Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Benefits, Dietary Sources, Deficiency, Side Effects

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Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is one of the eight B-complex vitamins. Like other B vitamins, it plays a role in energy production in the body, but also has many other important uses. Riboflavin is a well-absorbed water-soluble vitamin, which has a key role to play in maintaining overall human health. Below are listed its major health benefits.

Health Benefits Of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

1. Helps Support Eye Health

Studies have shown that riboflavin deficiency increases the risk for certain eye problems. Vitamin B2 can help prevent eye disorders including cataracts, keratoconus, and glaucoma. Research has shown a correlation between people who consume plenty of riboflavin and decreased risks for eye disorders that can appear as someone ages.

To treat eye disorders, riboflavin drops are applied to patient’s corneal surface who suffer from glaucoma, allowing the vitamin to penetrate through the cornea and to increase the strength of the cornea when used with light therapy.

2. Increases Blood Circulation

Vitamin B2 is essential for the formation of fresh red blood cells and antibodies in humans, which increases circulation and oxygenation to various organs of the body.

3. Protects Healthy Skin and Hair

Riboflavin plays a key role in maintaining levels of collagen, which is needed to maintain the young structure of skin and also prevent wrinkles and fine lines. Low levels of this vitamin can result in premature aging. Some studies suggest that riboflavin can decrease the time required for healing wounds, provide relief from skin inflammation and chapped lips, and can help automatically slow down signs of premature aging.

4. Vitamin B2 Plays a Protective Role in Bones

B2 and other B vitamin play a protective role in bone health. In an experimental study, those who had the lowest intake of Riboflavin had a higher chance of getting fractures. Increased intake of Riboflavin leads to more bone mass density in the neck.

5. Protects the Nervous System

Like other B vitamins, vitamin B2 has a protective effect on the nervous system. The nervous system is the headquarters that controls all the body’s processes. That is why it is so important to keep the nervous system functioning properly. Disorders that are connected to the nervous system are Alzheimer’s disease, sclerosis, anxiety, depression, and even epilepsy. Riboflavin can also be used to help to alleviate the symptoms of any existing nervous disorders.

6. Prevents Anemia

Vitamin B2 is required for the synthesis of red blood cells (RBCs) that carry oxygen throughout the body. It also plays a role in absorption of iron, a mineral responsible for binding oxygen. Therefore, low levels of B2 can also lower the levels of iron in the body, causing fatigue and tiredness due to development of anemia.

Dietary Sources of Riboflavin

Vitamin B2 is water soluble, so cooking foods can cause it to be lost. About twice as much B2 is lost through boiling as it is through steaming or microwaving. Enjoy raw food when possible. Here are some of the best food sources of B2:

Fish, meat, and poultry, such as turkey, chicken, beef, kidneys, and liver
Dairy products
Fortified cereals
Lima beans, navy beans, and peas
Sweet potatoes
Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, dandelion greens, and watercress
Whole-grain bread, enriched bread, and wheat bran
Yeast extract

How Much Do We Need?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of riboflavin for adults is 1.3 mg per day for males, 1.1 mg per day for women, 1.4 mg per day for pregnant females, and 1.6 mg per day for lactating women.

Signs of a Vitamin B2 Deficiency Can Include

Nerve damage
A sluggish metabolism
Mouth or lip sores or cracks
Skin inflammation and skin disorders, especially around the nose and face
Inflamed mouth and tongue
A sore throat
Swelling of mucous membranes
Changes in mood, such as increased anxiety and signs of depression

Concerns and Interactions of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Research suggests that people taking certain medications that affect the absorption rate of Vitamin B2 in the body will want to take precaution. While these interactions are only known to be minor, they are something you will want to speak with your doctor about if you take any of the following prescription medications:

• Drying medications (Anticholinergic drugs)- these can affect the stomach and intestines and can increase the amount of riboflavin that is absorbed in the body.

• Medications for depression (Tricyclic antidepressants) – it’s possible that these can decrease the amount of riboflavin in the body.

• Phenobarbital (Luminal)- Phenobarbital might increase how quickly riboflavin is broken down in the body.

• Probenecid (Benemid)- can increase how much riboflavin is absorbed into the body, possibly causing too much to linger which can be problematic.

Are There Any Risks Associated With Too Much Vitamin B2?

There is no known toxicity to riboflavin. Because riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin, excess amounts are easily excreted by the body in the urine. Possible reactions to very high doses may include itching, numbness, burning or prickling sensations, and sensitivity to light. Excess riboflavin excreted in the urine causes it to become bright yellow in color, which many people notice when they take B vitamin supplements.

Sources & References:

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