Can Increased Intake of a Certain Vitamin Contribute to Acne Breakouts?

Key Takeaways:

  • Increased levels of Vitamin B12 might potentially influence the activity of certain skin bacteria, thereby potentially leading to increased frequency of acne outbreaks.
  • Genetic factors could influence susceptibility to acne, potentially offering potential targets for future drug treatments.
  • Vitamin B12, found in animal-derived products, is vital for health but can be difficult for some people, like those following a plant-based diet and individuals over 50, to naturally absorb.
  • While there seems to be a connection between high levels of Vitamin B12 and acne, there is no clear consensus on how large of a role B12 plays in acne and it is still uncertain how many individuals might be vulnerable to this connection.
  • The implications of these research findings on acne treatment remain unclear due to the complexity of skin bacteria’s role in acne and the insufficiency of our understanding in this area.

Emerging research suggests that a surge in vitamin B12 levels might influence microbial activity in some individuals, thereby increasing the probability of acne flare-ups.

Nevertheless, the information available at present doesn’t confirm whether reducing vitamin B12 intake from food or supplements is an effective action to prevent the occurrence of pimples, according to the research team.

“Our study is yet to comprehensively ascertain that suggestion,” stated the head of the study, Huiying Li, an Assistant Professor of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Li went on to explain that the research not only sheds light on the role of Vitamin B12 but also unveils the genetic activities that might trigger acne.

The Role of Genetics in Acne

“Certain genes could potentially determine the likelihood of acne breakouts in people,” Li noted. “These genes could herald potential targets for future drug treatments.”

The findings from this research made their debut in the June 24 edition of Science Translational Medicine.

The Importance of Vitamin B12

An insufficiency of Vitamin B12 can lead to serious health complications, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked to anemia, digestive issues, and various neurological problems such as tingling and numbness in the extremities, vision disturbances, and memory lapses.

Vitamin B12 is available in animal-derived products like dairy and shellfish. Individuals consuming a plant-based diet such as vegans and vegetarians are encouraged to take supplements or eat fortified foods to acquire this necessary nutrient. “Many individuals over the age of 50 lose the capability to absorb vitamin B12 from foods,” the U.S. National Library of Medicine points out, adding that weight-loss surgery could trigger a similar problem.

Vitamin B12 and Acne

The objective of the current study was to identify the factors that increase susceptibility to acne. Through the research, Li and her team noticed indications that Vitamin B12 potentially intensifies acne by altering a certain skin bacterium called Propionibacterium acnes, which has a correlation with acne.

Having established a connection between the vitamin and acne, the researchers then studied 10 individuals with clear skin who were instructed to commence Vitamin B12 supplements. Their increased consumption of vitamins impacted how the skin bacteria’s genes utilized the vitamin, according to Li, although only a single participant suffered an acne breakout subsequently.

Li believes this reinforces the evidence that vitamin B12 can influence the activity of skin bacteria. According to her, the affected bacteria, P. acnes, can lead to inflammation, a crucial factor in acne.

Past studies have associated vitamin B12 with acne, Li mentioned. However, several questions still loom unanswered.

While the genes behaved differently in the only person in the study who developed acne, it remains uncertain how many individuals might share a similar vulnerability. Nevertheless, the activity of these genes could be significant for future treatment approaches, she proposed.

Implications for Acne Treatment

The practical implications of these research findings for individuals with acne or those wanting to avoid it are yet to be clarified.

Dr. Whitney Bowe, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, also argues that “our understanding of how skin bacteria contribute to acne is far from complete.”

Dr. Bowe, who wasn’t involved in the new study, emphasized the complexity of the issue, noting that there are multiple individuals who have P. acnes lacing their skin but never develop acne, and that simply eradicated the bacteria doesn’t provide a solution for acne.

So what’s the way forward? According to Dr. Bowe, “The knowledge derived from this study isn’t adequate for me to counsel my patients to cease intake of foods or vitamins containing vitamin B12.”. She further stated, “The study suggests that high levels of B12 in the bloodstream might exacerbate acne in certain individuals. More research is required to verify this result and to understand its clinical relevance.”

Finally, it is important to underline that a Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to serious health issues affecting various parts of the body and brain, as reported by the CDC.

Further Information

For more comprehensive information about acne, do visit the American Academy of Dermatology.

Emma Caplan

Hola from sunny Costa Rica! I’m Emma Caplan, a California native turned Costa Rican resident. With over a decade of writing experience under my belt, I’ve crafted stories, articles, and narratives on a multitude of subjects. But at heart, health and lifestyle topics resonate the most with me.Not just a writer by profession, I'm an athlete by passion. CrossFit challenges and exhilarates me, shaping both my physical stamina and my perspective on life. I love intertwining my firsthand experiences from the box with my pieces, giving readers a unique blend of authenticity and expertise.Married and fully immersed in the pura vida lifestyle, I've found the perfect balance between my personal and professional life in this tropical paradise. Whether you're here for tips, insights, or stories, I’m committed to delivering content that informs, inspires, and perhaps even pushes you to try that one workout you've been hesitating to start.Join me in my journey as I explore the nexus between physical wellbeing and the art of writing. Let's sweat, learn, and grow together!
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