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Are There Any Vitamins I Can Take for B.O.?

Attacking the issue from the outside with soap and cologne hasn’t resulted in the sweet smell of success, so I figured I might try it from the inside instead

My dad often reminded me of the proverb that a snake is immune to its own venom, but in my experience, most people are aware of the fetid fragrances they leave floating behind them. This problem is often exacerbated in a gym setting, where the combination of sweat, freshly released hormones, natural body warmth and a lack of clothing all combine to turn what might have been a minor nose tickler into a five-alarm funk.

But if this is you — and you find yourself leaving behind a wake of rancidness that ranks somewhere between Pig-Pen and Pepé Le Pew — what should you do? Interestingly, some people are starting to suggest that you can reach for specific sets of vitamins to combat the problem from the inside out.

How much of my body odor is natural?

Well, let me put it this way — it should be much more external than internal. 

That is, one of the reasons sweat and unpleasant odors are interconnected in the minds of most people is because sweat has the ability to amplify unpleasant odors. Most of what’s classified as foul body odor is produced when sweat mixes with bacteria on the skin. So if someone hypothetically hasn’t washed recently — or even worse — hasn’t wiped adequately, the potential for the creation of unpleasant odors is multiplied.

Otherwise, if your body odor has an internal cause, it might be related to a medical condition. A host of diseases are linked with the emissions of foul odors, including diabetes, gout, kidney disease and liver disease. If you notice your body giving off a foul smell and you can’t attribute it to a logical root cause, it might be worth getting a doctor’s evaluation.

Can’t vitamins help me to combat my B.O.?

Sort of, but probably not in the way you’re thinking.

If you’re suffering from a shortage of specific nutrients, your body may be functioning suboptimally and possibly degenerating in some respects, which only contributes to odor-producing conditions. Specifically, your body’s failure to regenerate skin cells or other cells on the exterior of your body might result in the buildup of dead, bacteria-causing cells on your skin, creating an environment where foul smells can be easily spawned. 

Presuming that the not-so-fresh scents wafting off your body are caused by a shortage of the correct micronutrients, it’s worth considering upping your intake of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. All three play a role in the development, maintenance and recovery of skin cells. And so, again, if you’re not consuming any of these vitamins in appropriate levels, the breakdown of your skin may result — as well as an unpleasant scent.

Great! Is there anything else I should know?

Just one: There’s a very small chance that your body odor is theoretically caused by too much of a specific vitamin: B1, also known as thiamine. Granted, it would probably be difficult to consume sufficient B1 to raise it to the level of an odor-causing agent, but it can be excreted by the skin if it’s consumed in very high doses, consequently spawning a smell that won’t win you many friends. 

So, no, vitamins aren’t going to flush any unpleasant scents out of your system, but they may make it easier for you to maintain your exterior in its prime, bacteria-free condition. If that doesn’t do the trick, though, please consult with a medical professional to ensure that the stench you’re emitting isn’t an indicator of something far more nefarious lurking beneath the surface. Because if the cause of the odor is located within you, it’s going to take something a lot stronger than a vitamin to free you from it.