Can Vitamin B6 help reduce hormonal acne?
I've touched on hormonal acne a lot. And I'm going to touch on it again today because there's just so much to say, so much to cover! And frankly, so many women plagued with hormonal acne - and not every option is the right option for all.
Hormonal acne comes in many shapes and forms. Some people have legitimate conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), some have hyperandrogenism, and then there are the people like me who get every hormonal test in the book and they all come back stellar. They're just unfortunate enough to have an increased sensitivity to male hormones like testosterone, especially on the "hormonal" areas of the face.
This blog post is for the latter group of people. The people whose tests say they're fine, whose doctors say they're fine, but whose skin says otherwise!
I've gone over some ways to heal hormonal acne naturally in a blog post in the past, but there are still new ways that are surfacing that people may be interested in trying before resorting to things like birth control or isotretinoin.
One such way ... is with B vitamins.
But wait, don't B vitamins cause acne? At least that's what I said in this blog post: Could Your Multivitamin Be Causing Your Acne?
Yes, it's true, certain B vitamins may be linked to an increase in acne. Particularly the over-consumption of B vitamins, such as those found in multivitamins. This study on vitamin B6 and B12 and acne was done a long time ago, and certainly isn't conclusive. But again, these acne eruptions seemed to be linked to high doses of these vitamins.
This isn't to say that even low doses may not produce desired results in some people, but these cases are almost unanimously linked to extremely high doses, which are never a good idea to be taking, anyway. While 50 – 100 mg/day of the vitamin is sufficient to treat acne, doses higher than 250 mg/day cause acne breakouts.
So let's take a mosey at vitamin B6 for today.
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, like any vitamin, is needed for a wide range of bodily functions like cellular metabolism, energy production, red blood cell development, etc. Not only that, but vitamin B6 actually promotes healthy skin, by reducing its sensitivity to testosterone, as well as by participating in the synthesis of RNA and DNA, which contain the instructions for repair and growth of the epidermis which is affected by acne. The positive effects of vitamin B6 in acne treatment are generally attributed to the role of the vitamin in regulating hormone activity and prostaglandin action. Vitamin B6 can reduce the effects of testosterone and its metabolites such as dihydrotestosterone. By regulating these male sex hormones, vitamin B6 prevents the hormonal imbalance that causes acne.
One study even showed that supplementation with 50 – 250 mg/day of vitamin B6 was enough to significantly reduce sebum production and improve acne symptoms in 75% of the adolescents who took the vitamin.
If you're simply looking to add more B6 into your diet, which is always the healthiest and safest option, things like whole grains, peanuts, nuts/legumes, soybeans, walnuts, bananas and watermelon have an adequate supply of B6.
Admittedly, vitamin B6 is not as well researched as some other vitamins for use in acne treatment are, and the results are still mixed. Regardless, some studies have linked acne to B6 deficiencies, and some people have seen relief in acne symptoms following B6 supplementation. At this point, we do still need more research, but the prospect is promising.
Not to mention there's also been some research on the combination of vitamin B6 and zinc supplementation. Zinc, as we should all well know by now, is a mineral that has been shown to help alleviate acne, which I talk more about in my e-book. It's especially great for people with hormonal acne. Zinc is more readily absorbed and utilized in the body when B6 is present. Not only are both the vitamin and mineral involved in regulating hormones, but both also stimulate the immune system and wound healing.
In addition, vitamin B6 supplementation with magnesium increases the production of some female sex hormones such as progesterone. These hormones are known to be naturally anti-acne since they counter the effect of male sex hormones and restore hormonal balance.
If you're looking for a vitamin B6 to try out, I recommend this one.
Words of caution: Generally speaking, men who have acne don’t see their skin clear up when they take B6. Sorry, fellas. Also, if you have rosacea, vitamin B6 can interfere with the action of nicotinamide in your skin and make rosacea flares worse. Best to stay away in these two scenarios.