It has been known for a long time that the B Vitamins aggravate acne eruptions. Until recently the understanding of why this occurs has
eluded many. Recent research, however, has revealed that the acne bacteria, Vitamin B12, and skin microbiome have an intertwined relationship.
Research has identified that there is a difference between gene expression of skin bacteria in acne patients, compared to healthy individuals with clear skin. They found that the B12 synthesis pathway of Propionibacterium acnes (P.acne) in acne patients was low compared to healthy individuals, which led them to study the relationship between B12 and acne. Many bacteria need B12 for metabolic activity and they have the ability to synthesize their own.
What the research found is that when B12 is supplemented that the bacteria stopped producing their own supplies and instead begin producing porphyrin molecules. Porphyrins can generate inflammation and acne is triggered by inflammation initially. Vitamin B12 actually altered the normal metabolic pathway and activity of the skin bacteria. B12 supplementation can make clear skin become prone to acne skin. Which has been evidenced by the increase in breakouts post vitamin B12 supplementation.
Researchers also observed that another pathway, the porphyrin biosynthesis, is linked to the B12 biosynthesis pathway. They hypothesize that when there is an elevated B12 level, it leads to an overproduction of porphyrins by P.acnes. Previous studies have shown that porphyrin can induce inflammation and acne.
So what can you do?
Avoid supplements that have high doses of vitamin B12 in them. Be aware of foods high in vitamin B12. Milk, Cheese, Liver, Kidney, Pate, Clams, Crab, Oysters, and Mussels all contain high levels of vitamin B12.