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Vitamin B6 for acne is not for everyone. It's not for men at all, and it's not appropriate for treating acne in women who have passed women. But women of reproductive age who have premenstrual or mid-cycle acne may find vitamin B6 to be very helpful in clearing up the skin.
The women who benefit from B6 tend to the those who have a luteal phase disorder, causing the menstruation to come too soon after ovulation. It's as if the second "half" of the menstrual cycle were shorter than the first.
Taking a relatively high dose of vitamin B6, 250 mg a day, with magnesium, at least 200 mg a day, often clears up this kind of acne, but only in women. The combination of vitamin B6 and magnesium increases the production of progesterone in the luteal, second phase of menstruation, delaying the surge in estrogen that causes PMS symptoms including acne. The use of B6 and magnesium not only clears up the skin, but it also often stops irritation, bloating, headache, and mood swings.
Does vitamin B6 cause acne?
However, high-dose B6 along with high-dose B12, like high-dose niacin by itself, can aggravate the skin condition known as rosacea. If you have rosacea, you should avoid all high-dose B vitamins, especially niacin, but you would also be unusually sensitive to B6 and B12.
Far more acne sufferers benefit from B6 treatment than are sensitive to it. Especially if you are treated with the drug isotretinoin, also known as Accutane, you are risk for developing high levels of a compound called homocysteine.
Homocysteine is a chemical made as a step in the body's manufacture of s-adenosylmethionine, or SAM-e. If it builds up in the bloodstream, it can irritate blood vessels, brain tissue, and the skin. Ironically, Accutane heals deep-seated cysts by causing inflammation that literally allows the skin to open up over the cysts with lancing or surgery, but excessive homocysteine levels can be a problem through the body.
The buildup of homocysteine is countered by taking vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin B12, up to 25 times the recommended daily dosage (50 mg of B6 per day, 10 mg of folic acid per day, and 1000 micrograms of B12 per day, B12 sometimes given by injection). This stops Accutane-induced acne and prevents cardiovascular complications of this commonly prescribed acne treatment.
Schulpis KH, Karikas GA, Georgala S, Michas T, Tsakiris S.
Elevated plasma homocysteine levels in patients on isotretinoin therapy for cystic acne. Int J Dermatol. 2001 Jan;40(1):33-6.
Sherertz EF. Acneiform eruption due to megadose vitamins B6 and B12. Cutis. 1991 Aug;48(2):119-20.