Another important and essential vitamin from the B-Complex family is Vitamin B2, also known as Riboflavin. Just like all other B Vitamins, Riboflavin is water soluble in nature and is needed in our body for its overall good health.
What Is Riboflavin?
The orange colored B vitamin Riboflavin helps in the process of metabolism and digestion in the human body. This B vitamin also helps in releasing energy by breaking down fats, protein and carbohydrates in the form of FMN and FAD. Riboflavin is also needed for maintaining the optimum red blood cell count in the body, and to strengthen the immune system.
Riboflavin along with other B Vitamins is needed for proper growth and reproduction in humans. It should be remembered that B-Complex vitamins are needed in our body for healthy – skin, hair, eyes and liver. In the human body, Riboflavin is found mainly in the liver, heart and the kidneys. Riboflavin from commonly found food sources also gets easily absorbed by the body cells.
Excess riboflavin is excreted from our system through urine as it is a water soluble vitamin. This vitamin is also needed for the proper functioning of all the other seven B complex vitamins, especially Vitamin B3 and Vitamin B6. Riboflavin helps in converting Vitamin B6 into proper form so that it can be absorbed in our body.
Another important property of Riboflavin is that it is anti-oxidant in nature. As an anti-oxidant vitamin, Riboflavin helps in fighting free radicals in the body. Riboflavin is readily available in natureand those who eat a balanced diet always have enough riboflavin in their system.
Riboflavin is found in the following food sources: Meats & diary products(beef liver, organic beef, chicken, salmon, cheese, eggs, yeast, yogurt, milk etc)
Fruits (such as Apricot, Apple, Mango, Papaya, Grapes, Dates, Avocado, Lemon, Pomegranate, Custard apple, blueberry, raisins etc) Vegetables (such as Green leafs, Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts, Carrot, Cabbage, Broccoli, Lettuce, French Beans, Mushrooms, Green Peas, Pumpkin, Spirulina, Squash winter, Sweet Potato etc) Nuts and Whole Grains(such as Almonds, Cashew, Pistachio, Walnut, Oats, Rye, Wheat, Sunflower seeds, Pumpkin seeds etc)
Functions & Benefits Of Vitamin B2
In the human body, Vitamin B2 has a variety of small but important roles to play. It regulates metabolism by looking after the functioning of the endocrine gland and the thyroid gland. Riboflavin is also responsible for the proper supply of Vitamin B3 (also known as Niacin) in the body. Riboflavin along with another enzyme helps in the conversion process of tryptophan into Niacin. This B vitamin is also responsible for the proper absorption of other minerals and folic acid in the body.
For Energy Production
The chief function of Riboflavin is to produce energy for the body. Riboflavin releases energy by converting into flavin adenine di-nucleotide (also known as FAD) and Flavin Mono-nucleotide(FMN).
For Better Immunity
This Vitamin B also helps in the proper functioning of the immune systemby looking after the digestive process in the body.
For A Healthy Heart
When the body does not have the right amount of Riboflavin it leads to the excess production of homocysteine. Excess homocysteine may lead to blood clotting, damage to blood vesselsand the possible risk of a heart attack.
For Fighting Free Radicals
Riboflavin has anti-oxidant properties and it helps in the production & recycle of Glutathione. Glutathione is an enzyme that fights free radicals in the body.
For Healthy Eyes
Riboflavin is needed during the treatment of eye related disorders such as cataract. This vitamin helps the human eyes to have normal vision. As per some studies, Riboflavin supplementscan prevent the occurrence of cataracts in humans.
For Treating Migraine Headache
Riboflavin may help in reducing migraine attacksby significantly reducing the frequency of such attacks and the duration of each attack.
For Healthy Skin
Riboflavin supplements help in treating skin problems like dryness,itchiness, acne, eczema and dermatitis.
Vitamin B2 can also be used for the treatment of the following conditions – rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, anemia, sclerosis and epilepsy.
Since Riboflavin is found in most of the fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products, we require about 1 to 1.7 mg of Riboflavin per day. For children, it is somewhere between 0.3 to 0.9 mg per day. Expecting mothers however, may need up to 1.8 mg of Riboflavin per day. Riboflavin supplementation is usually not required.
In case you are planning to use Vitamin B2 supplements, then the recommended dosage would be 1-2 capsules (25 mg, 50 mg and 100 mg) per day. On an average, people take 100 to 300 mg of Vitamin B2per day. For reducing migraine attacks a dosage of 400 mg of Riboflavin per day was used in a clinical study.
Deficiency Symptoms Of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Chronic deficiency of Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin is known as ariboflavinosis. Some of the possible deficiency symptoms of Vitamin B2 in the human body include – eye problems such as pale eyes, poor vision, sensitivity to bright lights, burning sensation near the eyes, sores near the lips, dry lips, hair loss & dull hair, itchy or damaged skin, poor digestion, anemia, throat problems, swollen & discolored tongue and dizziness. In general, deficiency of Vitamin B2 may affect our general well-being.
Deficiency of Riboflavin in pregnant women may lead to pre-eclampsia (hypertension). In young children, the deficiency of this vitamin may lead to poor growth.
Side Effects & Overdose
Riboflavin is water soluble therefore excess of this vitamin is easily flushed out through the urine. In case of over dose, the urine becomes dark yellow or orange in color.Natural form of Vitamin B2 is non-toxic even in excess amounts as it can be easily excreted from the human system.
However, supplements of Riboflavin may become toxic when taken in excess. Side effects due to Riboflavin supplements include – itchiness, numbness and burning sensation in the body.
How To Store?
Vitamin B2 rich food materials must be stored away from sunlight as exposure to light may decrease the riboflavin content. Since Vitamin B2 is water soluble, food materials rich in B2 should not be boiled or soaked. It can however be steamed or roasted for better results. Riboflavin supplements must be stored as per the instructions given in the product package.
Riboflavin supplements are best absorbed in the body when it is taken along with meals. Those who have been asked by their medical practitioner to take high amounts of Vitamin B2 supplements must always protect their eyes from the sun.
The following drugs may interact with Vitamin B2 supplements – Anticholinergic Drugs, Tetracycline, Tricyclic Antidepressants, phenothiazines, doxorubicin, Phenytoin (Dilantin), Probenecid, Methotrexate and thiazides such as hydrochlorothiazide.