Vitamin B12 and Acne

Vitamins are vital, and we should always take more, right? Everyone needs to get a minimum amount of vitamin B12. But taking too much vitamin B12 can make your acne worse, and even trigger breakouts when you have clear skin. On the other hand, certain acne medications can cause a deficiency of vitamin B12 that leads to pernicious anemia, without administration of additional B12.

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Summary:

  • Vitamin B12 is essential for cardiovascular and neurological health, as well as for the production of hemoglobin for red blood cells.
  • Some oral medications for acne can interfere with the body’s absorption of vitamin B12.
  • Vitamin B12 injections can trigger acne flares.
  • When vitamin B12 injections cause acne, there are numerous, uniform pimples all over the face.
  • Vitamin B12-induced acne goes away after injections are stopped. No one should risk pernicious anemia to avoid acne.
  • The best approach to dealing with acne problems is to buy an acne treatment system, such as Exposed Skin Care.

What Is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 has the most complex chemical structure of all the vitamins. It consists of an organic molecule organized around a central atom of cobalt. There are three forms of B12 the body can use, all of them known as cobalamin, after the cobalt in the vitamin.

Cyanocobalamin is the form of B12 found in supplements. It is used in supplements because it is easy to make, and the body can easily convert it into the methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosyl cobalamin it actually uses in enzymes.

One of the enzymes the body makes with vitamin B12 is involved in detoxifying a substance called homocysteine. The other of the enzymes of the body makes with vitamin B12 is essential for the production of hemoglobin, the iron-rich protein that the blood uses to transport oxygen. Without enough vitamin B12, it is possible to develop a form of anemia known as pernicious anemia, in which the body has enough iron but cannot use it to make hemoglobin for red blood cells.

B12 Deficiency and Acne

Some people who use retinoid drugs for acne need B12 injections to prevent high homocysteine. Retinoid drugs applied directly to the skin, such as topical tretinoin and Renova, don’t have this effect. Retinoid drugs taken as a pill, however, can interfere with the action of an enzyme called cystathionine-beta-synthase. This enzyme converts homocysteine, which can inflame arteries, into a harmless form. Taking more B12 compensates for the poor performance of the enzyme and helps prevent cardiovascular complications. Just one injection usually is enough.

B12 Excess and Acne

Many people who get vitamin B12 injections for pernicious anemia, on the other hand, break out in a very particular kind of acne. Injections of vitamin B12 don’t cause one or two pimples to break out. Injections of vitamin B12 often cause massive numbers of identical pimples to break out all over the face. It is easy to identify this kind of acne as due to vitamin injections because all the pimples will look the same.

If you need vitamin B12 injections, however, you are almost certainly taking them to correct a condition that is even more serious than acne. The good news about vitamin B12 excess and acne is that the blemishes go away about two weeks after the last B12 injection, even if you do not do anything to treat them. If you have brown, black, or Asian skin, you will probably get a better long-term result if you do nothing for acne caused by B12 injections, because most acne treatments for blemishes that are this extensive will leave brown spotting on the skin.

Is It Safe to Take a B12 Supplement If You Have Acne?

The amount of vitamin B12 you get in a “complete B” vitamin supplement is not enough to make your skin out. Neither is it enough to treat pernicious anemia (that requires injections), but it will help prevent both high homocysteine and pernicious anemia.

Do You Need to Take a B12 Supplement If You Have Acne?

If you are not using any oral medications for treating acne, you do not need extra B12 for fighting acne. Nonetheless, there are many situations in which taking supplemental vitamin B12 is a very good idea.

If you take a proton pump inhibitor such as lansoprazole (Prevacid) or omeprazole (Prilosec), the drugs may reduce the amount of acid in your stomach to the point it cannot release vitamin B12 from food, although there  is enough stomach acid to dissolve vitamin B12 from supplements. Deficiency conditions usually take several years to develop. The H2-receptor antagonists such as cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepsid), and ranitidine (Zantac) can also interfere with the release of vitamin B12 from food, but their effects are not as severe.

The diabetes medication metformin (Glucophage, Glucophage XR) binds vitamin B12 to calcium. If you use metformin, as tens of millions of type 2 diabetics do every day, then taking your vitamin B12 supplement within two hours before or after eating dairy products will not do you any good. And taking the antibiotic Neomycin by mouth can also interfere with the absorption of vitamin B12.

What About Vitamin B12 Ointments and Lotions for Acne?

There is no evidence that creams and lotions or any other kind of topical skin care products containing vitamin B12 have any special value in treating acne. There is a little evidence that vitamin B12 creams may help psoriasis. There is also a product that contains an anti-irritant known as licochalcone with vitamin B12 for treating eczema in children, although the product is currently only available in Thailand. A study done about 30 years ago found that vitamin B12 is involved in the immune system’s response to staph infections, but no follow-up research confirmed the initial observations.

On the other hand, there is no evidence that creams or lotions or any other kind of topical skin care products containing vitamin B12 make acne worse. There is no reason to reject a product because it contains vitamin B12, but there is no reason to buy it, either.

You can spend a lot of time looking for special products that don’t really work all that well. Or you can spend far less time and far less money (less than $100 for 9 different products that work together) for an acne-fighting system offered with a money-back guarantee such as Exposed Skin Care.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria July 16, 2014 at 8:15 pm

I’ve never had a B12 deficiency but decided to supplement with B12 several months ago. Well i ended up taking way too much. Since then I’ve had terrible acne and its not going away. I stopped the B12 supplements as soon as I saw that my levels were through the roof after a test. How long for the levels to lower and my face returns to normal? I’ve never had acne in my life. It’s been 5 months since I last took any B12. The acne is mainly all over my forehead. Comedones everywhere!

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Krystal July 19, 2014 at 1:55 am

I have NEVER had acne before and my doctor put me on 10,000 mcg B12 shots 3x a week and now I have patches of pimples on my temples, nose, and chest! HORRIBLE

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Danielle September 18, 2014 at 10:45 pm

I have the same finished my 6 injections just over 4 weeks ago and had this horrid outbreak on my forehead, temples, chin,cheeks and chest had them for about 5 weeks now never had any problems with my skin or acne before how long does it last?? Its horrible and embarassing.

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robyn September 19, 2014 at 8:02 am

Me too. It came on over night practically and is all over my chin and neck. Its also slowly creeping up my cheeks towards my forehead. Help! I feel so much better on the shots but im depressed n embarrassed of how I look now……what to do!?!?!?

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Bisan October 2, 2014 at 11:49 am

This is my first time in my life i have Acne on my face,,,
i feel bad because Dr. when he gave me 10 B12 shots did not tell me this will effect my face in anyway,,,i have 5 months left them and i have bad acne no stops from appearing,,,,when will they stop ?

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heather October 21, 2014 at 2:58 pm

I’m on B12 shots 2ce a week and have horrible acne on my face, neck, back and chest. I can’t stop taking my shots BUT I feel like I’m going into a deep depression because I look like a teenager in puberty. My dermatologist hasn’t even been able to help me. I feel that I have to cover up every inch of skin because being able to see it is gross to me and it’s just making me extremely self conscious. Does anyone know of any “cure” for this?

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Krissy October 25, 2014 at 5:18 am

I was told I had a B12 deficiency and am now taking shots of B12. I take 10,000 mcgs every two weeks. I recently just had my third shot. I rarely have pimples and before taking the shots my face was clear. Now I have pimples all around my mouth and chin and small ones all over my forehead. It is very embarrassing and stressful.

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Saskia November 27, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Omg same here. I was told a while ago I had a deficiency so I have been taking supplements since August (almost 4 months ago) ca. every other day. Dosage was 5,000 mcg but it was an oral pill. However, I developed severe acne over my cheeks and neck and basically everywhere. I never looked like this – it is horrible! I never would have linked it to the vitamins but then my mom told me she heard this. I can’t believe this. I stopped a few days ago and I hope it will go away soon, but from what I read here it can take a while. I hope it’ll be faster! I dont even want to go out anymore.

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Kate DeGasperis December 1, 2014 at 7:54 pm

I started taking a hair vitamin that had a very high dosage of all types of Vitamin B. This included a high dose of B12 and B6, I began to see that a month in after taking this vitamin my skin was going crazy with acne flare ups. I had bad skin in my teenage years and even went on accutane to treat it, once the B12 and B6 was in my system my skin looked as if it did when I was a teenager. I had been going to my dermatologist not knowing what was the cause of my horrible skin returning and he put me back on all types of acne medication but the flare ups would still come. I am only just realizing now that these flare ups can be a cause of all this extra vitamin B I’m in taking and i was taking this vitamin for months. I’m very surprised my dermatologist didn’t see that the high levels of vitamin B I had in my system could of been a cause this whole time. Needless to say I would love to know how long it takes for this to leave the system, I want my skin back.

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