Vitamins to combat testosterone side effects

I’ve never been a big fan of taking vitamin supplements. Frankly, I think the whole industry is flawed. We should really be trying harder to get daily requirements out of the foods we eat. That being said, there is a place for taking supplements to assist with a particular ailment or deficiency that requires more than the RDA.

Going on Cris’ comments found on Jacky’s Ch-Ch-changes post, along with a recommendation from my doctor and a transman friend, I hit up the vitamin section at my local health food store yesterday and picked up some supplements.

Testosterone has caused some acne, though it’s not too bad. In fact, I think it’s leveling off. Over the past two weeks or so, I’ve noticed that the changes from testosterone have slowed, including the acne. My body must be getting accustomed to it coursing through my system. In any case, my dosage is scheduled for a 50mg increase in about 10 days, and I suspect I could be facing another round of acne so I’ve decided to be proactive.

Dr. Lit-Hung Leung’s findings suggest that when your body is producing lots of hormones (or in this case, if you have introduced testosterone to your system) you require more coenzyme-A to synthesize those hormones. If coenzyme-A is lacking then you will synthesize hormones rather than metabolize fats, leading to an accumulation of fats in the skin’s oil glands, causing an increase in sebum which results in acne. According to Dr. Leung, high doses of b5 (pantothenic acid) will correct a coenzyme-A deficiency. These mega doses are in the range of 10 to 20 grams a day.

However, I’ve read conflicting reports about the effectiveness of high doses of b5—some people claim it works, other people said it just caused them unwanted side effects with no real change in their acne. This article suggests that the mega doses advocated by Dr. Leung are in fact dangerous.

There’s a ton of information available on the subject in this 70+ page thread at acne.org.

I’m not big on extremes, so I’ve decided to take it slowly with the b5. I picked up a bottle of 100 capsules at 500 mg for $12.95. I will start with one capsule daily, then will double that dosage in a week or so. I’ll give it a good six weeks before measuring results.

Cris also mentioned the benefits of b6 in combating testosterone “bloat.” I can’t say that I’ve experienced any bloat yet, but that’s something that might introduce itself as my testosterone dosage increases. Knowing that b vitamins are best taken together for best absorption anyway, I picked up a b complex containing 50mg of b6 pyridoxine HCL and 5mg of b6 pyridoxal 5-phosphate, along with another 50mg of b5 and a slew of other b vitamins. 60 capsules cost $16.95. I’ll take one of these daily.

Vitamin E was suggested by both my doctor and another transman for fighting acne. It’s applied topically as well as taken internally, though the resources I’ve read suggest that taking it internally is better for actively combatting acne, while topical treatment is better for prevention and keeping your skin healthy. The RDA for vitamin E is very low, at just 30 IU. This should be pretty easy to get naturally by eating things like almonds, wheat germ and yams. Since I’m fighting a T side effect though, it makes sense to go for more than the RDA. I picked up a bottle of 90 softgels containing 200 IU for $11.75. I’ll apply a capsule topically on affected areas before going to bed, and will take one softgel internally once every two days.

As for acne products like Oxy, Clearasil, benzoyl perozide, etc., I’d like to avoid these in favor of natural remedies. I have a general distrust about these product companies, more so than my distrust of the vitamin industry. I’ll keep it up with the water (I drink 3L a day) and watch my diet, and hope that this in conjuction with the vitamin boost will help keep my skin clear.

UPDATE, 08/18/08: A few weeks ago, I noticed that the acne on my jawline was getting a bit worse again. I suspect it has to do with the testosterone dosage increase. On August 11, I increased my daily intake of b5 to 1gm (up from 500mg) and will monitor my skin to see if this helps any.

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