Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is a water-soluble vitamin. It helps the nerves and brain function properly. Riboflavin is also required for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver.
Riboflavin forms as an essential part of two coenzymes (proteins that help to speed up certain reactions in the body) namely: FMN (riboflavin-5’-phosphate) and FAD (flavin adenine dinucleotide). These coenzymes, and therefore riboflavin, play a role in:
- Energy production
- Cell function
- Growth and development
- Fat metabolism
- Drug metabolism
- Steroid metabolism
Vitamin B2 also plays an essential role in the formation of niacin, vitamin B3, and active vitamin B6. Vitamin B2 also helps to maintain normal levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid, found within the blood, that if present in excess can result in various diseases.
Vitamin B2 plays an important role in reducing inflammation of the nerves and oxidative stress, which is the build-up of free radicals (unstable molecules that can cause damage in the body). Nerve inflammation, oxidative stress and irregular mitochondria activity can all contribute to the formation of a migraine. For this reason, vitamin B2 is often used as a complementary treatment for migraines.
Riboflavin is found naturally in a variety of foods, has been added to various foods and can be found in supplemental form. Bacteria in the gut can form some vitamin B2 but not nearly enough to meet your daily needs. Being a water-soluble vitamin, that isn’t stored in the body in large amounts, you must consume sources of vitamin B2 daily to prevent a deficiency. One of the most frequently consumed natural food source of riboflavin is milk. Other good sources include enriched grains, animal protein sources such as meats (especially beef liver), almonds, and soybean.
Deficiency and Excess Intake
A riboflavin deficiency is not very common in adults as it can be found in a wide variety of foods. None the less, there are still groups of individuals who are at a higher risk for developing a vitamin B2 deficiency. This includes:
- Newborn babies receiving any form of light therapy – Riboflavin is easily deactivated by ultraviolet or visible light. Numerous newborn babies are exposed to prolonged light therapy to treat jaundice or other skin deficiencies. This prolonged light exposure often results in a riboflavin deficiency in newborn babies
- Vegan and vegetarians as some of the best sources of vitamin B2 are animal proteins and animal products
- Pregnant women due to the increased need of the fetus. Even more so pregnant vegan and vegetarian pregnant women
- Individuals with thyroid disorders
- Malnourished individuals
Being a water-soluble vitamin, the risk for riboflavin toxicity is rare. Not only does riboflavin not store well in the body but its absorption also significantly decreases beyond a certain point of consumption. As a result of the low risk, no tolerable upper limit (toxicity level or level at which riboflavin intake becomes harmful) has been set.
Riboflavin needs are related to total energy requirements for age, level of exercise, body size, metabolic rate, and even your genes! To find out if you have a higher vitamin B2 requirement based on your DNA, make the better choice and choose EatwellgxTM+.
Murray, D. (2016, May 5). PQQ: A Vital Nutrient for Mitochondrial Health, Memory, & Metabolism. Retrieved from NDNR – Naturopathic Doctor News & Review: https://ndnr.com/neurology/pqq-a-vital-nutrient-for-mitochondrial-health-memory-metabolism/