Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

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General Description:

  • a water-soluble vitamin


  • riboflavin works at the most basic level in your body – helping you to metabolize proteins, fats, and carbohydrates
  • essential for growth and general health
  • essential for healthy eyes, skin, nails, and hair
  • may help in the prevention of some types of cataracts
  • it functions especially to help the mitochondria fo your muscle cells to produce energy
  • also acts as an antioxidant in the mitochondria
  • prevents excessively oily skin
  • involved with glutathione reductase, which helps maintain glutathione


  • when it occurs, riboflavin deficiency does not usually do so alone. Normally there are also deficiencies of other B vitamins as well
  • RDA is 1.7 mg./day
  • average diet provides almost 2.5 mg. of riboflavin
  • symptoms can occur in many different parts of the body, but the eyes are often first to react, becoming sensitive to light and quick to tire, itching, watering, bloodshot and sore
  • other symptoms: dull or oily hair, oily skin, premature wrinkles on face and arms, eczema, split nails
  • inflammation of the mouth as well as cracks around the corners of the mouth may also occur
  • the best known symptom is cheilosis
  • gout drugs, antibiotics, and CNS drugs can decrease riboflavin absorption and diuretics increase the amount of riboflavin excreted
  • in addition, oral contraceptives may change the way the body uses many vitamins including riboflavin
  • you need more riboflavin if you are active because riboflavin is intimately involved in the burning of calories for energy (ie. body’s need for riboflavin corresponds directly to the number of calories consumed each day)
  • growth, pregnancy, and breast-feeding increase riboflavin needs
  • hepatitis, cirrhosis, and biliary obstruction decrease the body’s ability to absorb riboflavin
  • illnesses involving fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and other physical stresses can also increase the body’s need for riboflavin.
  • the body’s need for riboflavin corresponds directly to the number of calories consumed
  • a deficiency of B2, as with other vitamins, can lead to a horrendous cascade of events: first impairing B12 metabolism, which affects vitamin C metabolism, which leads to a depletion of C, which impairs iron absorption, which encourages excessive copper absorption, which impairs zinc metabolism, etc. (note that this is only one of the many possible sequences that can occur)

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • chances of overdosing on B2 are slim
  • cancer patients should not take B2 supplements without approval because riboflavin deficiency has been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors


  • brewer’s yeast, torula yeast, wheat germ, almonds, sunflower seeds, cooked leafy vegetables

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