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Supplements that can Cause Acne

Do you know YOUR primary acne trigger? Still struggling with an unsure self-diagnosis?

We created a short quiz to help you Discover YOUR Complexion Triggers

All vitamins are good for you, right? Generally, this is true, but if you have acne-prone skin, this suddenly becomes a false statement.

If your acne has flared up or seems to be getting worse, you may want to look in your medicine cabinet for the supplements listed below that can cause acne.

Keep in mind, adding a vitamin or herbal supplement to your skincare routine can unexpectedly trigger a breakout. Below are a few of the common culprits that could be putting you at risk for flare-ups:

  • Vitamin B12: A study done at the University of California Los Angeles concludes that Vitamin B12 is linked to several instances of acne in people that take a B12 supplement. B12, naturally found in animal and dairy products, is essential to the body. Vegetarians and vegans or those not getting enough B12 in their diet can have serious health problems. However, an excess of B12 has been shown to cause a disruption in the skin bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes.

Although more research is required, if you have recently added a B12 supplement, or a multivitamin containing B12, this could be the culprit of your breakout.

  • Multivitamins: Most multivitamins contain iodine and biotin (B7), which when consumed on a regular basis, has been known to cause acne. If you are consuming more than the 150 mcg Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Iodine, then you are consuming too much. Keep in mind that is a daily total including food. If you eat any dairy products, seafood, seaweeds, soy products or “salty” foods, then you are already possible overdosing on iodine.

If you are not already consuming too much iodine in your diet (which most people do), then your multivitamin may be a cause of your acne.

Multivitamins also often contain high amounts B12 as we talked about and could also trigger your acne.

  • Biotin (Vitamin B7): Biotin is in Hair Skin and Nails supplements, B-Complex, multivitamins as well as nutritional drink powders found at your local health food store. Biotin causes acne because it is in so many places; including, your shampoo and conditioner, meaning the link between biotin and acne is extremely common.

Biotin & Acne

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Biotin is one of the worst offenders when it comes to acne because you would think that this supplement is good for acne- but it is not. Also known as B7 and Vitamin H, Biotin is already naturally produced by the body. Taking these supplements is not only unnecessary, but the excess amount of biotin causes acne. Since biotin is in hair, skin and nail vitamins, it continues to fly off the shelves.

Here are a few tips for staying Biotin-free:

  1. Toss the multivitamin- 99% of the multivitamins on the market contain biotin and, therefore, trigger acne. Even though they do contain other essential antioxidants and mineral, the biotin, unfortunately, ruins the whole thing. Try replacing your multivitamin with the Clear Skin Trio, a proven combination of supplements designed to clear acne and reduce inflammation from the inside out while delivering essential nutrients for overall wellness.
  2. Double check your nutritional drink powders- A lot of “healthy” nutritional drinks (even when sold by a health food store or by a friend representing a health and wellness company) can contain biotin or B7 as an added nutrient. There are lots of choices out there, so we recommend switching to something that is biotin-free to stay acne free.
  3. Check the ingredients on your shampoo and conditioner- make sure these beauty products are free of sodium lauryl and laureth sulfate (known pore cloggers) as well as biotin, B7 and Vitamin H.
  4. Minimize foods containing biotin- foods high in biotin include egg yolks, organ meats, avocados and cauliflower. These foods in moderation are best to help suppress the link between biotin and acne.

Remember that while the above-listed supplements may be an acne trigger, this is NOT the main cause of your acne. As we discussed on the What is Acne? Page, acne is first and foremost a genetic condition of the skin turning over too many dead skin cells (a process called retention hyperkeratosis). For some, taking out a supplement that triggers acne may do the trick. However, in most cases, the acne will also need to be treated with a topical homecare regimen as well.

If you are looking for vitamins for acne, read up on Vitamin A, Zinc and Selenium. This combination is a better alternative to other supplements that might potentially aggravate acne.

Take a look at our guide all about hormonal acne treatment for more information.

Ready to clear your acne once and for all? We can help

From our experience treating thousands of clients, acne usually appears to be triggered by a combination of issues, rather than one. That’s why a typical one-size-fits-all approach rarely works when it comes to clearing and controlling acne over the long run.

If you have tried it all and still have acne, our comprehensive 16-week Online Acne Program is the answer. Our Online Acne Program has a 95% success rate helping thousands of clients get clear. We can help you too!

Get started on your journey to clear by booking a 360 Complexion Analysis today.

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About the Author: Jessica Gremley

Jessica Gremley

Jessica has been a Medical Esthetician, Certified Acne Specialist & Healing Diets Coach since 2003. Like many, she struggled with acne and was frustrated with an endless cycle it clearing up and then returning. She became determined to find a way to clear acne without pharmaceuticals. Today, she offers a complete acne regimen - combining proven products, natural supplements and lifestyle changes - with a 95% success rate. Her Natural Acne Clinic just outside of Denver, Colorado and she also offers online treatment programs for people across the country.

16 comments

  1. Hi – I am interested in doing a online consultation for acne. I am a 66 year old femsle and I have had acne since I was 11. Throughout my life I have been on accutane three times, doxycycline and minocycline many times ( I can no longer take these as I developed quite a stubborn case of c- diff after bring on oral antibiotics for 3 years for lyme ( which I am still being treated for with antimicrobials and vitamin c through a picc line . I use a foundation for coverage made by Vichy and my skin is oily but peeling at the same time with patches of eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis . Lately I have been getting cystic acne on my forhead and around my mouth and chin. My dermatologist says it is peri oral dermatitis and has given me some creams that have not worked.
    Please advise how to schedule an appointment with you – I live in Connecticut.

  2. Hi Jessica,

    I notice that you have warned against sodium lauryl sulphate (sls) in shampoos and conditioners. However sls is one of the last ingredients in your acne vitamin. Is it acting as a preservative?

    1. Hi Colette,
      Great question! Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a pore clogging ingredient when used in laundry detergent and cleanser. In other words, it clogs the pores from the outside in. It is not problematic with the Vitamedica Healthy Skin supplement we recommend.

      -Jessica
      Natural Acne Clinic Founder

  3. Thank you! I am 52 years old and have had such a bad breakout of acne, I thought it was shingles! I stopped taking the Biotin two days ago and will take it no longer.

    1. That’s great Linda! I hope you have noticed a difference. Acne can be due to various different “triggers”, such as also diet or hormones. If you are still breakout out a Virtual Consultation with one of our Clear Skin Coaches will help you identify your primary acne triggers!

  4. The only reason I was taking a multivitamin was to get more energy and for good health. I have noticed that it has caused me to break out more… do you recommend an alternative that will help with energy levels?

  5. I took the quiz and it showed me that I have gut imbalance, it seems to be right since I only got acnes on both side of my cheeks (by the ear areas). What can I do to rebalance my gut health?

    1. Hi Peta, if you are just interested in re-balancing gut health, I would recommend our Probiotic-8 for Acne, by VitaMedica. This probiotic supplement will work to replenish beneficial gut bacteria, and contains strains of bacteria that specifically target acne. You will notice that your digestive health improves, and with it, your acne. If you are interested in targeting the acne topically as well as internally, I would recommend Natural Acne Clinic’s 16-week online program to get clear and balanced, inside and out.

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