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Vitamin B2 or riboflavin

Posted on 06. Nov, 2010 by .


Vitamin B2, also called riboflavin.

In addition to producing energy for the body, riboflavin also works as an antioxidant by scavenging damaging particles in the body known as free radicals. Free radicals occur naturally in the body but 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 neutralize free radicals and may reduce or help prevent some of the damage they cause.

Riboflavin is also needed to help the body convert vitamin B6 and folate into active forms. It is also important for body 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 fatigue; slowed growth; digestive problems; cracks and sores around the corners of the mouth; swollen magenta tongue; eye fatigue; swelling and soreness of the throat; and sensitivity to light. Riboflavin is an important nutrient in the prevention of headache and some visual disturbances, particularly cataracts.

riboflavin – is required for

It is required by the body to use oxygen and the metabolism of amino acids, fatty acids, and carbohydrates. Riboflavin is further needed to activate vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), helps to create niacin and assists the adrenal gland. It may be used for red blood cell formation, antibody production, cell respiration, and growth.

It eases watery eye fatigue and may be helpful in the prevention and treatment of cataracts. Vitamin B2 is required for the health of the mucus membranes in the digestive tract and helps with the absorption of iron and vitamin B6.

Although it is needed for periods of rapid growth, it is also needed when protein intake is high, and is most beneficial to the skin, hair and nails.


Children with sickle-cell anemia (a blood disorder characterized by abnormally shaped red blood cells) tend to have lower levels of certain antioxidants, including riboflavin. The same is also true of people with iron deficiency anemia, and studies suggest that taking riboflavin supplements may improve the response to iron therapy.

Deficiency of vitamin B2

A shortage of this vitamin may manifest itself as cracks and sores at the corners of the mouth, eye disorders, inflammation of the mouth and tongue, and skin lesions.

Dermatitis, dizziness, hair loss, insomnia, light sensitivity, poor digestion, retarded growth, and slow mental responses have also been reported. Burning feet can also be indicative of a shortage


Vitamin B2, along with other nutrients, is important for normal vision, and preliminary evidence shows 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-riboflavin supplement had significantly less cataracts. However, researchers don’t know whether that was due to riboflavin, niacin, or the combination of the two. And levels above 10 mg per day of riboflavin can actually promote damage to the eye from the sun. More research is needed to see if riboflavin has any real benefit in preventing cataracts.

Migraine Headache

Several studies indicate that people who get migraines may decrease the frequency and duration of the headache 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. The study did not compare riboflavin to conventional medications used to prevent migraines, however, so more research is needed.

Dietary Sources:

The best sources of riboflavin include brewer’s yeast, almonds, organ meats, whole grains, wheat germ, wild rice, mushrooms, soybeans, milk, yogurt, eggs, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and spinach. 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. During cooking, roasting and steaming preserves more riboflavin than frying or scalding.

Available Forms:

Riboflavin is generally included in multivitamins and B-complex vitamins, and comes individually in 25-, 50-, and 100-mg tablets.

How to Take It:

As with all medicines, check with a health care provider before giving riboflavin supplements to a child.

Daily recommendations for dietary riboflavin are listed below.


  • Infants birth – 6 months: 0.3 mg (adequate intake)
  • Infants 7 – 12 months: 0.4 mg (adequate intake)
  • Children 1 – 3 years: 0.5 mg (RDA)
  • Children 4 – 8 years: 0.6 mg (RDA)
  • Children 9 – 13 years: 0.9 mg (RDA)
  • Males 14 – 18 years: 1.3 mg (RDA)
  • Females 14 – 18 years: 1 mg (RDA)


  • Males 19 years and older: 1.3 mg (RDA)
  • Females 19 years and older: 1.1 mg (RDA)
  • Pregnant females: 1.4 mg (RDA)
  • Breastfeeding females: 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. A good rule of thumb when selecting a multivitamin is to look for one that includes 100 – 300% of the daily value for all essential vitamins and minerals. You should also look for supplements that are designed to be taken 2 – 4 times daily to get these amounts, as opposed to one-a-day varieties. Check with a knowledgeable health care provider if you are considering supplement doses higher than twice the daily value.


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. However, because doses above 10 mg per day may cause eye damage from the sun, people who take high doses should wear sunglasses that protect their eyes from ultraviolet light.

Riboflavin does not appear to cause any serious side effects. Very high doses may cause itching, numbness, burning or prickling sensations, yellow or orange urine, and sensitivity to light.

Taking any one of the B complex vitamins individually for a long period of time can result in an imbalance of the other B vitamins. For this reason, it is generally important to take a B complex vitamin with any single B vitamin.

Possible Interactions:

If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use vitamin B2 supplements without first talking to your health care provider.

Anticholinergic Drugs — Used to treat a variety of conditions, including gastrointestinal spasms, asthma, depression, and motion sickness, these drugs may inhibit the body’s ability to absorb riboflavin.

Tetracycline — Riboflavin interferes with the absorption and effectiveness of tetracycline, an antibiotic. (All vitamin B complex supplements act in this way.) You should take riboflavin at a different time during the day from when you take tetracycline.

Tricyclic Antidepressants — Tricyclic antidepressants may reduce levels of riboflavin in the body. In addition to raising levels of the vitamin in the body, taking riboflavin may also improve the effects of these antidepressants. They include:

  • Imipramine (Tofranil)
  • Desimpramine (Norpramin)
  • Amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • Nortriptyline (Pamelor)
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