Facts About Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

vitamin B2

Vitamin B2 is one of the complex of B vitamins. It plays many important roles within the body and is necessary for energy production within the body. In this article we will look at the function, benefits, deficiencies, toxicity, and sources of this vitamin.


Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is a water-soluble vitamin. Among its major functions are the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates into simpler forms. This provides the body with a source of energy to carry out a wide range of bodily functions.

It is a powerful antioxidant that is beneficial in treating a multitude of ailments. Anemia, migraines, heart problems, vision disorders, liver problems and healthy skin and hair are just a few of the conditions for which it is beneficial. Red blood cells, eyes, ears, and skin all rely on this nutrient for their healthy function.

Map Showing countries that buy the most Riboflavin.
Map Showing countries that buy the most Riboflavin. Keep in mind that North America fortifies certain food groups with Riboflavin, so that could be why its market size is high. You can read the full report on the Riboflavin market


The B vitamin riboflavin, as with all the B vitamins, is vital for promoting optimal nutritional status and overall health. Riboflavin is responsible for the breakdown of many nutrients found in food. The body uses it to produce energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The body cannot function without it.

There are other benefits of riboflavin, such as the prevention or treatment of certain conditions, such as: 

  • Cataracts
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Migraines
  • Dementia
  • Seizures
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Preeclampsia


Vitamin B2 has been shown to have a lot of potential as a potential treatment for migraine headaches, according to the National Institutes of Health. The cause of migraine is believed to be due to a change in the brainstem or a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Riboflavin seems to be able to help overcome these imbalances by improving the metabolism of the mitochondria within the brain cells and thereby increasing energy production within them.


It has also been shown that vitamin B2 may also be beneficial in the prevention of cancer in some individuals. It is thought that riboflavin acts as a protective agent against cellular DNA damage linked to agents such as tobacco smoke which can cause cancer.

Cancer at its core is caused by a breakdown in normal cellular function, which leads to the cells no longer undergoing the process of apoptosis. Tumors may form if this occurs and cells suddenly begin reproducing uncontrollably.

Some scientists believe that stabilizing cellular DNA may prevent cancers such as esophageal and cervical cancers. It is known that riboflavin deficiencies are independent risk factors for both conditions, but how much riboflavin is required in order to reduce the risk is unclear.


The power of riboflavin lies in the contribution it makes to the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, as well as its role in assisting in the production of energy.

Increases Circulation

The human body requires vitamin B2 to create red blood cells and antibodies. These cells help to increase oxygenation and circulation to numerous organs of the body.

Promotes Growth

In order for the reproductive organs to grow and develop normally, riboflavin is essential. It is also critical for the growth of body tissues, such as the skin, connective tissues, the lungs, the stomach, the intestines, and the gastrointestinal tract. Furthermore, it also makes certain that our skin, hair, and nails remain healthy.

Nervous System

It is believed that vitamin B2 may be helpful for treating many conditions of the nervous system, including paresthesia and anxiety. When riboflavin and vitamin B6 are combined, it is thought that riboflavin will effectively treat the painful symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Corneal Disorders

The lens of the eye becomes cloudy as a result of cataracts, which is a common aging condition. Riboflavin appears to lower the risk of cataract development in those who consume it. Also, riboflavin plays a key role in the synthesis of niacin, a nutrient that is associated with reduced cataract risk.

Keratoconus, a degenerative eye condition, is sometimes treated with riboflavin eye drops and ultraviolet (UV) light therapy. Riboflavin eye drops and ultraviolet light together strengthen corneal collagen and stabilize the lens.

Mineral Absorption

Vitamin B2 is important because it helps the body to better absorb minerals like iron, folic acid, and other vitamins such as vitamin B1, vitamin B3, and B6.

Immune System

By strengthening antibody reserves and strengthening the immune system, riboflavin also contributes to a stronger natural immunity.


Blood contains homocysteine, an amino acid commonly found in the body. There is a strong link between elevated homocysteine levels, also called homocysteinemia, and health problems that may include stroke, dementia, heart attacks, among others.

A riboflavin supplement taken regularly can reduce homocysteine levels in some people by up to 40%.

The following table shows the recommended daily allowances (RDA) for Vitamin B2 broken down by gender and age.

0 to 6 months0.3 mg0.3 mg
7 to12 months0.4 mg0.4 mg
1 to 3 years0.5 mg0.5 mg
4 to 8 years0.6 mg0.6 mg
9 to 13 years0.9 mg0.9 mg
14 to 18 years1.3 mg1.0 mg
19 to 50 years1.3 mg1.1 mg
51+ years1.3 mg1.1 mg
RDA for Riboflavin


North America has a very low incidence of riboflavin deficiency. Developing countries in Asia and Africa are more likely to suffer from riboflavin deficiency. The most common people who suffer from riboflavin deficiency are people over the age of 60, alcoholics, and women who use birth control pills. This is due to the fact that the body is unable to absorb as much riboflavin as usual.

It is generally understood that riboflavin deficiency is diagnosed through a combination of symptoms, urine tests, and a response to supplements that contain riboflavin. It is possible to correct the deficiency by taking large doses of riboflavin supplements orally.


Dietary deficiencies are the most common cause of riboflavin deficiencies. An insufficient supply of riboflavin can also occur when factors such as low absorption or increased excretion cause the body to lose the vitamin.

Riboflavin deficiency is commonly caused by the following factors:

  • Liver disorders
  • Not consuming enough meat
  • Not consuming enough cereal
  • Not consuming enough Dairy
  • Diarrhea
  • Alcoholism
  • Medications, such as Antianxiety and sedatives
  • Digestion issues that impact absorption of food
  • Dialysis
  • Renal Impairment
  • lactose intolerant
  • Anorexia
  • Birth Control Pill

Who Gets Vitamin B2 Deficiency?

Riboflavin deficiency is also called ariboflavinosis. People who belong to the following groups are the most at risk of suffering from a Riboflavin deficiency.

Pregnant and lactating women

Riboflavin deficiency can affect women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and rarely eat beef, pork, or dairy products. The risk of preeclampsia is increased when riboflavin deficiency occurs during pregnancy. Riboflavin supplements during pregnancy may have mixed benefits based on limited evidence.

Birth weight and length are positively related to riboflavin intake during pregnancy. During pregnancy, babies of mothers with low intakes of riboflavin, less than 1.2 mg/day, or deficient in this nutrient have an increased risk of riboflavin deficiency and birth defects.

Vegetarian athletes

Riboflavin is used by metabolic pathways undergoing stress during exercise. In some vegetarian diets, all animal products are excluded from the diet. This includes milk, yogurt, cheese, and eggs. As athletes they use up a lot of Riboflavin during their training, and their diets do not provide adequate Riboflavin. Because of this they are at increased risk of becoming riboflavin deficient.

vegans or people who do not consume milk or dairy

Dietary riboflavin is largely derived from meat and dairy products. Individuals who live in developing countries and consume fewer dairy products and meat products have an increased risk of being deficient in riboflavin. The same is true for vegans who do not eat meat or dairy products. Those who do not take vitamin B2 will run the risk of becoming deficient in it.

Riboflavin transporter deficiency

A rare neurological disorder is riboflavin transporter deficiency. This disorder is caused by mutations in the SLC52A3 or SLC52A2 genes. Infancy to early adulthood are the periods when it usually begins, and it is characterized by hearing loss, motor-neuron diseases, respiratory complications, and other symptoms.

Patients with this condition fail to absorb and transport riboflavin, which results in riboflavin deficiency. The treatment of riboflavin transporter deficiency in this population is riboflavin supplementation at high doses, especially when it is implemented soon after the onset of symptoms.

Timely High-dose administration of riboflavin can be a life-saving treatment in these patients.


As a result of consuming so little nutrition, they certainly do not get enough Vitamin B2

Lactose Intolerant

Because dairy is such a major source of Riboflavin, it stands to reason that because this group cannot consume dairy for obvious reasons, they are at higher risk.

Women on birth control pill

The birth control pill has been shown to inhibit the absorption of vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin C, magnesium, and zinc.


Deficiency of riboflavin can result in development problems such as cleft lip and palate, growth retardation, and cardiovascular disease.

Riboflavin deficiency is typically associated with other nutrient deficiencies, so this list might reflect signs and symptoms of these other deficiencies. When riboflavin levels are depleted, other nutrients, especially B vitamins, are impaired due to a diminished ability to synthesize flavin coenzymes.

Severe and prolonged riboflavin deficiency can lead to anemia and cataracts. Lips and mouth corners can also develop painful cracks as a result of deficiency.

Early detection and treatment of riboflavin deficiency can make reversing its effects easier.

The following is a list of some of the most common signs and symptoms of Riboflavin deficiency.

  • Cleft Lip or Palate
  • Slowed Growth
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Anemia
  • Cataracts
  • Cracked Lips and Mouth (cheilosis)
  • Skin Disorders
  • Hair Loss
  • Sore Throat
  • Itchy Red Eyes
  • Liver Problems
  • Nervous System Problems


Damage to the liver is the most common complication of excessive vitamin B2. In spite of this, it is rare to experience either excess riboflavin, or riboflavin toxicity. In order to overdose on riboflavin naturally, you would need to consume extraordinarily large amounts of food.

In theory, you may be able to consume too much vitamin B2 through oral or injection supplements. However, it is extremely rare since your body does not store this vitamin. This vitamin is a water-soluble one, and so it can be easily excreted from the body by the kidneys.

When your body excretes excess riboflavin, you will be able to tell rather easily. This is because your urine will appear very bright yellow, almost neon yellow due to the excess excretion.

In the case that one consumes large quantities of Riboflavin in the form of a supplement, there could be some minor side effects such as itchiness, burning, tingling, or over-sensitivity to light if there is a large quantity consumed at one time.


Milk and dairy products, bread and bread products are the main dietary sources of riboflavin in North America. Among those foods rich in riboflavin, eggs, organ meats such as kidneys and liver as well as lean meats and milk are a few recommended food choices. North America has fortified grains and cereals with riboflavin to improve their nutritional value.


  • Breakfast Cereals
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Mushrooms
  • Almonds
  • Quinoa
  • Bread & Bread products
  • Apple
  • Kidney Beans
  • Pasta
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Tomatoes
  • Rice
  • Spinach


  • Beef
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Dairy Products
  • Clams
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Fish