Vitamin B2, Riboflavin

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is unique among the water-soluble vitamins in that milk and dairy products make the greatest contribution to its intake in Western diets. Meat and fish are also good sources of riboflavin, and certain fruit and vegetables, especially dark-green vegetables, contain reasonably high concentrations. Riboflavin functions in two important enzymes involved in energy production. Riboflavin deficiency results in decreased energy production, particularly in cells that replicate frequently, such as the skin and mucus membrane (eye, mouth, etc.). Early riboflavin deficiency is characterized by cracking of lips and corners of the mouth; an inflamed tongue; visual disturbances, such as sensitivity to light and loss of visual acuity; cataract formation; burning and itching of the eyes, lips, mouth, and tongue. There is reasonably good evidence that riboflavin deficiency leads to anemia when iron intakes are low.

Cataract is a most important cause of disability and blindness. Cataracts were shown to be associated with riboflavin deficiency in animals in the 1930s and subsequently with deficiencies of amino acids, vitamins and some minerals. Although cataract formation depends on many factors such as smoking, medication and industrial chemicals, researchers suggest that vitamin B2 deficiency is one of the most important factors contributing to developing cataracts.

Rich Sources of Vitamin B2

Rich Sources of Vitamin B2 include organ meat such as beef, calf, lamb and chicken liver, kidney and heart, as well as brewer yeast. Good plant sources of riboflavin are almonds, mushrooms, wheat germ and wild rice.

Vitamin B2 Quick Calculator

So, what daily foods can supply the recommended 1.3 milligrams of vitamin B2 and give you that blissful peace of mind and a great feeling of being full of energy? Here is a selection of some foods:

  • Beef liver, braised (3 oz) - 205% RDA
  • Lamb liver, braised (3 oz) - 202% RDA
  • Chicken liver, simmered (3 oz) - 71% RDA
  • Almonds (3.5 oz) - 70% RDA
  • Wheat germ (3.5 oz) - 52% RDA
  • Wild rice (3.5 oz) - 48% RDA
  • Fat-free yogurt (1 cup) - 30% RDA
  • Mushrooms (3.5 oz) - 29% RDA
  • Low-fat yogurt (1 cup) - 28% RDA
  • Collards (3 oz) - 23% RDA
  • Swiss cheese (1 oz) - 23% RDA
  • Broccoli (3 oz) - 17% RDA

Riboflavin plays an important role in production of enzymes scavenging free radicals and reactive oxygen species, thus protecting the body from cancer. Riboflavin deficiency decreases antioxidants activity in liver cells, causing damage to proteins and DNA, and cell cycle arrest.

What May Cause Riboflavin Deficiency?

1. Poor nutrition - people who get most of their calories from sugar and fat are at greater risk to develop riboflavin deficiency. Many adult Americans do not consume the RDA of 1.3 milligrams and are at risk of developing serious health disorders. Women and children are most at risk.

2. Respiratory infection, parasite infection (hookworm), certain diseases, drugs and hormones can influence riboflavin levels and utilization.