B Vitamins for the Skin
by Isobel Washington
B Vitamins for the Skin
The B vitamin group includes eight chemically distinct vitamins that collectively form the vitamin B complex. Before scientific research delivered accurate information linking health and vitamins, the distinctive B vitamins were believed to be one single vitamin B. This notion went unquestioned for a lengthy period, since B vitamin food sources often contain a cluster of B family members. A proper summary of B complex's function as essential nutrients in the body is its vital role in cell metabolism. The combined work of the diverse B family members yields a synergy of benefits; however, each has a distinct function and role in the body's health. Certain B vitamins are key players in the functionality, appearance and overall health of the skin: B3, B5 and B12.
Vitamin B3: Niacinamide
Vitamin B3 often goes under the name of one of its two forms: niacin, also called nicotinic acid, or niacinamide, also called nicotinamide. Both have identical vitamin functions, but differ in toxicity and pharmacologic properties. Niacin is not the favorable form of B3 for the skin, as its overabundance in the body can cause rashes, hives and skin flushing. On the other hand, a multitude of recent clinical tests and scientific studies have uncovered niacinamide's substantial positive influence on the skin.
Niacinimide's Skin Care Benefits
Functioning similarly to an antioxidant, niacinamide's topical application is effective in protecting the skin against environmental influences. In aging skin, when skin cell turnover begins to slow, niacinamide enforces steady turnover, implying a high value in the anti-aging skin care sector. The combination of these benefits offers an additional benefit to problematic skin: By taking over the protective duty, niacinamide improves the skin's overall functionality, thereby making other skin conditions, such as acne or rosacea, more manageable. This also exhibits niacinamide's preventative benefits; therefore, it is used in acne treatment.
Vitamin B12: Cyanocobalamin
The vitamin B12 family is the most complex of any B vitamin subgroup. It includes all kinds of cobalamin compounds, the most popular being cyanocobalamin. Perhaps more interesting than B12's structural makeup is the ironic comparison between B12's many vital roles in overall health and how B12 is delivered to perform those roles. Natural sources of B12 are limited, found only in some animals and animal products, including shellfish, meat, eggs and cheese. B12 can't be made by plants or animals, since its essential enzymes only come from bacteria, crucial to its creation. Human absorption is complex, and many forms of B12 cannot be used by the body. Cyanocobalamin is the form of B12 injected into foods and used for supplements, a way of helping to ensure proper amounts of B12 make it into the system.
Skin Benefits of B12
Vitamin B12 is the ruler of cell metabolism, and essential to a variety of cell processes, among a long list of other vital roles B12 plays in the brain, the nervous system, DNA, the blood, and many other body parts and functions. This B member is so crucial to good health that its deficiency threatens a variety of consequences. B12's governance over cells and cell processes, including skin cells, links its relevance to skin health. Applied topically, B12 creams are used to treat eczema, as the vitamin can cease inflammation.
Vitamin B5: Pantothenic Acid
Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, exists in all living things, and, even if in small quantities, is present in virtually all foods. This explains B5's alternate name, which stems from the Greek word "pantos," meaning "everywhere." B5 is crucial to metabolism; the release of energy; fighting allergies; hormone secretion; the synthesis of fat, proteins and carbohydrates; and the maintenance of muscles, nerves and the skin. It also helps the creation of lipids, neurotransmitters and hemoglobin, and is believed to reduce stress. But it wasn't until the 1990s that B5 became popular in dermatology.
While it's true that this vitamin is found, at least in small quantities, in most foods, there are food sources that supply higher quantities of pantothenic acid. Whole grains and meats are good sources of the vitamin, and vegetables such as avocado and broccoli provide an abundance of pantothenic acid as well. CoA, or acyl carrier protein (ACP), is the form of the vitamin in most foods. In supplements, pantothenic acid's derivative, pantothenol, is the typical form of the vitamin. Calcium pantothenate is another form used in multivitamin supplements.
Skin Benefits of B5
B5 is used for acne treatment and acne prevention. A study published in 1995 by Dr. Lit-Hung Leung revealed B5's ability to not only cure acne, but reduce pore size as well. Acne is basically a problem with excessive amounts of oils in the skin from fats that aren't metabolized properly; the fats and subsequent oils build up in the skin and block the pores. High doses of B5 are able to metabolize the built-up fats and can achieve this rapidly. Acne patients treated with B5 generally see results quickly, including acne clear-up and shrunken pores. The doses of B5 are usually given orally and applied topically for optimal effectiveness.
Another benefit to the skin is pantothenic acid's ability to heal wounds rapidly and effectively. This is because cell multiplication increases with higher doses of the vitamin, so the regeneration of cells restores the wounded area.