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Dear Pharmacist,

Please write about biotin deficiency, this is what killed my husband. No one detected it and I want to alert everyone. Love your work, hope to meet you one day.

--J.P., Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Answer: I’m sorry about your loss. Today, I will write about it. Together we will be preventing more deaths. The problem is that physicians and consumers think of biotin only as a “beauty” vitamin to improve nail strength and hair growth. It’s also known as vitamin H, or B7. The sad part is, thousands of medications are “drug muggers” of biotin, meaning they prevent absorption or diminish our ability to make it in the body. Here are signs that suggest biotin deficiency:

Nerve pain- Numbness, tingling, prickly sensations, pain or any other “paresthesia.” It can occur by itself, or as part of kidney disease, insulin resistance or diabetes.

Skin conditions- Eczema, psoriasis, seborrheoeic dermatitis, flaking, itching, flaking, scaly, dry or inflamed skin, sores in or around the mouth, burning mouth/tongue, all of these problems suggest biotin (or another B vitamin) deficiency.

Poor immunity- Results in more frequent bacterial or viral infections, anywhere, even in your eye (conjunctivitis).

Cognitive problems- The brain needs biotin to make neurotransmitters that keep you feeling mentally alert, happy and attentive. Low biotin can cause fatigue and depression.

High cholesterol- Animal studies have shown that biotin (along with chromium) can reduce cholesterol and triglycerides. Low biotin increases risk for fatty liver.

Anorexia- You’re not hungry if you have biotin deficiency. Sounds like a dream right, but it can actually contribute to depression, lethargy, and weakness.

Anemia- The hemoglobin cells lose their ability to tote oxygen, leaving you feeling winded, short of breath, inattentive and fatigued with little exertion. Prolonged anemia raises risk for heart failure.

Cardiac Arrhythmia- Biotin deficiency can absolutely cause you to suffer palpitations, skipped beats and other electrical disturbances that can cause a fatal heart attack.

You must get as irritated as I do to read Internet posts from so-called experts saying that biotin deficiency is “rare” or that we get enough from foods. I believe biotin deficiency is extremely common and covered this nutrient in Chapter 6 of Drug Muggers.

Biotin is made by yeast and bacteria, the same friendly microorganisms in our intestinal flora. Keep in mind, all medications strip away our probiotics, reducing our biotin stash. Antibiotics are huge drug muggers as are estrogen-containing hormones, acid blockers, antacids, anti-convulsants, steroids, anti-virals, breast cancer drugs, anti-inflammatories and certain analgesics; also people who smoke, drink alcohol, coffee or take alpha lipoic acid run out of biotin quickly. My list adds up to a bazillion people! Biotin supplements are sold over-the-counter but of course ask your doctor if it’s right for you. About 1,000 to 5,000 mcg per day should help. Your body washes away excess biotin. Food sources: Organ meats, nuts, cashews, dairy, liver, scrambled eggs, cauliflower, leafy greens, legumes and seafood.

Suzy Cohen

Suzy Cohen, is known as America’s Pharmacist. She has been a licensed pharmacist for 24 years and is a Functional Medicine practitioner. She’s the author of 6 books, including her most recent Amazon #1 best-seller, “Thyroid Healthy: Lose Weight, Look Beautiful and Live the Life You Imagine.”

She was the host of The Thyroid Summit which broadcast worldwide in June 2014. Suzy has been a syndicated columnist for 19 years reaching 20 million in circulation each week. She is a Huffington Post writer, and also hosts her own syndicated medical minute on TV. Suzy has been featured on The Dr OZ Show 6 times, and has appeared on The View, Good Morning America Health, The Doctors and hundreds of other networks. She is a member of The Institute of Functional Medicine, also the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, The American Pharmacists Association and ILADS, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. You can read free articles and receive your free newsletter by visiting her website,

Books authored by Suzy Cohen include:

  • Thyroid Healthy
  • Headache Free
  • Drug Muggers
  • Diabetes Without Drugs
  • The 24-Hour Pharmacist
  • Eczema: Itchin’ for a Cure (kindle only)
  • Understanding Pancreatitis & Pancreatic Cancer (kindle only)