Can Vitamins Cause Acne? An Expert's Perspective

Collagen supplements have been touted as essential for glowing skin, but it's important to know that some contain sulfites and can cause skin congestion, according to Dr. Kan Cao, the scientist behind and founder of Bluelene. If you notice an outbreak, Dr. Jessie Cheung, a board-certified dermatologist based in Chicago, recommends stopping the supplement and focusing on prebiotics instead.

Prebiotics nourish good probiotic bacteria that fight bad inflammatory bacteria and improve nutrient absorption. Iodine is a common ingredient in multivitamins, and ingesting too much of it can lead to an influx of whiteheads and inflammatory acne on your face, chest, and back, according to Dennis Gross, MD. This occurs when iodine causes inflammation of the sebaceous glands and a change in the chemistry of the oil it produces naturally. To avoid breakouts caused by iodine, choose supplements such as vitamin D, zinc, or fish oil to keep your skin balanced and clear. Biotin is another B vitamin that has been linked to acne. Too much biotin can affect the body's absorption of B5, which helps regulate the skin barrier and reduces fat production.

A lower amount of B5 can cause acne breakouts. If you're taking a high-dose biotin supplement and notice flare-ups, switch to a lower dose. Whey protein shakes are great for building strong muscles, but they can also increase breakouts in women, according to Hannah Braye, a nutritional therapist and senior technical advisor at Bio-Kult. This is because whey protein contains several acne-related growth hormones. Instead of whey protein, choose an alternative such as hemp that doesn't include any additives or preservatives. Research suggests that B vitamins (a complex of eight water-soluble vitamins) can cause outbreaks.

Certain B vitamins are more likely to be to blame than others; for example, vitamin B12 or cobalamin supplements can affect acne by altering the metabolism of skin bacteria that normally contribute to acne formation. Vitamin B7 (biotin) can limit the absorption of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), which is important for maintaining the skin barrier and preventing acne. Multivitamins often contain large amounts of nutrients that can cause acne in excess. This includes vitamin B12, biotin, and calcium. According to Dr.

Brendan Camp, a board-certified dermatologist, vitamin B12 consumption can alter the skin's microbiome and cause inflammatory acne in some people – especially when taken in higher doses such as injectable vitamin B12. Most multivitamins contain between 100% and 3,000% of the recommended daily intake of biotin – especially if they're marketed to women. Research shows that there is a decrease in vitamin B12 levels after acne treatment when serum vitamin B12 levels are measured before and after treatment. Vitamin C supplements are more effective against acne when applied topically rather than swallowed as a pill or tablet. Vitamins B6, B12, and whey protein (&) are known to exaggerate acne breakouts in adolescents and young adults. While it has long been debated whether multivitamins work or not, it's no secret that many popular multivitamins sold today are packed with certain vitamins and minerals that can cause acne. Plants contain beta-carotene – a form of vitamin A – which must be converted to retinol (vitamin A) for the body to use.

Vitamin B12 has also been shown to aid the anaerobic metabolism of Propionobacterium acnes – the microorganism behind acne. High-dose vitamin B6 and B12 supplements can make existing acne worse – more common in women than men. In short, multivitamins contain too many of the wrong substances (nutrients that cause acne in excess) and not enough of the right substances (nutrients that prevent acne). There are many reasons why your skin might clear up after you stop taking the multivitamin or switch to supplements that don't harm your skin. Most vitamins contain folic acid or ascorbic acid – forms of vitamin B and vitamin C that are not easily converted into useful nutrients.

Ben Liebhardt
Ben Liebhardt

Amateur travel fanatic. General web buff. Certified travel junkie. Twitter nerd. Infuriatingly humble web practitioner. Certified beer nerd.

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