Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – sources, benefits and risks


vitamin b2 food

Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is another of the water-soluble vitamins. Unfortunately, it is easily destroyed by exposure to light, so foods high in vitamin B2 should be packaged and stored accordingly.

Regular consumption of dairy products, eggs, leafy green vegetables, peas and beans, and nuts guarantees adequate levels of vitamin B2. Some breads and cereals are also fortified with vitamin B2. The best natural sources of vitamin B2 are brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, and almonds.

Because vitamin B2 is synergistic – that is, working best in the presence of other B vitamins – those on restricted or inadequately nourishing diets are advised to take vitamin B2 in the form of vitamin B complex. This way, normal growth, red blood cell production, energy levels, central nervous system responses – even healthy skin, hair, eyes and liver – are assured.

Vitamin B2 is also an antioxidant. That is, vitamin B2 destroys damaging particles (i.e., free radicals) circulating in the human body. These particles, left unchecked, can cause aging, disease, and even death.

Some of the effects of vitamin B2 deficiency are:

• Cracks and sores at the outer corners of the lips
• Sensitivity to light, and eye fatigue
• Slow growth
• Swollen, purplish tongue
• Swollen, sore throat
• Tiredness

In several studies, vitamin B2 – alone or with other B vitamins – has been suggested as a cure for cataracts, migraine headaches, and even autism.

Daily recommended levels of vitamin B2, or riboflavin, are 1.2 milligrams (mg) for men, 1 mg for women, and about 0.6 mg for children. At very high doses (i.e., 10 mg+ per day), vitamin B2 may cause itching, numbness, burning or prickling skin, yellow or orange urine, and sensitivity to light. People who take supplemental vitamin B2 should wear sunglasses and provide screen protection for their PCs and laptops.

Vitamin B2 can also interfere with the effectiveness of prescription medicines, so consult a doctor before taking supplements.