Vitamin B12, a cause of acne?

Vitamin B12 is quite a popular supplement and especially vegans, vegetarians and people who eat little meat. It is found in many meat and dairy products. It improves brain function and prevents anemia. In the skin, this vitamin can change the genetic makeup of acne bacteria, causing skin inflammation and thus promoting the formation of pimples.

short summary


Acne not just for teenagers. In fact, it affects most of us at some point in our lives, with an estimated global prevalence (across all ages) of 9.38%. The unfortunate of us will suffer from skin inflammations well past their thirtieth birthday.

A pimple is an inflammation of the hair-sebaceous gland complex. The causes include four main processes: overproduction of androgens, excessive sebum production, inflammation and proliferation of Cutibacterium acnes (formerly Propionibacterium acnes).

Causes for acne are:

  • Use of medications such as lithium, corticosteroids, testosterone, and anticonvulsants
  • Exposure to too much sunlight
  • Use of face masks, occlusive clothing such as shoulder pads, headbands, backpacks and underwired bras
  • Endocrine disorders such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and even pregnancy
  • Genetic factors Heritability estimates range from 50-90%
  • There is a relationship between sugar/carbohydrates and acne

More about acne

Vitamin B12 and acne research

In 2015, a study was conducted on the relationship between vitamin b12 and acne. It is known that acne bacteria themselves produce vitamin B12. First, they studied the molecular pathway of vitamin B12 in the skin bacteria Cutibacterium acnes. The researchers compare these in people with normal ‘clear’ skin and people with skin that is prone to acne. They found that the synthesis pathway of vitamin B12 in C. acnes was significantly downregulated in the acne patients compared to the patients with healthy skin.

They then wanted to test the effects of an elevated B12 and skin bacteria. Ten volunteers with clear and healthy skin received a vitamin B12 injection. As it turns out, the extra supplement suppressed the expression of vitamin B12 biosynthesis genes in C. acnes itself and this changed the transcriptome of this skin bacteria, resulting in more acne. In other words, the extra vitamin B12 administration inhibited the vitamin B12 production of the bacteria itself. This led to an altered bacterial metabolism resulting in more bacterial porphyrins being produced. Porphyrins cause skin inflammation and acne.


Whether or not vitamin B12 causes acne on clear skin depends a lot on the person. If you are deficient, stick to a recommended dosage. The normal dosage for adult men and women is only 2.8 micrograms per day.

A case report study showed an acne breakout with a B12 injection of 1000 micrograms within 2 days. B12 Injections is completely injected into the body unlike a tablet. No studies have looked specifically at how different doses of B12 affect acne, but injections of this size equate to a minimum of 5,000 micrograms of oral B12.

What is vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is also called cobalamin. It is water soluble which is found only in animal products such as dairy products, meat, fish, milk and eggs. Sometimes seaweed and algae is touted as a vegan B12 alternative, but unfortunately it is not well absorbed in the body.

Seaweed and algae, alternatively vegan B12 are NOT properly absorbed into the body!

The natural forms of vitamin B12 found in foods and drinks are methylcobalamin, hydroxycobalamin, and S-adenosylcobalamin. Vitamin B12-fortified foods or supplements use hydroxocobalamin or synthetic cyanocobalamin. Opt for methylcobalamin or hydroxycobalamin if you need extra B12.

It is necessary for the production of red blood cells. Red blood cells are needed to transport oxygen in your blood. In addition, it is necessary for the proper functioning of your nervous system.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is rare, partly because the body can store vitamin B12 and thus has plenty of it. If you don’t get enough vitamin B12 for a long time, you won’t notice it until much later. Often only after a few months or even a year. The complaints if you have a deficiency are: heart palpitations, ringing in the ears, fatigue, tingling, memory impairment, muscle weakness especially in the legs and muscle coordination disorder.

While you are here

Dermatitis perioralis is a rash most commonly seen in women between the ages of 16 and 45. But children between the ages of 7 months and 13 years are not spared either.

The skin condition consists of small inflammatory papules and pimples and/or red/pink scaly areas around the mouth or eyes. The bumps are not real pimples, they are rather eczema bumps, filled with moisture. More about dermatitis perioralis and list of causes


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