More and more older people are turning to the vitamin biotin to fortify their aging skin, hair, and nails.
But in a new study, researchers found at high doses, the popular biotin supplement could mask heart trouble by interfering with some vital medical tests.
The research was conducted by a team at the University of Minnesota.
There is no issue with the lower doses found in multivitamins.
But high doses of biotin can cause falsely low results in a blood test that measures the protein troponin—which is used to help diagnose heart attacks.
In 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a safety alert on the issue.
It hasn’t been clear, though, how popular high-dose biotin use is.
In the study, the team analyzed data from a long-running U.S. health survey.
They found that high-dose biotin supplements have risen from obscurity to become notably more popular in recent years.
By 2016, about 3% of U.S. adults were using them. That was up from 0.1% in 1999 to 2000.
High-dose biotin was defined as 1 milligram (mg) per day or more, which is many times greater than the recommended dietary intake of 30 micrograms a day.
The team says women were much more likely to use the supplements. Among women aged 60 and older, over 7% took at least 1 mg per day, while another 2% used doses of 5 mg or more.
That’s concerning because older adults are at increased risk of a heart attack, particularly if they have conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes.
For people with risk factors for heart attack, it’s best to avoid large doses of biotin.
The team says ER doctors should be aware of the potential for biotin interference, and ask patients with possible heart attack symptoms about any supplement use.
One author of the study is Danni Li, an associate professor of laboratory medicine and pathology.
The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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