Vitamin B2: Sources and Symptoms of Deficiency

Vitamin B2 is an essential vitamin that aids numerous bodily functions. One of its significant uses is in the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein, and fats into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is vital to keep one running high on energy. Learn more about where to get this vitamin here.

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Vitamin B is vital for health, specifically vitamin B2. This B vitamin is also called riboflavin and is found in dairy products, plants, and grains. So, what role does it play in the body? Plus, what are the benefits of this B vitamin? Here is everything you need to know.

What Is Vitamin B2?

Riboflavin is a vitamin that’s water-soluble, and it plays a significant part in maintaining your body’s supply of energy. It does this by converting carbohydrates to adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This compound helps store energy in the muscles.

Moreover, riboflavin helps in breaking down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It also helps in maintaining tissue health and the absorption of other vital nutrients. This B vitamin is crucial for the following reasons:

  • Absorb and Activate Vitamins B1, B3, B6, Folic Acid, and Iron
  • Aid Adrenal Glands in the Production of Hormones
  • Convert Tryptophan to Niacin
  • Development of the Fetus
  • Keep Skin, Muscles, Nerves, and Eyes Healthy
  • Maintain Healthy Liver
  • Maintain the Digestive System’s Mucous Membranes
  • Prevent Cataract Development

Sources of Riboflavin

This B vitamin is found in food. Take note, however, that the way food is prepared affects the amount and quality of riboflavin. For example, microwaving or steaming food rich in this B vitamin can lose twice the amount. Riboflavin is found in the following food:

Avocado Asparagus Molasses Pumpkin
Artichoke Egg Mushrooms Rosehip
Dairy products Fish Nuts Sage
Beans and legumes Currants Parsley Sweet potato
Fortified cereal Kelp Cayenne Whole grain
Cruciferous vegetables Meat Poultry Yeast extract

As for the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of this B vitamin, it is as follows:

  • For Females Over the Age of 19: 1.1 mg in a day
  • For Males Over the Age of 19: 1.3 mg in a day
  • For Pregnant Women: 1.4 mg in a day
  • For Breastfeeding Women: 1.6 mg in a day

Symptoms of Riboflavin Deficiency

Riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin. It means that the body does not store it. Instead, it is excreted from the body. So, there is a risk for a deficiency, especially if one’s diet is unhealthy. For riboflavin deficiency which is called ariboflavinosis, there are two types.

  1. Primary Ariboflavinosis: This occurs when there is an inefficient amount of vitamin B2 in the diet.
  2. Beans and legumes: A secondary riboflavin deficiency occurs for other reasons. It may be because this B vitamin is excreted rapidly from the body or that the body cannot use it. Another reason is that the B vitamin is not properly absorbed by the intestines.

The common symptoms of ariboflavinosis are as follows:

Bloodshot, Watery, or Itchy Eyes Dry skin
Cracked Lips or Cracks in the Corners of the Mouth Mouth ulcer
Fluid in the mucous membrane Inflamed tongue
Inflamed lining of the mouth Red lips
Light sensitivity Scrotal dermatitis
Iron deficiency anemia Sore throat

Individuals who consume alcohol in excessive amounts are those at a heightened risk of getting ariboflavinosis.

Treating Riboflavin Deficiency

A person who is deficient in this B vitamin is most probably deficient in other vitamins as well. Before the treatment of the deficiency is done, your doctor will measure the amount of riboflavin in the urine. This is to confirm ariboflavinosis. Treatment is done either orally or by injections.

  • For Oral Supplements: A dose of 2 to 10 mg is given three times a day. The dosage is reduced once the symptoms of deficiency improve. A reduced dose is around 2 to 4 mg given once in a day.
  • For Injections: If oral supplements fail to treat the deficiency, vitamin B2 injections are administered. Adults will receive approximately 1 to 1.6 mg in a day. As for breastfeeding and pregnant women, the dose is higher.

Benefits of Riboflavin

As mentioned, riboflavin is beneficial to one’s health and well-being. Here are just some benefits of this B vitamin.

1. Prevents Anemia

There are several factors that can cause anemia. Prevent this by consuming food rich in vitamin B2. Riboflavin helps increase red blood cell production. Moreover, it helps in the mobilization of oxygen and the transportation of oxygen to the cells.

2. Prevents Headaches and Migraines

A prescription of 400 mg riboflavin daily is given by doctors as preventive management for headaches. This amount is consumed for at least three months. Adding riboflavin supplements to the diet is also proven to reduce the frequency of headaches and migraines. Moreover, it can help reduce the pain and shorten a migraine’s duration.

3. Prevents Neurological Diseases

According to recent studies, riboflavin guards against neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis, migraines, and Parkinson’s disease. It provides a neuroprotective effect by assisting in the formation of myelin, metabolism of iron, and mitochondrial function. Moreover, this B vitamin works as an antioxidant that fights the effects of unstable molecules also known as free radicals.

4. Supports Health of the Eyes

A deficiency in this B vitamin heightens the risk of getting afflicted with eye problems such as glaucoma. This is the primary reason for blindness. Prevent glaucoma from occurring with the help of riboflavin. It is also used as a treatment for disorders of the eyes. Riboflavin is used as drops and placed in the corneal surface of patients suffering from glaucoma. This vitamin increases the cornea’s strength.

5. Protects Skin and Hair

The volume of collagen in the body is maintained with the help of riboflavin. Collagen is vital in maintaining the structure of the skin. It also prevents the presence of wrinkles and fine lines. Furthermore, this B vitamin aids in reducing inflammation of the skin, slowing down the signs of skin aging and decreasing wound healing time.

6. Maintains Suitable Levels of Energy in the Body

In mitochondrial energy, riboflavin is a significant component. The body uses this B vitamin to maintain hormone, digestive, nerve, and brain function. Moreover, it is used by the body in the metabolism of food into energy. If there is a deficiency of vitamin B2, then the body fails to digest protein, fat, and carbohydrate properly into ATP. ATP is the fuel that helps keep one’s body energized.

Things to know about riboflavin

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