Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is one of eight B vitamins that are essential for human health. It can be found in meats, grains, plants, and dairy products. It is crucial for breaking down food components, absorbing other nutrients, and maintaining tissues.
Vitamin B2 is water soluble, so cooking foods can cause it to be lost. About
Riboflavin occurs naturally in some foods, added to others, and it can be taken as supplements. Most of it is
A diet rich in vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is needed to avoid riboflavin deficiency. Recommended daily allowances of B2 are 1.3 mg a day for men and 1.1 mg a day for women. Pregnant women need 1.4 mg daily, and breast-feeding mothers should have 1.6 mg each day.
Riboflavin helps your body break down and use the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in your diet and helps metabolize food into energy. This type of B vitamin also functions to keep your skin, the lining of your gut, and your blood cells healthy. Getting enough riboflavin may be preventive for migraine headaches and cataracts, according to the National Institutes of Health. Riboflavin may also increase energy levels, boost the immune system, and treat acne, muscle cramps, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Vitamin B2 deficiency is a significant risk when diet is poor, because the human body excretes the vitamin continuously, so it is not stored. A person who has a B2 deficiency normally lacks other vitamins too.
There are two types of riboflavin deficiency:
- Primary riboflavin deficiency happens when the person’s diet is poor in vitamin B2
- Secondary riboflavin deficiency happens for another reason, maybe because the intestines cannot absorb the vitamin properly, or the body cannot use it, or because it is being excreted too rapidly
Riboflavin deficiency is also known as ariboflavinosis.
Signs and symptoms of deficiency include:
- Angular cheilitis, or cracks at the corners of the mouth
- Cracked lips
- Dry skin
- Inflammation of the lining of the mouth
- Inflammation of the tongue
- Mouth ulcers
- Red lips
- Sore throat
- Scrotal dermatitis
- Fluid in mucous membranes
- Iron-deficiency anemia
- Eyes may be sensitive to bright light, and they may be itchy, watery, or bloodshot
People who drink excessive amounts of alcohol are at greater risk of vitamin B deficiency.
Normally, vitamin B2 is considered safe. An overdose is unlikely, as the body can absorb up to around
However, it is important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any supplements, especially as these can interfere with other medications. B2 supplements may impact the effectiveness of some drugs, such as anticholinergic medications and tetracycline.
Drugs that may interfere with riboflavin levels in the body include:
- Tricyclic antidepressants, such as imipramine, or Tofranil
- Some antipsychotic drugs, such as chlorpromazine, or Thorazine
- Methotrexate, used for cancer and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Phenytoin, or Dilantin, used to control seizures
- Probenecid, for gout
- Thiazide diuretics, or water pills
Doxorubicin, a drug used in cancer therapy, may deplete levels of riboflavin, and riboflavin may affect how doxorubicin works.
The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM) note that very high amounts of vitamin B2 may lead to itching, numbness, burning or prickling, yellow or orange urine and sensitivity to light. To prevent an imbalance of B vitamins, they suggest using a B-complex vitamin if supplementation is needed.
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