Dermatologist warns of two commonly-taken supplements that could be giving you zits

Americans love a supplement. Around three quarters of us say they take them, according to a recent survey by the Council for Responsible Nutrition.

But vitamin pills are still medicine and, in high enough quantities, can cause side effects – including skin problems, a top dermatologist has warned.

Dr Charles Puza, a New York-based board-certified dermatologist, took to TikTok to highlight one lesser-known risk of two of the most popular supplements.

‘High dose vitamin B6 and B12 is associated with causing acne and worsening acne,’ he wrote in a text inset on a video that has so far garnered 41,000 views.

Beside his comments were images of bottles of the capsules, as well as a pack of multivitamins which often contain high doses of the vitamin, he says.

 Both B vitamins are important for healthy red blood cells and energy levels. B6 is particularly important for helping the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates in food.

Vitamin B12 and B6 are both found in a range of foods. Vitamin B12 is in meat, fish, milk and eggs, while B6 is in pork, poultry, some fish and oats, among other foods.

 According to Govenment guidance, adults should have around 2.4 micrograms of Vitamin B12 per day, and between 1.3 and 1.7 milligrams of B6, depending on sex and age.

 However, some supplements contain way above this. For instance, Nature Made’s Super B Energy Complex, Dietary Supplement for Brain Cell Function Support contains six micrograms of B12. 

75 percent of Americans say they take supplements, and around half say they take them regularly, studies show.

And the same brand’s B6 tablets contains 100mg of B6 per tablet – 58 times the recommended intake.

While other side effects only tend to occur with megadoses of B12 – such as above 500 or 1000 – Dr Puza says acne may be a side effect of your drugstore supplements.

Some experts say that taking about 50mg of vitamin B6 can increase the risk of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and nerve problems. 

Other experts have explained that the compound can enter the bloodstream and somehow interact with the bacteria that live on your skin, causing breakouts. 

A 2015 study of acne patients showed that an injection of vitamin B12 can change the DNA of a common acne bacteria found in pores.

 Other research has found that vitamin B12 can help the microorganism behind acne, called Propionobacterium acnes, stay alive by helping them breathe. 

In 2020, a review published in the Dermatology Online journal concluded that high doses of vitamin B6 may cause skin lesions. 

It was however inconclusive on the underlying biological processes that may be driving this change.