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Bacteria are incredibly important for the quality of your skin. (I have talked about this on the blog previously in this post: Topical Probiotics: Can applying bacteria to your face cure acne?)

Recent studies have shown that they are even more important than we ever thought.

It has also been rumored in the dermatological community since the 1950s or so that vitamin B12 causes acne.

Molecular pharmacologist Huiying Li decided to investigate both phenomena at once. Is there a relationship between vitamin B12 and skin bacteria?

Li and team examined the gene expression of bacteria on people’s skin, and then injected them with B12 and examined them again.

They found that vitamin B12 altlers the metabolic activity of the skin bacteria propionibacterium acnes.

These bacteria, propionibacterium acnes, naturally secrete vitamin B12. They create it on their own. Yet when the supply of B12 to the skin from the human host increases beyond natural levels–such as when injected with B12 or when taking a multivitamin–the bacteria stop producing their own B12.

When they stop producing their own B12, they begin producing porphyrin molecules.

Porphyrins cause inflammation, and therefore acne.

This effect was witnessed by Li and team when they injected people with clear skin with B12. Before the injection, their skin was clear and the genetic expression normal. After the injection, the genetic expression was altered and the skin was no longer clear.

In fact, the amount of genetic expression of the propionibacterium acnes of this B12-related gene decreasedd in these people who had previously had clear skin to levels of genetic expression Li and team saw in people who already had acne.

Basically, vitamin B12 injections made clear skin become acne prone skin.

A week after receiving the vitamin B12 injection, one of the 10 participants broke out in pimples. That person’s P. acnes gene-expression pattern also changed, the researchers found. Before the B12 injection, it was similar to those of the other healthy participants, but 14 days after the vitamin B12 shot, it looked much more like an acne patient’s pattern.

The researchers also did experiments on P. acnes growing in lab dishes.They found that when they added vitamin B12 to the bacteria, the microbes started producing compounds the porphyrins, which promote inflammation and acne.

What to do about it

-Do you suffer from acne? If you eat a nourishing, high-quality whole foods diet and do not take any supplements, you probably don’t have anything to worry about from vitamin B12. 

In case you are curious, however, foods that are naturally high in vitamin B12 are liver, eggs, red meat, shellfish, crab, cheese, mackerel, low fat dairy products, tuna, turkey, poultry, and all seafood products.

Basically, B12 is found in high quality animal products. Liver is the highest dose of B12.

I always wondered why I broke out when I ate liver, even though it was supposed to be such a healthy food. This problem with B12 explains why. Knowing this reassures me about my health when I eat liver. The reason I was breaking out wasn’t because I was unhealthy, but was rather because of the genetic expression of the bacteria in my skin. I should keep eating liver (or taking desiccated liver supplements!) like I always have been, despite the occasional zit.

-If you take a multivitamin that contains B12, a B-complex with B12, or Brewer’s yeast, you may wish to lower your dose or to stop taking the supplement for 2 weeks, to see if you notice any changes in the quality of your skin.

-I highly recommended considering a high-quality topical probioitic which will increase the amount of “good” bacteria in your skin and reduce its level of inflammation. You can use a probiotic spray like I do. This is the one I personally use, by the company Probiotic Action, here.

-You can also use a probiotic moisturizer. My favorite is the Eminence Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer, which you can get on Amazon here.

-If you want to learn more about acne, check out my post on the topic: Everything You Need to Know about Acne in 3000 Words, the very popular Hormonal Acne: Where It’s Coming From and What to Do About it or The Ultimate Hormonal Acne Treatment Plan. You could also take a look at my page on acne, and see all my favorite acne links!

Most of all I recommend checking out my 100% risk free program, Clear Skin Unlocked: The Ultimate Guide to Acne Freedom and Flawless Skin. It is the most comprehensive acne and skincare program I have found to date. 


What do you think? Might there be a relationship between B12 and acne in your experience?

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