI) (mcg/day)
1-3 years8
4-8 years12
9-13 years20
14-18 years25
19 years and older30

Sources: National Institutes of Health and Oregon State University

Breastfed infants receive biotin from breast milk and infant formulas. If you wish to provide biotin supplements to a baby, then speak to a pediatrician.

Risks And Causes Of Biotin Deficiency In Children

Biotin deficiency is rare. A severe lack of biotin has never been reported in healthy individuals consuming a mixed diet.

There might be a risk of biotin deficiency in the following cases (5):

  • Parenteral (intravenous) nutrition support without biotin
  • Anticonvulsant medications
  • Chronic liver diseases
  • Prolonged oral antibiotic therapies

Along with these factors, inborn errors of metabolism that are hereditary or genetic disorders in which the body cannot turn food into energy can also cause biotin deficiency. Examples of disorders that could lead to biotin deficiency are as following (5).

  • Biotinidase deficiency: This is a secondary deficiency of biotin, resulting in decreased intestinal biotin absorption due to a lack of the enzyme biotinidase in the body. The healthcare provider may prescribe oral 5-10mg of biotin supplement to cope with biotinidase deficiency.
  • Holocarboxylase synthetase deficiency (HCS): Reduction in holocarboxylase makes the body unable to use vitamin biotin efficiently. High doses of vitamin B7, around 10-80mg/day, is recommended for this deficiency.
  • Biotin transport deficiency: Defects in human sodium-dependent multivitamin transporter (hSMVT) protein could affect biotin transport. Children with this deficiency may require higher doses of vitamin supplements.
  • Phenylketonuria (PKU): Increased phenylalanine amino acids in PKU patients’ blood may inhibit biotinidase. Children with this condition are likely to benefit from a low protein diet rather than biotin supplements.

Signs And Symptoms Of Biotin Deficiency In Kids

The signs and symptoms of biotin deficiency may include (6):

  • Hair loss and hair thinning
  • Brittle nails (onychorrhexis)
  • Red scaly rashes around mouth, nose, eyes or in the perineum
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Lack of energy
  • Paresthesia (prickling or burning) in hands and legs
  • Developmental delay in babies
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Fungal infections, especially candidiasis

Biotin deficiency may cause fat deposits in the face known as “biotin deficiency faces.” Aciduria (increased acids in the urine) and keto lactic acidosis due to increased lactate production and reduced clearance can also be the results of biotin deficiency.

Do Children Need Biotin Supplements?

Biotin deficiency is rare, and supplementation is not often required. Most dietary guidelines recommend meeting nutritional biotin needs through food sources. Therefore, most children may not require biotin supplementation.

If you find any symptoms of vitamin deficiency, take your child to a doctor. They may prescribe biotin supplements if necessary. Biotin supplements can be a single nutrient supplement or multivitamin-mineral supplement (MVM). 30mcg of biotin is present in most of the MVM supplements. However, kids may require lower levels of supplementation (5).

Biotin for kids is usually available as tablets or capsules. Oral and topical (creams or solutions for external use) biotin is available in brand names including, Appearex, Meribin, Nail-ex, and Genadur.

Biotin supplements for kids are available as chewable treats, such as gummy vitamins (chewable vitamins). Therefore, store them away from kids as the supplements taste like candies, and children might get tempted to have them in more than the prescribed quantity.

Safe Biotin Dosage For Children

The doctor will prescribe a safe biotin dosage depending on the child’s age, weight, and the requirements.

Capsules or tablets can be taken to prevent deficiency. The dosage for oral route biotin may depend on daily dietary intakes. For the treatment of biotin deficiency, the dose is decided based on the severity of deficiency.

Storage Of Biotin Supplements

You may store biotin supplements at room temperature, away from direct light, heat, and moisture. Store them in a closed container and away from the child’s reach. Do not refrigerate B7 vitamin supplements. Throw away the outdated supplements to avoid accidental intakes (7).

What If You Miss A Dose Of Biotin?

If your child misses a biotin dose, then you may give them as soon as possible. If it is near the next dose (less than 12 hours away), then you may skip the missed dose to avoid double dosing and continue with their regular dose plan (7).

Missing biotin supplements for a few days may not cause any harm since it takes more time for the body to deplete biotin. However, if your child is on the prescription of a biotin supplement due to any health condition, then you may stick to a regular schedule to avoid consequences.

Side Effects Of Biotin Supplements

You may seek emergency medical care if you notice any allergic reactions in your child after consuming biotin supplements. Signs of an allergic reaction include breathing trouble, lip, mouth, tongue, or facial swelling, and skin hives.

You may call the pediatrician if your kid has stomach upset or diarrhea related to the side effects of vitamin supplements.

Overdose Of Biotin Supplements

Biotin overdose is rare since it is a water-soluble vitamin that can be excreted through urine.

Vitamin B7 toxicity

Excessive storage of vitamins in the body may cause toxic symptoms, and this condition is called hypervitaminosis. Dietary intake from natural food sources may not result in vitamin toxicities. However, it may occur due to excess intake of vitamin-fortified foods and supplements.

Water-soluble B vitamin and vitamin C toxicities are rare compared to fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). However, high dose supplements and fortified food with high amounts may lead to hypervitaminosis.

The following can be seen in biotin toxicity (abnormally high storage of biotin in the body).

  • False lab results: Excess biotin levels may interfere with laboratory results using biotin-streptavidin technology. This may give incorrect high or low measurements on examinations. Thyroid hormone and calcifediol (vitamin D prehormone) are often changed on lab analysis due to the high intake of the vitamin biotin. It may eventually show false results of hyperthyroidism (5).
  • Interference with medications: Biotin supplements may interfere with certain anticonvulsant drugs such as phenytoin, carbamazepine, primidone, etc.
  • Scurfy skin: Some children may develop itchy and scaly skin due to high levels of vitamin B7 in the body.

The doctor will decide the precise dosage of oral biotin supplements after considering the child’s age and overall health. Do not provide biotin supplements without speaking to the doctor. Most kids can get their required vitamins and minerals from dietary sources. It is essential to consume a mixed diet balancing all nutrients to avoid deficiencies. You may plan your child’s diet to meet the daily adequate intake of essential vitamins such as vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin C, and B complex vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, etc.

Follow a vitamin chart to know the health benefits, food sources, and daily recommended allowance to avoid deficiencies and hypervitaminosis. Always consult your child’s pediatrician to know the need for vitamins and minerals supplementation or for any other herbal or nutritional supplementation.

References:

1. Vitamin B7 benefits; Nutri-facts
2. What is Biotin?; Food Insight; The International Food Information Council Foundation (IFICF)
3. Vitamin B; Betterhealth; Victoria State Government
4. Biotin; The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS); The National Institutes of Health
5. Biotin; Oregon State University
6. Biotin-Vitamin B7; Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
7. Biotin (oral); C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital

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