The Importance of Vitamin B2: Riboflavin

Riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin in the B vitamin group, which aids in metabolism, growth and development, digestion and oxygen processes within the body.




Vitamin B2 is regularly excreted from the body in the urine, so a steady intake of the vitamin is needed in order for it to do its job. It’s helpful to know that it’s easy to obtain adequate amounts of riboflavin from the foods we eat everyday.

What’s So Great About Riboflavin? 

Many of the conditions that riboflavin can impact may also require a physician’s care, but improving your diet is never a bad idea and can render your need for medication unnecessary.

  • Riboflavin protects against cell damage from free radicals, thereby lowering cancer, heart disease and arthritis risk; strengthening the immune and nervous systems; slowing the aging process; and encouraging better liver function.
  • Adequate riboflavin intake helps your body to absorb iron better and prevent iron deficiency and anemia.
  • Riboflavin keeps the body and blood oxygenated by aiding in the production and process of red blood cells. Consequently, blood circulation is smoother, and the body stays warmer.
  • Riboflavin also makes it easier to digest and process vitamins B3 (niacin), B6 (pantothenic acid) and B9 (folate).
  • The antioxidants in riboflavin help to prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts, which can lead to blindness in old age if left untreated.
  • Increased riboflavin intake has also been known to soothe and eliminate migraine headaches.
  • Riboflavin helps to convert food into energy, as well as aid in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
  • Eating more riboflavin-rich foods encourage healthy skin, eyes, hair and mouth.
  • Since riboflavin helps to strengthen the wall and muscles of the digestive tract, the digestion process flows smoother and bowel movements are more regulated.

Foods Rich in Riboflavin 

Riboflavin-rich foods include milk and dairy products, eggs, whole grain, beef liver, chicken, turkey, lamb, soybeans, almonds, broccoli, collard greens, parsley, tomatoes, pastas, mushrooms, green peas, pancakes, waffles, breads and fortified cereals.

What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough

Though riboflavin deficiency is uncommon in adults, since the vitamin is so readily available in many of the foods we eat on a daily basis, children and those with certain conditions may have some issues getting an adequate amount.

Those susceptible to riboflavin deficiency includes burn victims, cancer and heart disease patients, diabetics, alcoholics, woman using oral contraception, individuals who experience sustained high levels of stress, those with impaired immune systems, those who are lactose intolerant, anorexics, and those who suffer from other types of malnutrition.

When riboflavin intake is lacking, people may experience cracked lips, dry mouth, sore throat, mouth sores and inflammation, dry and itchy skin, irritated eyes, and iron-deficiency anemia. Furthermore, children may experience stunted growth, as well as these other symptoms.

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