The “amines of life”, the first name attributed to vitamins, are organic compounds vital to human well-being and health. Generally speaking they cannot be synthesized by the body and therefore they must be supplied in the diet with food and supplementation.
Vitamins work as co-factors in many of the countless biological reactions taking place in the body. Their absence has caused dramatic pathologies on a large scale in the past. Even today, in underdeveloped countries, vitamin deficiencies are a major issue caused by lack of food and create problems during development and adulthood.
At skin level, vitamin deficiencies lead to visible damage caused by alterations in cell membranes, fissures, pigmentation imbalances and often manifest in the skin as the first sign of chronic diseases.
What is it, and what it is good for
Vitamins belong to an heterogeneous group of organic compounds, classified for convenience according to their solubility.
Vitamin B12, also known as cyanocobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that has an important role in cellular metabolism. Its deficiency leads to pernicious anemia, a megaloblastic anemia (enlargement of red blood cells) associated with neurological disorders that was fatal until 1926, when it was shown that liver extracts were able to cure it.
Dietary needs and nutritional content
Nowadays, with a healthy and balanced diet, we assume the recommended daily dose of vitamin B12 (about 2 µg per day). It may however be missing in vegan diets (because it is contained in foods of animal origin) and in circumstances of malabsorption (as celiac disease) or deficiency states observed in elderly people, severe alcoholism or Chron’s disease.
Properties and benefits of vitamin B12
Thanks to the presence of a cobalt atom in its structure, vitamin B12 contributes to the metabolism of folic acid, to the production of red blood cells and is crucial for cell regeneration. Given its role in folate metabolism, its integration during pregnancy is essential.
The skin is a real red flag to signal the deficiency of vitamin B12: it may occur as jaundice, paleness, pigmentation disorders, skin lesions, discoloration and black spots in the nails. Another sign that can manifest is the paresthesia – the tingling or itching of the skin – especially at the terminal level (hands and feet), due to alteration in the production of red blood cells and reduced vascularity. Another sign of deficiency is glossitis: an inflammation of the tongue in the presence of erythematous plaques
Applications of vitamin b12 in cosmetics
From these observations, the interest of the cosmetic sector for the topical integration of vitamin B12 in cosmetics was born, as the active is able to give brightness to the skin, as well as improve its complexion and general health by stimulating cell renewal.
In general, vitamin B12 deficiency states have been found in subjects suffering from atopic dermatitis, vitiligo and inflammation in the corners of the mouth (angular cheilitis).
In particular, in cosmetics, vitamin B12 improves redness and itching in subjects suffering from atopic dermatitis, although it is not the only possible treatment for the problem.
Contraindications for use in cosmetics
From these observations came the interest of the cosmetic industry for the topical integration of vitamin B12 in cosmetics: it is able to give brightness to the skin, to improve its complexion and general health by stimulating cell renewal. In general, deficiency states of vitamin B12 have been detected in subjects suffering from atopic dermatitis, vitiligo and inflammation in the corners of the mouth (angular cheilitis). In particular, in cosmetic products, vitamin B12 improves redness and itching in subjects suffering from atopic dermatitis, while not representing the only possible treatment of the problem.
Vitamin B12 is well tolerated on the skin of adults and children, while during pharmacological treatment some effects have been detected, such as itching, rashes and anaphylactic reactions in intramuscle injections, allergic reactions in parenteral injections. Care must be taken to the excess introduction of vitamin B12 through the diet because this leads to tremors, insomnia, gastrointestinal problems and in some cases to acne manifestations. The blood analysis allows to detect the quantities and to take action with the suspension of the integrative cycle or with dietary changes in case of overdose.
At cosmetic dosages problems of accumulation are not observed, indeed vitamin B12 is a valuable complement to improve the complexion of the skin, conferring greater brightness and in combination with other functional to counteract the formation of free radicals. Vitamin B12 is not very common in topical treatments compared to other vitamins most used and known to consumers, but it is an excellent ally for the dermocosmetic treatment of skin aging.