It may be important for brain and nervous system functioning, but in the fight against acne, it could be beneficial to pass up on supplements of vitamin B12, according to a new study.

Don’t pass up on leafy green vegetables and other natural sources of vitamin B12 – it’s an essential nutrient – but taking a supplemental dose might not be practical if you want to get rid of acne.

“Vitamin B12 is essential to us,” says lead author Li Huiying. “I hope people do not misinterpret the results of our study and think vitamin B12 is bad.”

You’ve probably heard of friendly gut bacteria that live in your intestines, keeping you healthy and the team of scientists from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) say it works a bit the same way on your face. The paper was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Yes, friendly facial bacteria can become unsettled by vitamin B12, leading to inflammation and eventually to pimples, according to their paper.

Vitamin B12 changes how genes behave in the facial microbiota – the term scientists use to describe the community of bacteria that lives on your face even after washing – leading to activity changes in these critters.

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After coming up with that as a hypothesis, the scientists tested it by analysing skin microbiota in healthy volunteers who took supplements of vitamin B12.

One of their 10 subjects developed acne within a week of vitamin B12 supplementation.

To further test their hypothesis, the scientists cultured acne-causing bacterium P. acnes and supplemented it with vitamin B12.

At this moment, they saw increased production of a group of organic compounds called porphyrins, which are well known to promote acne, according to the paper.

The idea that supplementing your diet with vitamin B12 brings about acne isn’t new; the scientists say in their paper that it’s been observed for sometime now, but they think their discovery of the molecular mechanism behind it could lead to new treatments.

“Some of the genes in the pathways described in our study potentially could be drug targets for new acne treatments,” says Huiying. – AFP Relaxnews