Does Vitamin B12 Cause Acne?

Does Vitamin B12 Cause Acne?

Co-founder of CLEARSTEM Skincare
By: Kayleigh Christina

Holistic Nutritionist Kayleigh Christina is the co-founder of CLEARSTEM Skincare, a non-toxic skincare line that targets acne, anti-aging, and scar reversing utilizing premium ingredients. Christina’s journey into the skincare world started when she developed numerous health issues, including severe cystic acne in her mid-twenties and tried in vain to find a cure.

Holistic Nutritionist Kayleigh Christina is the co-founder of CLEARSTEM Skincare, a non-toxic skincare line that targets acne, anti-aging, and scar reversing utilizing premium ingredients. Christina’s journey into the skincare world started when she developed numerous health issues, including severe cystic acne in her mid-twenties and tried in vain to find a cure.

Many of us have our own preconceived notions of what constitutes good health, and it’s safe to say that we all want to strive to achieve it. After all, a balanced diet, getting enough sleep at night, and exercising a few times a week can make all the difference in how we look and feel.

However, try as we might, sometimes life can get a bit chaotic. Deadlines at work manage to spill over into our personal lives, our families demand more of our attention than we expected, and suddenly we’re pulling through the drive-thru instead of enjoying a big ole salad for dinner.

While we’re not going to go off the deep end and suddenly go on a junk food bender or anything like that, it’s far too tempting to want to reach for a multivitamin to make up the difference in our diets when we miss the mark. That said, not all vitamins are going to have the same benefits – and some of them can even harm us if we overdo them.

That’s exactly the case in point for the humble vitamin B12. Water soluble, necessary for our general health, and something we can’t produce in our own bodies, we need to get it either from the foods we eat or the supplements we take. If not, our well-being can quickly start to fall apart, leading to a host of easily preventable problems. (1)

Unfortunately, most – if not all – multivitamins on the market contain far too much of this vitamin in them. This is especially true of “B Complex” vitamins that can have absolutely ridiculous levels, like 25,000% of the RDV. While it may not lead to a noticeable “toxicity” it can absolutely cause dermatological issues including acne. It can cause serious breakouts if you overdo it, often mimicking hormonal acne around the jaw, neck, and lower face.

To help you better understand this risk, and help ward off any unwanted future blemishes, here’s the 411 on vitamin B12 acne. That way, you can take a more informed approach to whether or not this vitamin is a good fit for you, how to help yourself avoid any possible acne breakouts from taking it, and even determine if you’re someone who even needs to take it in the first place.

What Does Vitamin B12 Acne Look Like?

Vitamin B12 acne is included in a subset known as “inflammatory acne.” These include pustules (the white-capped, pus-filled ones), cysts and nodules (the hard, deep ones), and papules (similar to cysts, but not as large). If your acne is tender and painful to the touch, and is sudden in onset after starting vitamin B12, then it’s most likely caused by this vitamin. (2) You can notice a breakout from too much B12 in as little as a day- it’s that powerful of a trigger.

Does Vitamin B12 Ever Help Acne?

So, now that you have the answer to, “Can vitamin B12 cause acne?” you’re probably wondering if taking a small dose of it can actually help treat your current acne breakouts. Well, it really depends. Certain people can definitely benefit from taking vitamin B12 for acne, but the dose needs to be much smaller than you may realize. And it will only help your acne if your acne was tied to a deficiency in the first place. In our clinical experience at San Diego Acne Clinic, we have never seen B12 help acne, only worsen it. Just our experience. 

How Much B12 Will Cause Acne

The recommended dosage of vitamin B12 is about 2.4 micrograms (mcg) per day, but many supplements contain oh-so-much more than that. This is overkill, plain and simple. Studies have shown that if you take more than 5-10 mg (or about 5,000-10,000 mcg) per week, then you’ll find yourself breaking out in spots all over your face – and even on your body. (3 & 4)

Can B12 Deficiency Cause Acne

It’s an interesting paradox, but having a B12 deficiency has actually been linked to acne breakouts. If you happen to not get enough of it in your diet (such as if you are a vegan or have dietary restrictions like food allergies, for instance) then yes, taking a modest amount of vitamin B12 can help treat your acne and give you back the clear skin you desire. The best way to do this in a measurable, natural way is through spirulina tablets.

The keyword here, though, is modest. As you already know, if you overdo it, you will likely get even more breakouts. Try to find one that contains right around the RDA for this vitamin, or only a bit more, and see if you can find a methylated one (that is, methylcobalamin). This is the biologically active version of it, which means that you can get by with taking less. 

PRO TIP: For those who are seriously acne-prone, try staying under 400% RDV, spacing the dosage throughout the day, and take it with food.

Can Vitamin B12 Cause General Skin Problems?

More is not always better, as most of us learn as we get wiser and older. If you’re thinking that mega-dosing vitamin B12 affects just acne breakouts, think again. Research has pointed toward taking too much B12 also leads to issues such as vitiligo (changes in skin color), atopic dermatitis (eczema), rosacea (both mild and severe), and even allergic reactions (topical and anaphylaxis). (5)

Why Are B12 Supplements Recommended to People?

A deficiency in vitamin B12 is common these days, as it is one of the many vitamins that gets depleted under chronic stress. As you already know, we can’t synthesize our own vitamin B12. We have to get it from the foods we eat, but most of the foods that are rich in this vitamin tend to be animal-based. This means that most people on plant-focused diets simply aren’t going to get enough of it, no matter how hard they try.

Maybe you’re a vegan. Or maybe you have food allergies, or perhaps you have malabsorption issues. It’s possible that your doctor told you to take it because you have a condition called “pernicious anemia,” which is an autoimmune disorder that means you can’t absorb vitamin B12 properly. (6)

No matter what your reasons are for taking it, vitamin B12 can come with a host of amazing health benefits. That said, it can come with its own downfalls, which is why you need to be sure to do your research and start small when taking it. Not doing so can backfire big time, and the side effects can linger for weeks or even months.

How to Get Rid of Acne Caused by B12?

If you are among the unlucky ones who happened to develop acne breakouts after starting vitamin B12, the good news is that treating it is much easier than you may think. Because this is a water-soluble vitamin, it’s not going to linger in your body as long as a fat-soluble one might.

This means that the trick to getting rid of it is as easy as drinking plenty of water to flush it out, and counteracting it with your own solid skincare routine. Use a gentle cleanser both morning and night, a non-comedogenic moisturizer to help maintain your stratum corneum, and a mandelic acid serum (a type of exfoliating alpha hydroxy acid) to unclog those pores.

You can also start introducing acne-fighting multivitamins into your routine, too. For instance, vitamin A can help get rid of your blemishes. The link between vitamin D and acne is also well documented, and many of us are deficient in both of these vitamins- so get some sunshine or a sun lamp (overdoing it with Vitamin D supplements can also backfire on acne so don’t jump into that either).

Just don’t overdo it, as they are both fat-soluble and it’s possible to overdose and veer into toxicity. Finally, you can take vitamin B5 for acne, and studies have shown that you can reduce your breakouts by nearly two-thirds if you do supplement with this vitamin. Stay away from too much B6, though, as it can have the same effect as B12, leading to even more blemishes. (7 & 8)

How Long Does It Take Before Vitamin B12 Acne Goes Away

There’s no hard and fast rule as to how long your vitamin B12 acne will linger. As soon as you stop taking it, though, you’ll put a halt on any future breakouts caused by it. That said, it’s going to take time for it to clear out (no pun intended), and you’ll still notice random patches of acne blemishes on your face and body for a few weeks following cessation.

In the meantime, you’ll want to continue to pamper your skin. Don’t overdo it with a bunch of harsh actives, as that can wind up irritating your acid mantle and leading to even more breakouts. If you’re getting impatient, and it feels like your acne is lasting longer than expected – to the tune of a month or more – there may be something other than the vitamin B12 to blame.

In this case, you’ll want to take a closer look at other variables that can be breaking you out. For instance, if your acne is situated near your chin and jawline, it could be due to a hormonal imbalance. Taking a hormonal acne supplement, though, can help restore the balance and get you back on the path to clear skin. (9)

Can You Get Acne From Vitamin B12?

There are many reasons why you may want to take vitamin B12. Perhaps you’re looking to get healthier hair or nails. Maybe you’re a vegan who wants to make sure you’re covering all of your bases when it comes to your overall well-being. Whatever your reason for taking it, though, you want to make sure you’re mindful of how much you take because yes, you can absolutely break out from too much B12.

After all, as the saying goes, the poison is in the dose. While it’s not necessarily likely that you’ll cause permanent damage by overdoing it, nobody wants to have to deal with unwanted acne breakouts when they’re trying to do something good for their body. If you’re going to start supplementing with vitamin B12 and you want to prevent blemishes, then please be careful.

First and foremost, it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re actually deficient in this vitamin before you start taking it. Talking to your doctor is a good place to start, as they can help you know where you stand and maybe order a blood panel for you. You should also read the nutritional label on the back of the bottle, as that’ll give you a better idea of how much you’re taking.

Yes, there are a lot of health benefits to taking vitamin B12, but there are just as many risks if you go in blind without first doing your research. However, by doing your due diligence on it, you can help maximize the benefits – while also avoiding any unwanted side effects if and when you decide to take it!


Sources

Source 1: Vitamin B12 sources and microbial interaction https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29216732/

Source 2: Vitamin B12 modulates the transcriptome of the skin microbiota in acne pathogenesis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6049814/

Source 3: Vitamin B12 - Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline - NCBI Bookshelf https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK114302/

Source 4: Acne Vulgaris and Intake of Selected Dietary Nutrients—A Summary of Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8226785/

Source 5: A review of vitamin B12 in dermatology https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25559140/

Source 6: Pernicious Anemia - StatPearls https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK540989/

Source 7: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of a Novel Pantothenic Acid-Based Dietary Supplement in Subjects with Mild to Moderate Facial Acne https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4065280/

Source 8: Acne related to dietary supplements https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32941710/

Source 9: Hormonal treatment of acne vulgaris: an update https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015761/

 

Co-founder of CLEARSTEM Skincare
By: Kayleigh Christina

Holistic Nutritionist Kayleigh Christina is the co-founder of CLEARSTEM Skincare, a non-toxic skincare line that targets acne, anti-aging, and scar reversing utilizing premium ingredients. Christina’s journey into the skincare world started when she developed numerous health issues, including severe cystic acne in her mid-twenties and tried in vain to find a cure.

Holistic Nutritionist Kayleigh Christina is the co-founder of CLEARSTEM Skincare, a non-toxic skincare line that targets acne, anti-aging, and scar reversing utilizing premium ingredients. Christina’s journey into the skincare world started when she developed numerous health issues, including severe cystic acne in her mid-twenties and tried in vain to find a cure.