Can Supplements Cause Acne?

While hormonal imbalances, genetics, and poor skincare habits are well-known causes of acne, did you know that some medications and supplements can also cause acne breakouts? Certain vitamins, minerals, and supplements like B6/B12, iodine, whey protein, and muscle-building supplements can trigger acne, as can medications like steroids, birth control pills, and anti-tuberculosis drugs. In this post, we’ll explore the different types of drugs and supplements that can cause acne and how they affect your skin

A pile of supplement tablets and capsules

Supplements that might cause acne

Vitamin B6 and B12 supplements

Taking too much Vitamin B6 and B12 can cause or make acne worse, especially for women. For example, taking more than 5 to 10 mg of Vitamin B12 per week, or taking it for a long time, has been reported to cause acne. But, it’s important to remember that the right amount of both vitamins B6 and B12 is important for your overall health and skin.

Iodine, including seaweed supplements

Excess iodine can lead to acne breakouts or worsen existing acne. Iodine is also found in supplements like kelp seaweed and teas. There is a theory that the connection between dairy consumption and acne in some patients could be due to the iodine content in milk, which comes from animal feed and milking solutions containing iodine.

It’s worth noting that the only cases of iodine-induced acne that have been medically documented were from taking oral iodine supplements or drugs. However, it’s possible that topical cosmetics with iodine, such as kelp or other seaweed, could also contribute to acne through causing local irritation in skin.

Please remember that normal levels of iodine are needed for your health.

Whey protein

There have been reports of various whey protein supplements causing or worsening acne. Whey protein is a common ingredient in protein shakes, as well as power bars and other sports nutrition products.

Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS)

These are supplements used by bodybuilders to increase muscle mass. A common side effect of these steroids is acne. Even if bodybuilders are not intentionally using steroids, they may still be present in other muscle-building supplements they take. In a study of 776 supplements from the FDA Tainted Supplements database, 89% of “muscle building supplements” were found to be contaminated with steroid-like ingredients or synthetic steroids.

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About The Author

Maria Semykoz

Science communicator. Co-founder at WIMJ