Riboflavin is one of those vitamins which occurs naturally in food in such small amounts that it is difficult to obtain enough of it simply by diet alone. Riboflavin helps the body to absorb and utilize Vitamin B6, so shortages of Riboflavin can contribute to a Vitamin B6 deficiency as well.
Riboflavin is necessary for cell respiration. This means it works with enzymes to assist in the utilization of oxygen (1). Riboflavin helps the mitochondria (fat-burning furnaces) of muscle cells to produce energy, so it is important for weight management (2). Also, the need for Riboflavin increases with even moderate exercise, so those who are trying through diet and exercise to lose weight need to make sure they have enough of this vitamin. Riboflavin also is necessary for good vision, skin, nails, and hair. In particular, it helps to prevent cataracts, as well as visual disturbances during pregnancy. It is also beneficial in helping hyperthyroidism, fevers, stress from injury or surgery, and malabsorption.
The RDA for Riboflavin is 1.6 milligrams for men and 1.2 milligrams for women, and with pregnancy and lactation requirements 1.5 and 1.7 milligrams respectively (1). However, since Riboflavin passes through the body in a matter of hours due to being water-soluble, any small stressor can cause a deficiency. Research has been done with dosages anywhere from 25 to 200 milligrams, and no toxicity has ever been found (2). Once again, it is important to take a complete B-complex rather than just a single vitamin, unless temporarily treating a particular condition with higher levels of one particular nutrient.
Symptoms of deficiency include: 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 slowed mental response (3).
Ailments which may benefit from Vitamin B2:
Stomach ulcers (peptic)
Sources for Vitamin B2:
Best sources are cheese, egg yolks, fish, legumes, meat, milk, poultry, spinach, whole grains, and yogurt. Other sources include asparagus, avocados, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, currants, dandelion greens, dulse, kelp, leafy greens, mushrooms, molasses, nuts, and watercress, alfalfa, bladderwrack, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, ginseng, hops, horsetail, mullein, nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaves, red clover, rose hips, sage, and yellow dock (3).
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Copyright 2015 Judie C. McMath and The Center for Unhindered Living
(1) Dunne, Lavon J. (1990). Nutrition Almanac. New York: McGraw-Hill, p. 23.
(2) Personal Health Lifestyles (2000). "Vitamin B2: Riboflavin." Available Online: [http://www.healingwithnutrition.com/vitamin.html#VitaminB2].
(3) Inner Self Publications. (2000). "Vitamin B2: Riboflavin." Available Online: [http://www.innerself.com/Health/guides/VITAMIN_B2.htm].