Debunking Nutrition Myths: Vitamin B6/B12 & Acne
Before we get started, a few ESSENTIAL things to note:
1️⃣ There are influencers ALL over social media now that are spewing nutrition misinformation, some of them even perceived as or claiming to be “experts”.
No RD credential = not a nutrition expert 💁🏻♀️
It’s as simple as that. This applies to ALL influencers, even those that have lost weight, gained muscle, “transformed their body”, “fixed their gut”, “fixed their hormones”, “fixed their metabolism”, “took this supplement that fixed all their problems”, and the list goes on.
2️⃣ Just because it worked for one random human, it certainly doesn’t mean the same intervention will work for someone else.
Not to mention, there is no context on what their many other factors of health look like BEYOND their physical health (how your organs are functioning/working together, your lab values, nutrition markers, cognitive function, ACTUAL gut health, menstrual cycle, etc.)
Would you want a person just REALLY interested in surgeries to perform your procedure?
Didn’t think so.
Nutrition goes FAR beyond what meets the eye 🔎
🙋♀️That is why we at @a4healthcoach use evidence-based nutrition interventions that are proven to improve even the invisible markers of your health.
3️⃣Although it is not something many want to hear, optimal health requires SUSTAINABLE, LONG-TERM, NON-EXTREME, REALISTIC HABITS. 💯
That being said, let’s get into our first nutrition myth swarming around social media right now ⬇️
“B6 & B12 cause acne”
Let’s break it down ⬇️
B12 and B6 don’t not inherently cause acne. They are essential nutrients for the body, making such a claim just silly.
If someone begins taking a supplement and they start seeing skin changes, a few things need to be investigated:
1️⃣ DO YOU EVEN NEED TO TAKE THE SUPPLEMENT?
This can be determined by working with a Registered Dietitian. Some supplements can be extremely beneficial, especially the single vitamin or mineral supplements to correct deficiencies, but most on the market are not and even can be dangerous 🚨
2️⃣ WHAT IS THE SAFETY OF THE SUPPLEMENT?
If it is not third party tested, it is free for all in terms of what is in the supplement you are consuming. Anything could be in the supplement, it is not regulated 🚫 Dietitians can help you choose a product that is safe and effective for YOUR needs ☑️
3️⃣ WHAT ELSE IS IN THE SUPPLEMENT?
There could be a variety of reasons your supplement is causing skin irritations that have nothing to do with the main ingredient, but all the other ingredients, additives or preservatives in your supplement. This is where the importance of 3rd party testing comes into play!
4️⃣ WHAT IS THE DOSAGE?
This is where those acne claims on B6 and B12 are sneaky.
That’s the problem with MANY health trends that are correct in the most rare situations and capacities: they take the absolute EXTREMES and make it the rule, which causes fear-mongering to many consumers 🙁
EXCESSIVE vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 provided to the body, mainly administered through IV (not in an oral supplement), have shown to cause acne breakouts in *some* individuals.
B12 (Cobalamin) ⬇️
The molecular mechanism for vitamin B12 in acne pathogenesis is not understood. However, research has indicated that vitamin B12 biosynthesis gene expression in the skin bacteria Propionibacterium Acnes (p. acnes), thought to be a pathogenic factor for acne, is downregulated in individuals with acne compared to those without acne.
Recent research has found that vitamin b12 regulates its own biosynthesis pathway and when it is supplemented to the body in high amounts (1mg hydroxocobalamin - b12 administered via IV nutrition therapy), causing the body’s serum b12 levels to increase 7x its normal range for about 14 days, the vitamin b12 pathway is downregulated in some individuals. This downregulation leads to a significant spike in porphyrin production, secreted by p. acnes, which triggers an inflammatory response in the skin to then lead to a transcriptional change and cause the development of acne.
Some individuals with certain gene expression levels are more susceptible to this change than others. For this reason, a recent study concluded that only 1 of the 10 individuals receiving b12 supplementation via IV therapy developed acne. There have been very specific case-by-case studies where individuals have developed forms of rosacea from excessive b6 or b12 supplementation.
❗️Regardless, if a person’s serum b12 levels are within the normal range, there is no overproduction of porphyrin and no concern for the development of acne from vitamin b12 supplementation ❗️
There is a *small possibility* that HIGH amounts of b12 supplementation, causing serum b12 levels to be well above normal levels, could lead to initiating or worsening acne in SOME individuals that have the gene expression levels that are sensitive to this change. This will not limit you from supplementation if you are deficient and have been instructed to take this vitamin on its own, from a trusted brand, by your Registered Dietitian.
Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin B12:
Males and females ages 19+: 2.4 mcg
*needs change when pregnant or breastfeeding
B6 (Pyridoxine) ⬇️
Regarding vitamin b6, the research is extremely limited, and there is not an understanding of the development of acne from this supplementation and the dose-dependent response required to trigger acne.
RDA for vitamin B6 =
Both males and females ages 19-50: 1.2 mg
Males ages 51+: 1.7 mg
Females ages 50+: 1.3 mg
*needs change when pregnant or breastfeeding
💯The reasons above are perfect examples of why it is VITAL to consult with a doctor to assess any medical concerns, as well as a Dietitian to assess and address your nutritional needs and any possible deficiencies to ensure safe supplementation, IF needed 💯
*Please note: This is solely for educational purposes and it shouldn’t be used as a diagnosis.
Jansen, T., Romiti, R., Kreuter, A., & Altmeyer, P. (2001). Rosacea fulminans triggered by high-dose vitamins B6 and B12. Journal of the European Academy of
Dermatology and Venereology, 15(5), 484–485. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1468-3083.2001.00308.x
Kang, D., Shi, B., Erfe, M. C., Craft, N., & Li, H. (2015). Vitamin B12 modulates the transcriptome of the skin microbiota in acne pathogenesis. Science Translational
Medicine, 7(293). https://doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aab2009
Zamil, D., Perez-Sanchez, A., & Katta, R. (2020). Acne related to dietary supplements. Dermatology Online Journal, 26(8), 2.
Until Next Time,
Your RD Fuel Good Experts 🍍