Could Vitamins Make You More Sensitive to the Sun?

Woman with shade umbrella

Many people take vitamins, herbs, and other dietary supplements for an array of health reasons. However, some of these supplements may have adverse effects on your skin, particularly related to sun sensitivity. One such vitamin, vitamin B6, has been shown to induce UVA sensitivity in human cell cultures. Learn more about what this means and what you can do if you notice that your skin is particularly sensitive to the sun.

The Link between Vitamin B6 and Sun Sensitivity 

A 2017 study published in Photochemistry and Photobiology set out to further investigate previous studies finding that UV exposure to mice supplemented with vitamin B6 triggered cancerous cell growth. In 2017, researchers put these same findings to the test in human cell cultures, finding that vitamin B6 can cause skin sensitivity to UVA light in particular (longer wavelengths that contribute to skin cancer). 

While these findings have not been verified in vivo (in live humans), this research points to the possibility that vitamin B6 supplementation may make some people more susceptible to skin cancers caused by UV exposure. We don’t yet understand why some supplements like vitamin B6 seem to cause photosensitivity in human skin. 

While more research is needed in this area, if you have sun sensitivity and don’t know why, review all of the vitamins and supplements you are taking and see if B6 is one of them. Be sure to check the contents of any multivitamins you may be taking, as B6 is likely included in the formula. Talk with your doctor about the proper dosage for all vitamins and supplements you are taking, as well as which you can eliminate from your diet to help reduce photosensitivity. 

Vitamin B6 Is Also Linked to Acne 

In addition to increasing sun sensitivity, vitamin B6 supplementation may also contribute to acne. Interestingly, studies have found that B6 and B12 supplements are linked with more acne-causing bacteria on the skin than in those who do not take these supplements. However, the same correlation has not been found with foods that are rich in these vitamins. 

Again, more research is needed to determine how and why these supplements might affect acne. However, if you are struggling to manage acne-prone skin, review the vitamins you are taking and see if B6 or B12 might be affecting your skin.

What Else Causes Sun Sensitivity?

A variety of prescription and over-the-counter medications are known to increase photosensitivity, as well as several herbal supplements, topical skin care products, and even some foods. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are some of the most common medications, supplements and foods that can increase sun sensitivity: 

  • Accutane
  • Doxycycline 
  • Ibuprofen (Advil)
  • Naproxen (Aleve)
  • St. John’s wort
  • Dong quai
  • Citrus fruits (topically on the skin)
  • Some artificial sweeteners 

Don’t Forget These Tips to Protect Your Skin from the Sun

The best way to protect your skin from the sun is to wear daily sunscreen. While eliminating or reducing your intake of certain supplements may help to reduce photosensitivity, you still need to wear sunscreen every day to protect your skin from harmful UV light. 

Keep these three easy tips in mind to protect your skin from the sun:

  1. Wear daily sunscreen of at least SPF 15, or SPF 30 or higher when you will be outdoors.
  2. Don’t rely on SPF in makeup alone. If you are going to use an SPF foundation or moisturizer, be sure to layer it with a standalone SPF as well.
  3. Consider taking a supplement like Heliocare to help boost sun protection, in addition to wearing sunscreen. Do not use supplementation in place of SPF.

Bottom Line

Current research shows that vitamin B6 supplementation may increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV light, thus increasing the risk of skin cancer. If you are concerned about photosensitivity and currently take vitamin B6, talk with your doctor about reducing or eliminating this supplement to see if it helps your skin. 

Always wear sunscreen — even when indoors — to keep your skin protected from UV rays, which can reach your skin through glass. 

©2021 MetaBeauty, Inc. 

July 15, 2021 Beauty, Skin Aging