Is Vitamin B12 Causing Your Acne?

Skin experts have long known about the link between acne and dairy, but a recent study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has made the connection even clearer.
It turns out that Vitamin B12, an essential mineral abundant in meat, fish and dairy, is the root cause of many severe acne problems.

"It has been reported several times that people who take B12 develop acne. So it’s exciting that we found that the potential link between B12 and acne is through the skin bacteria,” said study co-author Huiying Li, a molecular pharmacologist.
People who are prone to acne tend to absorb a great deal of the B12 from the food they eat into their skin, where it stimulates the skin bacterium Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) to release a chemical called porphyrins. Porphyrins, in turn, trigger the skin inflammation that leads to severe acne problems.
Li clarified that “Inflammation is one of the factors of acne. There are non-inflammatory, usually mild [forms of acne]. The severe [acne] usually involves a lot of inflammation in skin cells.”
Until further information is known about this, however, caution should be taken when avoiding vitamin B12 in the diet. B12 is essential for proper red blood cell formation, neurological function and DNA synthesis. A diet low in B12 can often lead to lethargy, poor memory and depression.   
"The main message is that skin bacteria are important," Li says. “They're contributing members of our skin's society, and they like to do things in a certain manner. But until other researchers confirm the link between B12 and acne in a larger number of people, dermatologists won’t really be able to make any clinical recommendations one way or the other. I don't want people to misinterpret the results by not taking B12.”

--- Cosmetic Medicine, MD

Dr. Liow Tiong Sin is an aesthetic practitioner who practices in Kuala Lumpur and Melaka, Malaysia. He has more than 15 years of expertise with non-surgical cosmetic treatments, and conducts training courses for other doctors from all around Asia.

To connect with Dr. Liow, Like Cosmedmd's Facebook page, visit Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre's website at or drop him an email at

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