• Vitamin B12

High levels of vitamin B12 and potential acne outbreaks

There has recently been a great deal of focus on Vitamin B12. This substance is important for several processes in your body including the proper functioning of the nervous system. A deficiency can cause symptoms such as fatigue, tingling and lapses in concentration, as well as menstrual problems and depression. Such symptoms are not always caused by a lack of vitamin B12 though. Therefore don’t increase your intake just because you recognise these symptoms in yourself. You should always consult your doctor first. It is commonly thought that extra or too much of it won’t do any harm, especially if it is a water soluble vitamin like B12. But this cannot be said with certainty. What I can say is that I have been asked a few times whether extra vitamin B12 can cause acne. This, I have been looking into…

Link between vitamin B12 and acne bacteria

I found a study from 2015 wherein it was demonstrated that B12 can cause a change in the behaviour of certain skin bacteria. That’s interesting isn’t it? The authors of this study observed in the laboratory that B12 can cause the bacteria C. acnes (previously known as the bacteria P.acnes) to produce inflammatory factors. And that can ultimately contribute to the development of acne. In the same study the researchers observed 10 volunteers and saw that 1 volunteer had already developed spots after the first week of taking a supplement.

People who think that a B12 supplement can cause acne may be right. It would be great if further research would be carried out on this.

Foods containing vitamin B12

In order to get enough B12 I would firstly focus on your diet. Below you will find a list of the foods which will provide you with vitamin B12.


Foods per portion Amount of Vitamin B12 % of the recommended daily amounts for adults (2,8 micrograms/day)
Boiled egg (47 grams) 0,72 micrograms 26%
Beef steak cooked (100 grams) 1,70 micrograms 61%
Cooked salmon (75 grams) 3,0 micrograms 107%
Cooked mussels (200 grams)* 38,32 micrograms 1368%
Vegetarian burger fortified (100 grams) 0,5 micrograms 18%
Oatmeal drink fortified (150 grams) 0,57 micrograms 20%

*Mussels contain a lot of vitamin B12. The question is whether you actually consume that much because the shellfish are cooked in water.

Source: RIVM Nevo table (https://nevo-online.rivm.nl/)

My advice: get as much vitamin B12 from your diet

Try and get as much B12 from your diet as you can. Are you at risk of, or worried about, a deficiency, or do you just want to be sure? Then discuss it with your doctor or dietician first of all. It is a good idea to subsequently have your vitamin B12 levels checked. If there is a deficiency the usual advice is to take a supplement. In some cases the administering of B12 injections is recommended.

What if you take supplements and you have an acne complaint?

Not everyone who takes a B12 preparation has a problem with acne. It appears to occur mainly when high dosage supplements are taken. We are talking about a dosage of around 500 micrograms per day. You only need 2.8 micrograms a day…
If you take extra B12 and do get a problem with your skin, my tip is to take a supplement with this high amount (more than 100 micrograms per dosage) just once or twice a week. Do talk to your doctor though. Perhaps you can change to a lower dosage (less than or equal to 100 micrograms) that you can take daily.

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