- Riboflavin: Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, Dosage & Interactions
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Sources, Benefits and Dosage
- Riboflavin foods
- Deficiency and dosage
- Riboflavin Requirements and Dietary Sources
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
- Migraine headache
- Vitamin B2: Just How Vital Is Riboflavin for Energy & Health?
- What Is Vitamin B2? Role in the Body
- 1. Proven to Help Prevent Headaches, Including Migraines
- 2. Helps Support Eye Health
- 3. Can Help Prevent and Treat Anemia
- 4. Needed for Maintaining Proper Energy Levels
- 5. Provides Antioxidant Properties and Defends Against Cancer
- 6. Protects Healthy Hair and Skin
- 7. May Help Prevent Neurological Diseases
- 13 Impressive Benefits of Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
- Important Sources of Riboflavin
- Deficiency Symptoms of Riboflavin
- Health Benefits of Riboflavin
- Boosts Energy
- Increases Blood Circulation
- Promotes Growth & Development
- Prevents Diseases
- Skin Care
- Protects the Nervous System
- Essential for Normal Growth
- Protects Vision
- Boosts Mineral Absorption
- Repairs Tissues
- Protects Digestive Tract
- Boosts Immune System
Riboflavin: Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, Dosage & Interactions
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Bates, C. J., Evans, P. H., Allison, G., Sonko, B. J., Hoare, S., Goodrich, S., and Aspray, T. Biochemical indices and neuromuscular function tests in rural Gambian schoolchildren given a riboflavin, or multivitamin plus iron, supplement. Br.J.Nutr. 1994;72(4):601-610. View abstract.
Bates, C. J., Flewitt, A., Prentice, A. M., Lamb, W. H., and Whitehead, R. G. Efficacy of a riboflavin supplement given at fortnightly intervals to pregnant and lactating women in rural Gambia. Hum.Nutr Clin Nutr 1983;37(6):427-432. View abstract.
Bates, C. J., Powers, H. J., Lamb, W. H., Gelman, W., and Webb, E. Effect of supplementary vitamins and iron on malaria indices in rural Gambian children. Trans.R.Soc.Trop.Med.Hyg. 1987;81(2):286-291. View abstract.
Bates, C. J., Prentice, A. M., and Paul, A. A. Seasonal variations in vitamins A, C, riboflavin and folate intakes and status of pregnant and lactating women in a rural Gambian community: some possible implications. Eur.J Clin Nutr 1994;48(9):660-668. View abstract.
Bates, C. J., Prentice, A. M., Watkinson, M., Morrell, P., Sutcliffe, B. A., Foord, F. A., and Whitehead, R. G. Riboflavin requirements of lactating Gambian women: a controlled supplementation trial. Am J Clin Nutr 1982;35(4):701-709. View abstract.
Belko, A. Z., Meredith, M. P., Kalkwarf, H. J., Obarzanek, E., Weinberg, S., Roach, R., McKeon, G., and Roe, D. A. Effects of exercise on riboflavin requirements: biological validation in weight reducing women. Am J Clin Nutr 1985;41(2):270-277. View abstract.
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Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Sources, Benefits and Dosage
Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is one of the eight B-complex vitamins. other B vitamins, it plays a role in energy production in the body, but also has many other important uses.
Vitamin B2 is a water-soluble vitamin that is flushed the body daily, so it must be restored each day. The best way to get this vitamin is by eating foods that are rich in riboflavin.
Riboflavin is found in eggs, nuts, dairy products, meats, broccoli, brewer's yeast, Brussel sprouts, wheat germ, wild rice, mushrooms, soybeans, green leafy vegetables and whole grain and enriched cereals and bread, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Riboflavin is a vitamin that is needed for growth and overall good health. It helps the body break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats to produce energy, and it allows oxygen to be used by the body.
“Riboflavin is also used for the development and function of the skin, lining of the digestive tract, blood cells and other vital organs,” Dr. Sherry Ross, women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, told Live Science.
Vitamin B2 is also important for eye health. According to the University of Michigan, this vitamin is needed to protect glutathione, which is an important antioxidant in the eye. The U.S.
National Library of Medicine (NLM) reports that eating a diet rich in riboflavin can lower the risk of developing cataracts.
Taking supplements containing riboflavin and niacin may also be helpful in preventing cataracts.
Levels of certain vitamins, chemicals and minerals in the bloodstream seem to be dependent on healthy levels of B2, as well. For example, riboflavin changes vitamin B6 and folate (vitamin B9) into forms that the body can use.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, riboflavin is important to how the body processes iron. Without it, research shows that the body is more ly to develop anemia.
Taking riboflavin can also reduce homocysteine levels in the blood by 26 to 40 percent, according to the NLM.
B2 may be important to pregnancy health, as well. According to a study by the University Women's Hospital, Heidelberg, Germany, riboflavin deficiency may be a factor in causing preeclampsia, a condition that causes high blood pressure in late pregnancy.
Those suffering from migraines may find that taking doses of B2 may help. A study by the department of neurology of Humboldt University of Berlin found that those taking high doses of riboflavin had significantly fewer migraines.
Deficiency and dosage
Deficiency of riboflavin is rare in developed countries because it is a vitamin found in many common foods. Some people are more prone to deficiency than others.
“This is more common in people on extreme diets who are underweight or those with digestive problems such as celiac disease,” Dr. Kristine Arthur, internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, told Live Science.
Teens, alcoholics and the elderly are also more susceptible to vitamin B2 deficiency because of poor diet.
Deficiency can cause anemia, sore throat, mouth or lip sores, inflammation of the skin and swelling of soft tissue in the mouth. These symptoms can show up after just a few days of deficiency, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The normal recommended daily allowance (RDA) of riboflavin is dependent on age, gender and reproductive status. “RDA is 1.3 milligrams daily for men and 1.1 mg for women. A higher dose of 3 mg per day can help to prevent cataracts.
Higher doses up to 400 mg can be used to treat migraine headaches,” said Arthur. A cup of chopped kale has 0.1 mg, while a hard-boiled egg has 0.3 mg and a glass of whole milk has 0.4 mg, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. One cup of whole almonds has 1.
4 mg of riboflavin, or 85 percent of the RDA.
As a supplement, riboflavin is usually included in multivitamins and B-complex vitamins. It also is available separately in doses of 25 mg, 50 mg and 100 mg.
Relatively nontoxic, riboflavin is considered safe at high doses because excess is disposed of through the urinary tract. There may be some side effects from taking higher doses of B2, though.
“Some people notice their urine turning yellow-orange in color and having diarrhea when taken in higher doses,” said Ross.
Riboflavin Requirements and Dietary Sources
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Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a key role in several important functions of the body.
Among other things, it helps metabolizes glucose—the form of sugar that the body uses for energy—and supports the production of healthy red blood cells.
Riboflavin also serves as an antioxidant, preventing free radicals from damaging cells and increasing the risk of many aging-related diseases.
Vitamin B2 is found naturally in many different foods, most of which are common in the American diet. Because of this, riboflavin deficiency is infrequently seen in the United States. If it does occur, it is usually a result of severe malnutrition or conditions that impair vitamin absorption.
Riboflavin, along with all other B vitamins, is important for maintaining optimal nutrition and health. It plays an important role in breaking down nutrients in food—including carbohydrates, proteins, and fats—to produce energy. Without it, we simply could not function.
But riboflavin also considered beneficial in preventing or treating certain medical conditions, including:
It appears to do so by maintaining the metabolic integrity of the body, while minimizing certain byproducts of metabolism, such as homocysteine, that are harmful to cells.
In addition to its role in metabolism and blood cell synthesis, vitamin B2 enables the conversion of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) to its active coenzyme form and the conversion of tryptophan to niacin. Beyond these normal biochemical functions, there is evidence that vitamin B2 is beneficial to people with specific medical conditions.
Here is what some of the current research says:
According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin B2 is showing a lot of promise as a potential treatment for migraine headaches. Migraines are believed to be caused by changes in the brainstem or Imbalances in brain chemicals.
Riboflavin appears to help overcome these imbalances by improving respiration and energy production within the mitochondria of brain cells.
A 1998 study published in the journal Neurology found that migraine-prone adults who took 400 milligrams (mg) of riboflavin per day had two fewer migraine attacks per month than people who took a placebo.
A subsequent study reported similar results in children.
There is also evidence that vitamin B2 be helpful in preventing cancer. The underlying theory is that riboflavin can protect cellular DNA from being damaged by cancer-causing agents cigarette smoke.
At its heart, cancer is the breakdown of normal cellular function in which cells no longer undergo apoptosis (programmed cell death). If this happens, cells can suddenly reproduce control and form tumors.
Although riboflavin deficiency is known to be an independent risk factor for both of the conditions, it is unclear what, if any, amount of riboflavin would be needed to achieve a tangible reduction in risk.
Cataracts are a common aging-related condition in which the lens of the eye begins to cloud over. People who have riboflavin in their diet appear to have a lower risk of developing cataracts.
A 2014 study from Tufts University suggested that as little as 2 micrograms (μg) of riboflavin can reduce the risk of cataracts in malnourished people.
Riboflavin is also important in the synthesis of niacin, with higher niacin levels corresponding to a reduction in cataract risk.
Riboflavin eye drops are sometimes used with ultraviolet (UV) light therapy to treat a degenerative eye disorder known as keratoconus. When used together, the eye drops and UV radiation reinforces the corneal collagen and stabilizes the lens.
Homocysteine is a common amino acid found in the blood. High levels of homocysteine (referred to as homocysteinemia) are associated with an array of adverse medical conditions, including stroke, dementia, heart attacks.
Riboflavin supplements taken daily can reduce homocysteine levels by up to 40% in some people.
According to a study published in Circulation, a 25 percent reduction of homocysteine reduces the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) by 11 to 16 percent and the risk of stroke by 19 to 24 percent.
Similarly, a reduction in homocysteine may reduce the risk of neurocognitive disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, vascular dementia, and epilepsy, according to research from Northumbria University in England.
When prescribed with anticonvulsant drugs, riboflavin lowers homocysteine levels by 26%, ensuring better seizure control.
High homocysteine level can also increase the risk of preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous complication of pregnancy characterized by a sharp rise in blood pressure. Supplementation with riboflavin, folic acid, and vitamin B12 is commonly used to reduce the risk.
If you are not getting enough vitamin B2 in your diet, your doctor may recommend either a daily multivitamin or a B-complex supplement. Always use supplements as prescribed. Most offer between 25 mg and 100 mg of riboflavin, only a small amount of which is absorbed in the intestines. The rest is quickly excreted in urine.
Even small doses of riboflavin can cause your urine to turn a bright yellow color (a side effect known as flavinuria). Doses greater than 100 mg may cause itchiness, diarrhea, stomach cramps, numbness, light sensitivity, blurriness, and a burning sensation on the skin.
While it is impossible to overdose on vitamin B2 (given the high rate of excretion and the low level of absorption) that shouldn't suggest that there will no adverse effects. While rare, induced light sensitivity can increase the risk of eye damage from direct sun exposure.
With that being said, there are no known toxic effects associated with high riboflavin intake, either by oral or injected use.
The dietary reference intake (RDI) for riboflavin is set by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, D.C. The RDI describes the optimum amount of nutrient a person should get each day age and sex.
For riboflavin, the RDIs for American children and adults are:
- Children ages 1 to 3: 0.5 milligrams (mg)
- Children ages 4 to 8: 0.6 mg
- Children ages 9 to 13: 0.9 mg
- Girls 14 to 18: 1.0 mg
- Boys 14 to 18: 1.3 mg
- Women 19 and older: 1.1 mg
- Men 19 and older: 1.3 mg
- Pregnant women: 1.4 mg
- Breastfeeding women: 1.6 mg
Vitamin B2 supplements are available as tablets, capsule, effervescent, and liquids. Vitamin B2 injections delivered intramuscularly (into a muscle) are available from your doctor. There are also prescription eye drops used by ophthalmologists and injectable vitamin B2 formulations for eye injections.
Riboflavin is found in many different foods, most especially dairy and tree nuts. Here is a list of some of the best dietary sources of vitamin B2:
- Cheddar cheese: 1 ounce = 0.11 mg
- Salmon: 3 ounces = 0.13 mg
- Asparagus: 6 spears = 0.15 mg
- Ground beef: 3 ounces = 0.15 mg
- Roasted chicken (dark meat): 3 ounces = 0.16 mg
- Cooked spinach: 1/2 cup = 0.21 mg
- Skim milk: 1 cup = 0.22 mg
- Hard-boiled egg: 1 large egg = 0.26 mg
- Almonds: 1 ounce = 0.29 mg
You can also get vitamin B2 from fortified cereals and grains. A cup of puffed wheat cereal, for example, delivers 0.22 mg of riboflavin, while two slices of whole wheat bread have 0.12 mg.
Cooking doesn't destroy riboflavin, so you won't lose any of the nutritional benefits whether a food is roasted, fried, boiled, or steamed. Since vitamin B breaks down when exposed to light, it is best to store dairy and other riboflavin-rich foods in opaque rather than clear containers.
Riboflavin supplements can be found at almost any drugstore, grocery store, or health food store. They can also be purchased online in tablet, capsule, and liquid formulations.
When shopping for a vitamin B2 supplement, always buy a brand tested and approved by a certifying body the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, or ConsumerLab to ensure the highest quality and safety.
Although vitamin B2 deficiency is uncommon in the United States, there are certain conditions that can increase a person's risk:
- Alcohol abuse: People who are alcoholic are unly to get ample vitamin B2 in their diets and are less able to absorb what vitamins that do ingest.
- Anorexia: Because calories are so dramatically reduced, people with anorexia are less able to attain adequate nutrition in general.
- Lactose intolerance: Given that dairy products are a primary source of riboflavin, it's not surprising that people who don't drink milk or eat dairy are commonly deficient.
- Birth control pills: Birth control pills interfere with the absorption of vitamin B2 and can also cause the depletion of vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin C, magnesium, and zinc as well.
- Hypothyroidism and adrenal insufficiency: Both low thyroid function (hypothyroidism) and low adrenal function (adrenal insufficiency) impair the conversion of riboflavin to forms the body can use.
- Overtraining: Athletes need more nutrition than other people and will often fall short of their dietary needs if their nutritional intake isn't increased. This is especially true for athletes who overtrain or are vegetarian.
Riboflavin deficiency doesn't usually occur on its own. More often than not, there will be a depletion of all key B vitamins, each of which causes similar symptoms, including
- Sore throat
- Fatigue and weakness
- Cracks or sores on the lips (cheilosis)
- Cracked corners of the mouth (angular stomatitis)
- Inflammation of the tongue (“magenta tongue”)
- Scaly, red patches of (seborrheic dermatitis)
- Swollen blood vessels in the eye
- Hair loss (alopecia)
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Vitamin B2, also called riboflavin, is one of 8 B vitamins. All B vitamins help the body to convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which is used to produce energy.
These B vitamins, often referred to as B-complex vitamins, also help the body metabolize fats and protein. B complex vitamins are necessary for a healthy liver, skin, hair, and eyes.
They also help the nervous system function properly.
All B vitamins are water soluble, meaning the body does not store them.
In addition to producing energy for the body, riboflavin works as an antioxidant, fighting damaging particles in the body known as free radicals.
Free radicals can damage cells and DNA, and may contribute to the aging process, as well as the development of a number of health conditions, such as heart disease and cancer.
Antioxidants, such as riboflavin, can fight free radicals and may reduce or help prevent some of the damage they cause.
Riboflavin is also needed to help the body change vitamin B6 and folate into forms it can use. It is also important for growth and red blood cell production.
Most healthy people who eat a well-balanced diet get enough riboflavin. However, elderly people and alcoholics may be at risk for riboflavin deficiency because of poor diet. Symptoms of riboflavin deficiency include:
- Slowed growth
- Digestive problems
- Cracks and sores around the corners of the mouth
- Swollen magenta-colored tongue
- Eye fatigue
- Swelling and soreness of the throat
- Sensitivity to light
Vitamin B2, along with other nutrients, is important for normal vision. Early studies suggest that riboflavin might help prevent cataracts, damage to the lens of the eye, which can lead to cloudy vision.
In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study, people who took a niacin and riboflavin supplement had fewer cataracts than people who took other vitamins and nutrients. However, researchers do not know whether that was due to riboflavin, niacin, or the combination of the two.
More research is needed to see if riboflavin can really help prevent cataracts.
Several studies suggest that people who get migraines may reduce how often they get migraines and how long the migraines last by taking riboflavin.
One double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that taking 400 mg of riboflavin a day cut the number of migraine attacks in half.
However, the study did not compare riboflavin to conventional medications used to prevent migraines. More research is needed.
Preliminary research suggests that supplementation with vitamin B2, along with vitamin B6, and magnesium reduces the level of dicarboxylic acids (abnormal organic acids) in the urine of autistic children.
The best sources of riboflavin include:
- Brewer's yeast
- Organ meats
- Whole grains
- Wheat germ
- Wild rice
- Brussels sprouts
Flours and cereals are often fortified with riboflavin.
Riboflavin is destroyed by light. So food should be stored away from light to protect its riboflavin content. While riboflavin is not destroyed by heat, it can be lost in water when foods are boiled or soaked. Roasting and steaming foods preserves more riboflavin than frying or scalding your foods.
Riboflavin is generally included in multivitamins and B-complex vitamins. It also comes separately in 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg tablets.
As with all medicines, check with a health care provider before giving riboflavin supplements to a child.
Daily recommendations for dietary riboflavin are as follows.
- Infants, birth to 6 months: 0.3 mg (adequate intake)
- Infants, 7 to 12 months: 0.4 mg (adequate intake)
- Children, 1 to 3 years: 0.5 mg (RDA)
- Children, 4 to 8 years: 0.6 mg (RDA)
- Children, 9 to 13 years: 0.9 mg (RDA)
- Boys, 14 to 18 years: 1.3 mg (RDA)
- Girls, 14 to 18 years: 1 mg (RDA)
- Men, 19 years and older: 1.3 mg (RDA)
- Women, 19 years and older: 1.1 mg (RDA)
- Pregnant women: 1.4 mg (RDA)
- Breastfeeding women: 1.6 mg (RDA)
Riboflavin is best absorbed when taken between meals.
People who do not eat a balanced diet every day may benefit from taking a multivitamin and mineral complex.
Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, you should take dietary supplements only under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care provider.
Riboflavin is generally considered safe, even at high doses. Riboflavin does not seem to cause any serious side effects. Very high doses may cause:
- Burning or prickling sensations
- Yellow or orange urine
- Sensitivity to light
Taking any one of the B vitamins for a long period of time can result in an imbalance of other important B vitamins. For this reason, you may want to take a B-complex vitamin which includes all the B vitamins.
If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use vitamin B2 supplements without talking to your health care provider first.
Anticholinergic medications: Doctors use anticholinergic drugs to treat a variety of conditions, including gastrointestinal spasms, asthma, depression, and motion sickness. These drugs may make it hard for the body to absorb riboflavin.
Tetracycline: Riboflavin interferes with the absorption and effectiveness of the antibiotic, tetracycline. All vitamin B-complex supplements act in this way. You should take riboflavin at a different time during the day than when you take tetracycline.
Tricyclic antidepressants: Tricyclic antidepressants may reduce levels of riboflavin in the body. These include:
- Imipramine (Tofranil)
- Desimpramine (Norpramin)
- Amitriptyline (Elavil)
- Nortriptyline (Pamelor)
Antipsychotic medications: Antipsychotic medications called phenothiazines (such as chlorpromazine, or Thorazine) may lower riboflavin levels.
Doxorubicin: Riboflavin interferes with doxorubicin, a medication used for the treatment of certain cancers. Also, doxorubicin may deplete levels of riboflavin in the body. Your doctor will let you know whether you need to take a riboflavin supplement or not.
Methotrexate: This medication is used to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. It can interfere with how the body uses riboflavin.
Phenytoin (Dilantin): This medication, used to control seizures, may affect riboflavin levels in the body.
Probenecid: This medication used for gout may decrease the absorption of riboflavin from the digestive tract and increase how much is lost in the urine.
Thiazide diuretics (water pills): Diuretics that belong to a class known as thiazides, such as hydrochlorothiazide, may cause you to lose more riboflavin in your urine.
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Vitamin B2: Just How Vital Is Riboflavin for Energy & Health?
Vitamin B2, also called riboflavin, is an important vitamin that also acts as an antioxidant within the body. Because it’s a water-soluble vitamin, all B vitamins, vitamin B2 must be obtained through a healthy diet and replenished often — ideally every day, in order to avoid vitamin B2 deficiency.
All B vitamins are used to help digest and extract energy from the foods you eat. They do this by converting nutrients from carbohydrates, fats and proteins into useable energy in the form of “ATP.
” For this reason, vitamin B2 is needed for the functioning of every single cell within your body.
That’s why vitamin B2 deficiency, or lack of riboflavin foods in your diet, can contribute to a number of serious side effects, including anemia, fatigue and a sluggish metabolism.
What Is Vitamin B2? Role in the Body
What does vitamin B2 do? Roles of vitamin B2 include maintaining healthy blood cells, boosting energy levels, facilitating in a healthy metabolism, preventing free radical damage, contributing to growth, protecting skin and eye health, and much more.
Vitamin B2 is used in combination with other B vitamins, which make up the “B vitamin complex.” In fact, B2 must be present in high enough amounts in the body to allow other B vitamins, including B6 and folic acid, to properly do their jobs.
All B vitamins are responsible for important functions, including contributing to nerve, heart, blood, skin and eye health; reducing inflammation; and supporting hormonal function. One of the most well-known roles of B vitamins is maintaining a healthy metabolism and digestive system.
Vitamin B2/riboflavin has been shown to act an antioxidant nutrient.
It helps prevent lipid peroxidation and oxidative injury, both of which contribute to chronic health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and neurological diseases.
Vitamin B2 also plays an important role in enzymatic reactions. There are two coenzyme forms of riboflavin: flavin mononucleotide and flavin adenine dinucleotide.
1. Proven to Help Prevent Headaches, Including Migraines
Vitamin B2 is a proven method for dealing with painful migraine headaches. Physicians commonly prescribe riboflavin in high doses of 400 milligrams/daily for at least three months as a preventive treatment for headaches or as a remedy for those who regularly experience serious migraine attacks.
Supplementing with riboflavin, especially if you have a known vitamin B2 deficiency, has been shown to be a natural headache remedy and to reduce the frequency of migraines.
Supplementing can also help decrease symptoms and pain during a migraine, as well as to shorten the duration.
One type of combination product that contains riboflavin, magnesium and coenzyme Q10, called Dolovent, is now used to manage migraine symptoms when taken in dose of four capsules daily (two capsules in the morning and two capsules in the evening for three months).
2. Helps Support Eye Health
Studies show that riboflavin deficiency increases the risk for certain eye problems, including glaucoma. Glaucoma is the leading cause of loss of eyesight/blindness.
Vitamin B2 can help prevent eye disorders, including cataracts, keratoconus and glaucoma.
Research shows a correlation between people who consume plenty of riboflavin and decreased risks for eye disorders that can appear as someone ages.
To treat eye disorders, riboflavin drops are applied to the corneal surface of a patient who suffers from glaucoma. This allows the vitamin to penetrate through the cornea and increase the strength of the cornea when used with light therapy.
3. Can Help Prevent and Treat Anemia
Anemia is caused by several factors, including decreased red cell production, the inability to carry oxygen to the blood and blood loss. Is riboflavin good or bad for you if you suffer from anemia? Vitamin B2 is involved in all of these functions and helps prevent and treat cases of anemia.
Vitamin B2 is required for steroid hormone synthesis and red blood cell production. It also helps the transportation of oxygen to the cells and helps to mobilize iron. When people experience riboflavin deficiency without enough vitamin B2 present in their diets, they become more at risk for developing anemia and sickle cell anemia.
Low levels of vitamin B2 are correlated with both of these conditions that involve an underutilization of oxygen and problems with red blood cell production. These conditions can result in fatigue, shortness of breath, inability to exercise and more.
Research suggests that vitamin B2 is also effective in helping lower high amounts of homocysteine in the blood. This condition occurs when someone is unable to convert the chemical homocysteine present in blood into amino acids for the body to use. Supplementing with vitamin B2 (riboflavin) has been shown to help correct this condition and balance homocysteine levels.
4. Needed for Maintaining Proper Energy Levels
Riboflavin is considered a vital component of mitochondrial energy. Vitamin B2 is used by the body to metabolize food for energy and to maintain proper brain, nerve, digestive and hormone function. This is why riboflavin is very important for growth and bodily repair.
Without high enough levels of riboflavin, riboflavin deficiency occurs, and the molecules found in carbohydrate, fat and protein foods are not able to be properly digested and used for “fuel” that keeps the body running. This type of bodily “fuel” is called ATP (or adenosine triphosphate), often called the “currency of life.
” The predominant role of mitochondria is the production of ATP.
Vitamin B2 is needed in order to break down proteins into amino acids, fats and carbohydrates in the form of glucose. This helps convert nutrients from food into usable bodily energy that helps maintain a healthy metabolism.
Riboflavin is also needed to regulate proper thyroid activity and adrenal function. A riboflavin deficiency can increase the odds of thyroid disease. It also is useful in calming the nervous system, battling chronic stress, and regulating hormones that control appetite, energy, mood, temperature and more.
5. Provides Antioxidant Properties and Defends Against Cancer
Recent studies have found that vitamin B2 intake is inversely associated with with some of the most common types of cancer, including colon cancer and breast cancer.
Vitamin B2 benefits the immune system because it acts as an antioxidant that controls the presence of damaging free radicals within the body.
Vitamin B2 riboflavin is required for the production of an antioxidant called glutathione, which acts as a free radical killer and also detoxes the liver.
Free radicals are what age the body. When they go uncontrolled, it can result in the development of various disease.
Vitamin B2 plays a part in defending against disease by maintaining a healthy lining within the digestive tract, where much of the immune system is stored.
A healthy digestive system allows the body to absorb and use the most nutrients from your diet that it can. Thus, a riboflavin deficiency can mean less nutrients properly being used for bodily energy.
Riboflavin, along with other B vitamins, is correlated in preliminary studies with helping to prevent certain types of cancer — including colorectal cancer, esophageal cancer, cervical cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
Although more research is still needed to know the exact role of riboflavin in cancer prevention, at this time researchers believe that vitamin B2 works to minimize the effects of cancer-producing carcinogens and oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
6. Protects Healthy Hair and Skin
Vitamin B2 riboflavin plays a role in maintaining collagen levels, which makes up healthy skin and hair. Collagen is needed to maintain the youthful structure of skin and prevent fine lines and wrinkles.
A riboflavin deficiency can make us look aged quicker.
Some research suggests that riboflavin can decrease the time needed for wound healing, reduce skin inflammation and cracked lips, and help naturally slow signs of aging.
7. May Help Prevent Neurological Diseases
Recent evidence suggests that vitamin B2 may exert a neuroprotective effect and offer protection against some neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, migraines and multiple sclerosis.
Researchers believe that vitamin B2 has a role in some pathways that are hypothesized to be impaired in neurological disorders.
For example, vitamin B2 serves as an antioxidant and assists myelin formation, mitochondrial function and iron metabolism.
13 Impressive Benefits of Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
Vitamin B2 is a water-soluble vitamin. The human body needs a daily dosage of it since it cannot be stored in the body. It plays a major role in energy production and represents an essential nutrient in your diet. Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, plays a significant role in the production of energy as per NIH.
It helps in the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, which fuels many functions in the body. Riboflavin also plays an active part in the electron transport chain that produces cellular energy. Furthermore, it helps in the processing of amino acids and fats. It can also serve as an antioxidant, which slows the pace of aging.
Important Sources of Riboflavin
Vitamin B2 can be found in various food sources, though usually in negligible quantities. Some of the good sources of riboflavin are
- Dairy products
- Brewer’s yeast
- Dry-roasted soybeans
- Fish & animal products: Liver, eggs, oysters, shellfish, lean meats, salmon, and oily fish – mackerel, eel, and herring
- Vegetables and fruits: Mushrooms, beans, broccoli, avocados, dried peas, and dark leafy green vegetables, such as asparagus and spinach
- Seeds & grains: whole grains, wild rice, millet, sunflower seeds
Cabbage, carrots, apples, figs, and berries have a comparatively low level of vitamin B2. Fortunately, vitamin B2 is not lost during cooking, un many other vitamins. However, it is destroyed by strong light and baking soda.
Deficiency Symptoms of Riboflavin
Riboflavin is a vitamin found in food and used as a dietary supplement. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Vitamin B2 deficiency can hamper the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, as these elements would require vitamin B2 for complete metabolism. The deficiency symptoms of vitamin B2 include bloodshot eyes, high sensitivity to light, a burning sensation in the eyes, parched lips, inflammation in the mouth, and a sore tongue.
Other common symptoms include dull or oily hair, premature wrinkles, and split nails. Riboflavin deficiency could result in the improper functioning of adrenal glands, which in turn would result in various conditions such as anemia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and cataract development.
Riboflavin deficiency is thought to be a major cause for the fatal condition of preeclampsia in pregnant women. Riboflavin deficiency mainly manifests as skin lesions, especially over the tongue and around the corners of the mouth. If left untreated, it can lead to a swollen tongue, seborrheic dermatitis, and even an impaired nerve function.
Dandruff, low blood count, chipping of the lips and corners of the mouth, dizziness, hair loss, loss of sleep, poor digestion, and slow mental responses are some of the other symptoms of vitamin B2 deficiency.
Health Benefits of Riboflavin
Riboflavin is a well-absorbed water-soluble vitamin, which has a key role to play in maintaining overall human health. Its major health benefits are given below:
Riboflavin plays a major role in the production of energy by assisting in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
Increases Blood Circulation
Vitamin B2 is essential for the formation of fresh red blood cells and antibodies in humans, which increases circulation and oxygenation to various organs of the body.
Promotes Growth & Development
Riboflavin is very important for ensuring proper growth and development of the reproductive organs, and the growth of body tissues such as the skin, connective tissue, eyes, mucous membranes, nervous system, and the immune system. In addition, it also ensures healthy skin, nails, and hair.
Vitamin B2 can help to prevent many common conditions migraine headaches, cataracts, acne, dermatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and eczema.
Riboflavin helps to improve the mucus secretion of the skin and might clean up the skin pustules that are common with acne.
Protects the Nervous System
Vitamin B2 may help in providing relief from symptoms of various nervous system conditions such as numbness and anxiety among others. It is thought that riboflavin, when used along with vitamin B6, is effective for treating the painful symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
Essential for Normal Growth
Riboflavin is associated with the formulation of proteins, making it essential for the normal growth of the body.
Vitamin B2 plays a major role in ensuring healthy corneas and perfect vision.
Boosts Mineral Absorption
It helps in the absorption of minerals such as iron, folic acid, and other vitamins such as B1, B3, and B6.
Riboflavin plays an important role in the repair of tissues, the healing of wounds and other injuries that can take a long time to fully recover.
Protects Digestive Tract
It plays a major role in maintaining and protecting the mucous membranes in the digestive system.
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Although there is no concrete proof to substantiate the claims that vitamin B2 is essential for the healthy progression of pregnancy, it is regarded as an essential ingredient of a future mother’s diet, along with vitamin A.
Boosts Immune System
Riboflavin also helps to enhance natural immunity by strengthening the antibody reserves and by reinforcing the defense system against infections. Remember to have a well-balanced diet to ensure the supply of riboflavin, which needs to be replenished daily.