Does B12 Cause Acne? Vitamin B12 and Acne: All You Need to Know

Does B12 Cause Acne? Vitamin B12 and Acne: All You Need to Know

Vitamins are crucial for our health - we all know that. We've been told so by everyone growing up. They have a role in pretty much every function and chemical reaction in the human body: boosting the immune system, ensuring normal development and growth, helping cells and organs function properly, forming red blood cells, improving brain activity and mental health, creating a healthy metabolism, and so much more. You get the picture - vitamins are needed for the entire body to function normally.

But too much of a good thing can be bad. Many people believe that the body gets rid of excess vitamins through urinating, but that's not true for all vitamins. An overdose of certain vitamins can cause havoc in the human body, reversing the initial benefits of taking it and introducing new chaos and side effects that could've been easily prevented.

For this reason, it's important to educate ourselves on vitamins and not just religiously ingest multivitamin supplements because we've heard somewhere that it's good for you.

B12 is one of those vitamins that's not easy to overdose from, but it's certainly plausible.

First, let's clarify what its functions are and what the normal dosage for a healthy individual is.

What Does B12 Do for Our Bodies?

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin essential for many functions, such as maintaining cell health and producing DNA. It has one of the most complex structures of all vitamins.

Needless to say, healthy levels of B12 are extremely important for bodily functions. But what exactly does B12 do once it gets into our system?

In addition to helping you make DNA, B12 maintains healthy nerve and blood cells and prevents anemia.

But it doesn't perform these tasks under any circumstances or on its own. Hydrochloric acid in the stomach separates the ingested B12 from the protein. Then, it combines it with another protein, one that's made by the stomach, called the intrinsic factor. After that, it's absorbed into the body.

Some factors influence the formation of the intrinsic factor, such as pernicious anemia. People who suffer from this condition can't produce enough of it, which leads to poor absorption of B12.

How Much Vitamin B12 Do We Really Need?

The recommended dose of B12 will largely depend on each individual. For instance, children need less mcg per day than adults. The average adult needs around 2.4 mcg per day, whereas children younger than nine need around 1.2 mcg. Those older than nine need 1.8 mcg and teenagers need 2.4 mcg. Breastfeeding women need a higher dose, ranging from 2.6 mcg to 2.8 mcg.

Vitamin B12 Sources

Vitamin B12 can be found in animal products (such as meat and dairy products) since farmers inject animals with B12 shots regularly.

Some food is fortified with B12, such as breakfast cereals, nutritional yeast, and plant milks.

However, most people supplement with B12 injections, sprays, or oral supplements. They're inexpensive, very effective in keeping steady B12 levels, and most importantly – they don't cause any harm to our overall health as other sources do. There are many easily-accessible brands on the market you can choose from.

Types of Vitamin B12

There are two types of vitamin B12: methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin. The one which is more absorbed in our bodies is methylcobalamin.

Vitamin B12 and Acne Breakouts

What's the correlation between B12 and acne? This relationship is complex to explain, and the studies devoted to answering this question are fairly recent, so we don't have much information on the subject.

According to a new study, injections can change the genetic expression of P. acnes, the main skin bacteria found in the pores that promote inflammation and contribute to the appearance of acne. Some people who take injections for anemia can develop acne afterward.

Regarding oral supplements, other studies suggest they rarely result in the growth of skin bacterium and acne development. An injection will typically contain a larger dosage of B12 than oral ingestion, which is often taken sporadically.

Another factor that might influence whether the patient suffers from acne after injecting B12 is the types of vitamin B12. Those with acne-prone skin might suffer the side effects of acne if they take methylcobalamin.

If this kind of B12 is making your skin worse, consider talking to your dermatologist about switching to cyanocobalamin. Cyanocobalamin is synthetic and doesn't absorb as much as the other one, so it will likely agree well with your skin.

If you do break out from excess B12, don't despair! The good news is that your acne will probably go away a couple of weeks after taking B12 for the last time. You will get clear skin.

What Does Science Say?

Now that we've explained the relationship between vitamin B12 and acne, let's take a closer look at what new research has to say.

Studies show that not only can it affect acne-causing skin bacteria, but it can also increase overall inflammation.

As mentioned previously, one study found that vitamin B12 changes acnes' gene expression pattern, which, in turn, increases the levels of inflammation. When scientists examined the skin reaction of people who don't have acne upon supplementing with B12, the team found that the supplementation repressed the expression of genes of P. acnes, almost as low as the levels of people who have acne-prone skin.

Only one short week after receiving B12 supplementation, one in ten subjects involved developed acne. There was a statistical significance to show their gene expression was also changed.

So, who is more prone to having the same problem? Luckily, not all B12 levels create equal chaos. This occurs mostly when people supplement with too much B12 beyond their daily needs.

That said, not all excess B12 will end up on your face in an inflamed pimple. This doesn't mean that every single person who might overdose on B12 is prone to developing acne. That's exceptionally hard to accomplish in the first place. Your reaction to the excess vitamin will depend on your skin type, acne history, and genetic makeup.

It can be concluded that more research needs to be done on this subject. We need a deeper understanding of how the things we ingest combined with our skin bacteria can lead to certain diseases and what we can do about it to prevent those illnesses.

Vitamin B12 Supplements

Supplements come in all shapes, sizes, and qualities. B12 may come in isolation, or B12 might be combined with other vitamins in a multivitamin pill.

Always read the label and see the dosage of a given supplement. If it's over the recommended daily dose (2.4 mcg), use it less frequently, or switch to another supplement that's not as potent.

So, how do you correctly mouth down B12 for acne prevention? Finding the right dosage is key.

Prior studies show that supplementation is necessary for vegans and vegetarians, especially those who don't eat many foods fortified with B12. However, deficiencies can happen to anyone, regardless of the foods they consume.

If you suspect you have low B12 levels, you can get a blood test to determine the amount of B12 in your body. You'd be surprised by how common B12 deficiencies are, despite the serious side effects that come with them. Pay close attention to the symptoms section to prevent this from happening.

How to Prevent Getting Acne Due to Vitamin B12?

The most important thing you should remember about B12 and acne is that the right dosage can save you from a lot of trouble and prevent breakouts. If you have acne-prone skin, notice which supplements break you out. Then, if possible, you can switch to other methods of getting an adequate amount of B12, such as an injection or spray.

The type of B12 might also cause you to break out. So, if you notice that your skin isn't getting along with one kind of vitamin B12, you can switch to the other one and determine whether it has the same effect.

When discussing acne prevention, it's important to look at the big picture. Research findings suggest a link between this vitamin consumption and acne, which can potentially explain flare-ups. But that doesn't mean we should ignore all the other contributors to pesky pimples, such as junk foods and sugar, not getting enough sleep and exercise, and excessive stress.

Before pointing the finger at B12, ensure you have all these other aspects in check. That's the best way to ensure optimal skin health in the long run.

If you suffer from acne, try Misumi's Complete Clear 3-Step System. Comprised of a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer, this set kills common acne bacteria found on the skin and will help clear up those flare-ups in no time.

Is it Okay to Take B12 Supplements If You Have Acne?

If you're diagnosed with a B12 deficiency and already have acne, it's normal to be concerned about getting more pimples once you start supplementing with vitamin B12. Luckily, that probably won't be the case. Don't let other people's experiences stop you from supplementing with this crucial vitamin.

Your doctor will prescribe a suitable dose of vitamin B12, and they will monitor your levels in the following months. Always tell your doctor if you notice any new breakouts or other unusual symptoms. If this occurs, they will probably lower your dose. And if that doesn't work, they might switch the form of the supplement or the kind of B12 they've prescribed to you.

Vitamin B12 and Acne

Vitamin B12 deficiency might result in more than one skin problem. There are a few skin-related signs you're B12 deficient that you might want to watch out for. These include:

  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Pale, dull-looking skin
  • Vitiligo
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema

Acne can indicate low B12 levels. There are many testimonials from people whose stubborn acne significantly altered a few months after regular supplementation. Some doctors claim that higher B12 levels lower cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone. And we've all heard that stress can lead to acne, so it's not surprising that supplementation might work in this case.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms

Most people get enough B12 through their diet. However, some people aren't getting enough of it daily, or they can't absorb it properly. This can lead to a deficiency.

As we age, the absorption of B12 becomes progressively harder. Some lifestyle habits, such as drinking and taking certain types of medication or medicine, might also cause poor absorption. In addition, several health conditions might result in B12 deficiencies, such as pernicious anemia, Crohn's disease, celiac disease, parasites, atrophic gastritis, or some autoimmune diseases like Graves and lupus.

If you're vegan or vegetarian and don't supplement with B12 regularly, you're also at risk of being deficient.

Here are a few symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency that you should be aware of:

  • Vision loss
  • Trouble walking
  • Depression and memory loss
  • Digestive issues, constipation, diarrhea, excessive gas
  • Numbness in certain areas of the body and muscle weakness
  • Heart palpitations and shortness of breath

For most people, supplementing is enough to solve the problem. Make sure to consult with your doctor if you suspect that you have any of the symptoms mentioned above.

Final Thoughts

Acne (especially cystic acne) can be an extremely draining and demotivating skin condition, especially when we're bombarded daily with information about all the things that can lead to it. That list seems endless, and it's getting longer by the minute. In actual fact, acne is mostly caused by genes rather than other factors like diet.

But don't despair! You can still get clear skin. Certain oral medications such as Isotretinoin (Accutane or Roaccutane) or birth control pills are very successful for acne patients when combined with topical treatment. They can control common acne bacteria on the face, stopping acnes growing. And if you want to take the natural route, don't miss our DIY natural spot treatment guide.

Inadequate B12 levels can significantly worsen acne and cause new breakouts. Even though it doesn't happen that often, it's essential to keep this in mind if you're currently looking for an acne cure.

Stay strong and keep looking at the evidence because that's the only way to find a cure. Take a look at your other habits that might also affect acne and make changes if needed. If your acne remains after that, keep trying everything.

Acne doesn't define you; it's just another health problem that needs addressing. And you're so much more than your current health problems.


Vitamin B12 modulates the transcriptome of the skin microbiota in acne pathogenesis

Decreased Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid Concentrations in Acne Patients After Isotretinoin Therapy

This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances, and its goal is to offer a general view of the subject. In case you are suffering from a severe case of acne, you should consult with a dermatologist or a certified medical professional.

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