The Importance of Vitamin B12 for Skin Health
Vitamin B12 is a fundamental substance which is highly beneficial for human health. From keeping our skin perfectly smooth and luminous to stimulating the production of blood cells and protecting our nerves and immune system, this Vitamin has too many effects on your body to name them all. Adequate levels of vitamin B12 are critical to keeping your skin, hair, and nails healthy, strong and radiant since they’re needed to prevent serious skin conditions as well as many other minor ailments.
Even when the dietary intake of this vitamin through food or supplements is sufficient, our skin is exposed every day to so many potentially harmful agents that nourishing it directly is much more effective to maintain its natural glow and brightness. Let’s have a look.
What is Vitamin B12?
Also known as cobalamin, Vitamin B12 is a critical molecule required by every single cell of the human body. The largest and most complicated of all the eight essential B vitamins, the importance of B12 for human health is astounding since it is involved in countless physiological functions, from the synthesis of vital nerve structures to the development of functional red blood cells. Without this molecule, many metabolic functions just stop, leading to serious long-term damage and many severe ailments.
Probably, its most known function is its coenzyme role in the DNA synthesis during cell division and replication. When c is insufficient, all cells that replicate at higher rates throughout the body are those who suffer the most damage, such as blood, hair and skin cells.
That’s why cobalamin deficiency is associated with several skin conditions – from minor ones such as dryness and redness, to more serious ones including eczema, atopic dermatitis, and vitiligo. Visible signs of vitamin B12 shortage include hyperpigmentation and pale skin, possibly due to the release of the pigment bilirubin from damaged red blood cells.
Needless to say, nourishing your skin with a constant supply of cobalamin it’s vital to prevent these deficiency symptoms from ruining it, but there’s more than that.
Dermatological applications of Vitamin B12
Dermatology books describe countless different skin conditions whose severity often varies significantly, as well as the time required to heal them. Vitamin B12 can be used to treat several of them, such as eczema, an allergic reaction that causes the skin to become red and inflamed. This substance is, in fact known for its ability to modulate the immune response and reduce inflammation, which may also be the reason why it was found to be helpful in patients affected by psoriasis as well.
Together with folic acid and a healthy amount of sun exposure, cobalamin was found to be able to induce repigmentation in patients affected by vitiligo. Many conditions such as psoriasis mentioned above, acne, and atopic dermatitis have been associated with reduced levels of B12, even when appropriate amounts of this molecule are provided in the diet.
How does Vitamin B12 help your skin’s health?
If you want your skin to be radiant and supple, you don’t want to run low on Vitamin B12. Our skin has many functions: it regulates body temperature, protects our body from external agents, maintains water balance, and acts as a sense organ.
It is composed of two principal layers: the outermost one known as the epidermis, and a deeper one known as the dermis. The epidermis is an external layer that shields us from microbes, fungi, and other pathogens, and helps to keep water in the body (hydration). This layer is composed mostly of cells called keratinocytes, but it also contains other cells with different functions such as the melanocytes, which are responsible for skin color.
The dermis is an inner layer that protects the body from stress and trauma by acting as a cushion and provides nourishment to the epidermis. This layer is, in fact, rich in blood vessels as well as nerve fibers and receptors that provide touch and temperature perception. The deeper portion of several glands and the hair follicles are also found inside the dermis.
Your skin is constantly exposed to a never-ending barrage of potentially damaging agents. It acts as a “shield” that protects you from external attacks such as weather agents (wind, rain, snow), high temperatures, sea salt, sun rays, and other radiations. And if that wasn’t enough, since its cells replicate at such a high speed, skin must also take the brunt of many harmful substances you introduce in your bodies such as alcohol, tobacco smoking, and junk food. All these “bad things” are, in fact, rich sources of hazardous free radicals, which are responsible for precocious skin aging.
Vitamin B12 protects your skin from all these sources of oxidative stress directly since it is an antioxidant, and indirectly since it is a critical nutrient used by cells which are resisting against exposure. Think about cobalamin as “ammo” used by your dermal cells which act as “entrenched soldiers” to defend your body against hazardous agents. Even if you do not suffer from a detectable food-related Vitamin B12 deficiency, excess exposure may lead to localized damage when this ammo temporarily runs out, causing blemishes and wrinkles to appear.
That’s why only topical products such as creams, ointments, and serums can make the difference (and a big difference, indeed) since they provide this nutrient when it’s needed and directly where it’s needed.
The use of Vitamin B12 in cosmetics
Vitamins are a potent and effective cosmetic active agent, and a popular component of physiological and natural skincare products. The addition of cobalamin as a revolutionary ingredient for new-generation skin care serums and creams is a true novelty. The other vitamins of the B group such as niacin (B3) and pantothenic acid (B5) have been used for years already, but very few manufacturers found a reliable method to include this highly-effective substance in their formulas.
However, the effects of Vitamin B12 on the skin are amazing, indeed. Clinical results showed substantial increase in skin firmness and elasticity in test subjects after a few weeks of treatment. This molecule is highly appreciated for its smoothing effect, and its ability to improve skin density and hydration while reducing wrinkles and redness at the same time.
Healthy vitamin B12 levels play a major part in cell rejuvenation and benefit your skin health by preventing many conditions as well as dryness, dehydration, inflammation, and blemishes. Food supplementation is important, but nothing can substitute cosmetic products that provides this nutrient directly to those cells which need it the most.
- James, William; Berger, Timothy; Elston, Dirk (2005). Andrews’ Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology (10th ed.). Saunders.
- Brescoll, J. & Daveluy, S. A Review of Vitamin B12 in Dermatology. Am J Clin Dermatol (2015) 16: 27. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40257-014-0107-3
- Kannan R, Ng MJ. Cutaneous lesions and vitamin B12 deficiency: an often-forgotten link. Can Fam Physician. 2008;54(4):529-32.