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In this article we explore Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin – one of the 8 Vitamins of the B Vitamin Complex. Through this article you will learn, what is vitamin B2, what are the best food sources for obtaining Vitamin B2 , what are the vitamin’s health benefits and what happens if you are deficient.

What is Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is a water-soluble B vitamin with many benefits. It is vital for breaking down food ingredients, absorbing other nutrients and maintaining tissue health.

It is a member of the vitamin B complex and is yellow in color. It was first isolated from whey in 1933 by Dr. Richard Khun.

People need to consume vitamin B2 every day because the body can only store small amounts of this vitamin. Riboflavin occurs naturally in certain foods, but it can also be taken as a supplement. Most of it is absorbed from the small intestine.

Interesting Fact: The term “flavin”, derived from the Latin word “flavus”, refers to the yellow color of the vitamin.

Vitamin B2 Daily Requirements

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is 1.6 mg, while a daily intake of up to 200mg is considered safe. As with all B vitamins, it is most effective when provided in dietary supplements along with other B vitamins.

Related: Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Sources, Health Benefits, RDA, Deficiency, Side effects

Vitamin B2 Foods

The highest riboflavin content is found in beer yeast, liver (lamb, veal), bird livers etc., dairy products, cereals, green vegetables such as asparagus and broccoli, while some of the herbs that have riboflavin are spirulina, alfalfa, ginseng, chamomile etc.

Riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin and although small amounts of it are stored in the kidneys and liver, vitamin B2 must be replaced daily, as most of it is eliminated from the body through urination, exercise, sweating, etc.

Foods (100 gr)MgRDA (%)
Beer yeast6,50 mg400%
Lamb liver4.64 mg290%
Almonds0,75 mg47%
Wheat germ0,72 mg45%
Spinach0,42 mg26%
Green vegetables0,42 mg26%
Mushrooms0,35 mg22%
Asparagus0,25 mg16%
Lentils0,27 mg17%
Soya0,27 mg17%
Dried peas0,24 mg15%
Chickpeas0,24 mg15%
Sunflower seeds0,19 mg12%
Sesame seeds0,15 mg10%
Walnuts0,14 mg9%

If you do not consume the above foods daily or need more dosage, supplement your diet with Vitamin B2 supplements.

Vitamin B2 Health Benefits

Regulates the growth of red blood cells – Riboflavin, or vitamin B2, regulates the growth of red blood cells and helps maintain a strong immune system.

Protects from Free Radicals – Vitamin B2 protects the body from the damage that free radicals can cause, while enhancing vision and helping to develop healthy skin, nails and hair.

”Helps” Other B vitamins – Without riboflavin, the other B vitamins, particularly niacin (vitamin B3) and pyridoxine (vitamin B6), cannot do their job properly, as well as a number of other chemical processes necessary to keep the body alive will be inhibited.

Produces important Enzymes – Riboflavin is also needed for the production of flavin mononucleotide and flavin adenine dinucleotide, two enzymes that help the body convert fats, carbohydrates and proteins into energy. Without enough riboflavin, these two enzymes are unable to work together to ensure that cells can reproduce properly and supply the body with the supplies it needs to stay alive.

Important in other chemical processes in the body – Folic acid and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) are transformed by riboflavin into neurotransmitters – vital for thinking and memory. In fact, people with high levels of riboflavin appear to perform better on memory tests.

Other Vitamin B2 Health Benefits Include

  • Vitamin B2 break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates and convert them into energy
  • Works closely with Iron
  • Promotes the metabolism of B6
  • Replenishes the antioxidant element glutathione
  • Important for the immune and nervous systems
  • Important for brain functions
  • Promotes skin health
  • Extra quantity may be needed in times of stress, weight loss diets, pregnancy, breastfeeding, illness, growth, exercise, and in the elderly.

There are reports of the use of high amounts of riboflavin in eye conditions such as blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) and keratitis (inflammation of the cornea). It is also thought that riboflavin is sporadically effective in treating migraines and muscle cramps, but this has not been yet documented.

Vitamin B2 Deficiency

Vitamin B2 deficiency is a significant risk, because the human body constantly eliminates the vitamin from the body, so it is not stored. A person who is deficient in B2 usually lacks other vitamins as well.

There are two types of riboflavin deficiency:

  • Primary riboflavin deficiency, which occurs when a person’s diet is deficient in vitamin B2.
  • Secondary riboflavin deficiency, which occurs perhaps because the intestines cannot absorb the vitamin properly or the body cannot use it because it is excreted too quickly from the body.

Symptoms of deficiency include:

  • burning in the eyes or “cut” eyes
  • cracks and sores on the edges of the eyes
  • sensitivity to bright light
  • red sensitive tongue
  • cataract
  • dry or oily hair
  • eczema
  • nails that break easily
  • dry lips
  • flaking skin, especially around the nose
  • tremors
  • dizziness
  • difficulty in urinating

Riboflavin deficiency is relatively common in people who have had a partial or total gastrectomy and in people who have been treated with chloramphenicol or other antibiotics. People who drink excessive amounts of alcohol are at greater risk of vitamin B2 deficiency as well.

Vitamin B2 Supplements

If you are looking to supplements yourself with some Vitamin B2 supplements, check the lists with our recommended Vitamin B2 Supplements below.

BrandMg / CapsuleQuantity
🥇Solgar100 mg100 capsules
🥈Nutricost400 mg 120 capsules
🥉NOW Supplements100 mg100 capsules
👍Nature’s Bounty100 mg100 tablets
👍Micro Ingredients400 mg180 tablets

Vitamin B2 Side Effects

Taking a dose of more than 120mg of riboflavin per day for 10 months is not accompanied by side effects or toxicity. Because excess riboflavin is eliminated from the body, it is practically considered to be minimally toxic.

Related: Vitamin D: Sources, Health Benefits, Deficiency, Side effects, RDA

Vitamin B2 And Pregnancy

Vitamin B2 or Rivoflavin is a basic element of many enzymatic processes. It even appears, from experimental research, to be essential for the normal development of the embryo.

Administration of vitamin B2 during pregnancy greatly protects the development of anomalies from teratogenic substances. Vitamin B2 is taken with food and a complete diet always meets the daily requirements.

Vitamin B2 Interactions

DiureticsThiazide diuretics may increase riboflavin secretion.

Antibiotics – Riboflavin is unstable in the presence of the antibiotics erythromycin and tetracycline and should be taken separately from them.

Methotrexate – Riboflavin may affect the way cancer cells respond to the anti-cancer drug methotrexate.

Also, laxatives and alcohol block the metabolism of riboflavin. Furthermore, the activation of riboflavin in the liver may be inhibited by some antidepressant drugs.

Related: Vitamin K: Sources, Health Benefits, Deficiency, Side effects, RDA

Final Take

Vitamin B2 is an important Vitamin of the B Complex of vitamins that’s not synthesized in our bodies but have to be taken through our food or via supplementation.

We usually receive Vitamin B2 via our diets – without any effort. Not side effects or toxicity have been recorded as of yet because it is very difficult to accumulate large quantities of Vitamin B2 in our bodies. The reason is that Vitamin B2 is water-soluble meaning that its leaves our body though urine and sweat.

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