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Vitamins & minerals health centre

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is a B vitamin that helps the body release energy from metabolism of carbohydrates. It is essential for normal growth and cell repair including red blood cells and maintaining healthy skin, eyes and nervous system. Riboflavin changes tryptophan into niacin ( vitamin B3). It also helps protect cells from oxidative stress and helps reduce tiredness and fatigue.

Vitamin B2 uses

Studies have suggested that high doses of vitamin B2 have a beneficial role in preventing migraine by reducing the frequency of headaches. However, studies looking at the efficacy of medium doses of riboflavin in migraine prophylaxis in children were inconclusive.

It was recently considered that vitamin B2 has a possible preventive role in the formation of cataracts when taken as part of a multivitamin complex. The results of these studies were not clear while other studies found that high doses of vitamin B2 might increase eye damage from sunlight.

Vitamin B2 supplements can help people who have an actual deficiency. Elderly people and alcoholics are more likely to have riboflavin deficiency. Low levels of riboflavin or deficiency can cause skin rashes, sores and cracks at the corners of the mouth, anaemia, tiredness, red and sore eyes.

Health claims about vitamins have to be approved by the European Food Safety Authority. It rejected a claim that riboflavin is needed or important for mental function and performance. It also rejected claims it is necessary for healthy teeth, bones, hair, skin and nails.

Vitamin B2 food sources

Food sources of vitamin B2 are:

  • Meat and offal
  • Dark-green leafy vegetables
  • Legumes and nuts (almonds, soybeans)
  • Milk and cheese
  • Eggs
  • Whole grains, fortified cereals and breads, enriched flours
  • Rice
  • Yeast

Vitamin B2 daily requirement

The NHS says that the adult daily requirement of vitamin B2 is 1.3mg a day for men and 1.1mg a day for women. Vitamin B2 is not stored in the body and a balanced and healthy diet should provide the dietary requirements of riboflavin.

Vitamin B2 supplement information

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) usually comes in capsules or tablets. It is usually available in combination with other types of vitamin B or in vitamin B complex supplements.

Like any supplement, keep vitamin B2 supplements in a cool, dry place, away from humidity and direct sunlight.

Vitamin B2 warnings

  • Side-effects: Do not exceed a daily recommended dose of vitamin B2 supplement. There is insufficient evidence regarding the possible health risks of taking high dose vitamin B2 supplements. Allergies to riboflavin are rare and can cause hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat.
  • Possible interactions: anticholinergic drugs, doxorubicin, methrotrexate, antibiotics (tetracycline), antiepileptic drugs (phenytoin), tricyclic antidepressants, diuretics, gout drugs.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on March 03, 2017

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