Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an essential role in cellular function, growth, and energy production.
Amongst its vital roles are:
- converting food into energy
- the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates
- production of infection fighting immune cells
- works in conjunction with iron to produce red blood cells
- conversion of vitamins B3 and B6 into forms the body can use
- keeping skin, hair, nails, eyes, and mucous membranes healthy
- maintaining cognitive functions such as concentration, normal mood, and (verbal) memory.
- recent research has found that riboflavin is involved in the regulation of circadian (daily) rhythms in humans and other mammals.
Our bodies cannot produce riboflavin and very little can be stored by the body.
We must get riboflavin from foods and supplements. Depletion can occur quite rapidly so regular, preferably daily, intake is required.
Processing, cooking in water, defrosting and exposure to light will remove riboflavin from foods
Riboflavin occurs in low concentrations in many natural foods, but is quite easily lost. Foods that are a good source of riboflavin include: milk, eggs, some lean meats, liver, leafy green vegetables.
Your lifestyle may increase the risk of deficiency
Aside from a poor diet, deficiencies can occur due to:
- tea and coffee consumption
- alcohol intake
- heavy exercise
- high stress
Severe riboflavin deficiency is rare, but even a moderate deficit has health consequences. Some of the symptoms of mild deficiency are similar for all B Group vitamins:
- energy production is reduced which can cause tiredness, irritability, fatigue, and apathy.
- nervous system symptoms such as muscle weakness, cramps and numbness.
In addition, mild riboflavin deficiency may cause: cracked and red lips, inflammation of the lining of mouth and tongue, mouth ulcers, cracks at the corners of the mouth, a sore throat, dry and scaling skin, fluid in the mucous membranes. The eyes may also become bloodshot, itchy, watery and sensitive to bright light.
|Age||Estimated Average Requirements (EAR)||Recommended Daily Intake (RDI)|
|Women||19-70 yr||0.9 mg/day||1.1 mg/day|
|Women||>70 yr||1.1 mg/day||1.3 mg/day|
|Men||19-70 yr||1.1 mg/day||1.3 mg/day|
|Men||>70 yr||1.3 mg/day||1.6 mg/day|
|Boys||14-18 yr||1.1 mg/day||1.3 mg/day|
|Girls||14-18 yr||0.9 mg/day||1.1 mg/day|
|Boys||9-13 yr||0.8 mg/day||0.9 mg/day|
|Girls||9-13 yr||0.8 mg/day||0.9 mg/day|
|Children||4-8 yr||0.5 mg/day||0.6 mg/day|
|Children||1-3 yr||0.4 mg/day||0.5 mg/day|
There are no adverse effects associated with high doses of riboflavin because the body is efficient at eliminating excess amounts. High intakes can turn the urine a bright yellow – but this is a harmless side effect.