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Link Between B12 and Acne Remains Unclear

A study found that vitamin B12 may play a role in promoting the development of acne, although the conclusions are far from certain. Published in Science Translational Medicine, the study compared the skin microbiota (symbiotic microorganisms, especially bacteria, living on the skin) of people with acne to those of people without acne. To help explain vitamin B12’s possible role in altering this bacterial activity and the contribution of the bacteria to the development of acne, researchers administered a B12 supplement to ten healthy adults without acne. Here are their findings:

  • One of the ten people developed acne within one week of starting the supplement.
  • Analysis of the skin microbiota from the ten subjects revealed that B12 production in Propionibacterium acnes (a skin microorganism) was reduced after supplementation with vitamin B12.
  • Colonies of P. acnes grown in the lab increased their production of porphyrins—compounds that have been shown to increase skin inflammation in cases of acne—when vitamin B12 was added to their growth medium.

Before throwing out your B12, however, remember that acne is a complicated condition with a number of contributing factors. While the findings from this study are intriguing and may help us to better understand the relationships between nutrition, microbiota, and skin health, they do not clearly show whether B12 supplementation is problematic in people with acne, and, in fact, showed that almost everyone in the study with healthy skin didn't develop acne when they took B12. Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient crucial for normal neurologic function, red blood cell production, and DNA synthesis. B12 deficiency can result in anemia, digestive problems, cognitive impairment and memory loss, irritability and depression, fatigue and weakness, and other kinds of neurological problems.

Source: Science Translational Medicine

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