Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

As one of the eight B-complex vitamins, vitamin B1 is water solubile. Riboflavin 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. It also changes vitamin B6 and folate (vitamin B9) into forms that the body can use.

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.

Vitamin B2 deficiency

Riboflavin deficiency (called ariboflavinosis) is very rare and it can appear at intakes of less than 0.5-0.6 mg/day.

Too little riboflavin can cause cracking and reddening of the lips, a swollen tongue, skin cracking (including cracked corners of the mouth), dermatitis, weakness, throat swelling/soreness and even iron deficiency anemia. Riboflavin/vitamin B2 deficiency can also affect vision, including blurred vision and itching, watering, sore, or bloodshot eyes, as well eyes becoming light-sensitive and easily fatigued.

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. Women who take birth control pills may also benefit from supplementation – the body’s ability to absorb riboflavin is reduced when taking birth control pills.

Food sources

Here is the list of food rich in vitamin B2:

  • cheese and milk (goat cheese contains more B2 than feta, brie or roquefort)
  • nuts (almonds, pistachio, pine nuts, walnuts)
  • pork, beef and lamb meat liver
  • oily fish (like mackerel, salmon, trout, tuna)
  • eggs (hard boiled eggs contain more riboflavin than scrambled eggs)
  • seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, chia seeds)
  • spinach and other green vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, dandelion)

Supplements dosage

To prevent deficiency, the amount taken by mouth is based on normal daily recommended intakes (for oral dosage form-tablets):

  • Adults and teenage males—1.4 to 1.8 milligrams (mg) per day.
  • Adults and teenage females—1.2 to 1.3 mg per day.
  • Pregnant females—1.6 mg per day.
  • Breast-feeding females—1.7 to 1.8 mg per day.
  • Children 7 to 10 years of age—1.2 mg per day.
  • Children 4 to 6 years of age—1.1 mg per day.
  • Children birth to 3 years of age—0.4 to 0.8 mg per day

Can it be harmful?

Since research trials have used doses of supplemental vitamin B2 more than 20 times the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) without any evidence for adverse effect, it is highly unlikely that you could eat too much vitamin B2 under any circumstance.

Vitamin B2 can tend to make the urine appear very yellow, diets rich in vitamin B2 may induce this effect. It is not considered harmful, but it may appear unusual at first.

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