Are your efforts towards gorgeous hair and nails affecting your fertility?
Biotin supplements are now overpowering the supplement aisle with promises of strong nails and luscious hair. Who doesn’t want that? It sounds like a great solution: inexpensive, over-the-counter, and seemingly harmless. Despite biotin’s popularity on social media, the clinical trials supporting it’s use for hair and nail quality is lacking. Additionally, as Mark Twain once said, “too much of a good thing is bad”. Unless someone is truly deficient in biotin (as determined by a health care provider) or there is a clinical reason why a person is taking large amounts of biotin supplements, it is in everyone’s best interest to stop supplementing with very large quantities…especially if you are a woman who is trying to conceive or is currently pregnant.
The old-school train of thought was that any excess vitamins would be eliminated by the body (“pee it out” sound familiar?). More research is being done in the field of mega-dosing vitamins, and researchers are finding that excess vitamin intake in supplement form may have some downsides. In the case of biotin, large amounts of the vitamin in the body can interfere with certain lab test results, including thyroid function tests. Therefore, taking large amounts of biotin can mask a thyroid issue.
Thyroid function plays a role in fertility. Undiagnosed and untreated thyroid dysfunction can be a cause for infertility as well as sub-fertility. When someone is diagnosed with hypothyroidism (abnormally low activity of the thyroid gland), the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of some key hormones. This can affect ovulation (and normal menses), which impairs fertility. Conversely, recent research has shown that some women with fertility challenges suffer from hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), meaning the thyroid is producing too much of certain hormones and can result in menstrual irregularity. Normally, getting a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism is treated by a health care provider, and typically medication is required to help with regulation. If a woman is trying to concieve unsuccessfully, a thyroid panel is often drawn because thyroid function plays such a large role in fertility.
Thyroid function and also plays a huge role in a healthy pregnancy. Thyroid function isn’t discussed as much as folate or DHA, but if the thyroid isn’t working correctly, it can have some very serious consequences. Some include:
· Spontaneous abortion/miscarriage
· Premature delivery
· Fetal congenital abnormalities
· Post-partum depression
· Congenital hypothyroidism
In some cases, people who take large amounts of biotin have skewed thyroid function results. Your doctor may incorrectly diagnose you with hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or send you away with a clean bill of health when in reality you may actually require thyroid function management! The risk associated with that is not being aware of the hormone imbalance that is going on in your body that needs to be medically treated. If there is a true hormone imbalance, you run the risk of having a very difficult time becoming pregnant and run an even larger risk of having negative outcomes if you become pregnant.
The recommended adequate intake of biotin for many populations is 30 micrograms according to the Institute of Medicine. It is shocking to see many “hair and nail” supplements provide as much as 5,000 micrograms! That is over 1,500% the recommended daily allowance. The best rule-of-thumb is to not take large amounts of any vitamin, mineral, or supplement unless recommended by a health care provider, especially when trying to conceive or are pregnant. It is understandable to have the desire for model-worthy hair and nails (who doesn’t!), but at this unique stage of life, whatever you put in your body plays a role for better or for worse.