What is Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)?
Riboflavin, also known as Vitamin B2, is one of the 8 essential B vitamins that our bodies need to function properly. As a powder, riboflavin has a yellow-orange hue. You can obtain riboflavin from a variety of dietary sources. It is a vital nutrient that plays a crucial role in various metabolic processes, and therefore in maintaining our overall health and well-being. Riboflavin is water-soluble, meaning it dissolves in water and is not stored in the body, making it necessary to consume it regularly through your diet. Riboflavin 5'-phosphate sodium is the biologically active form of riboflavin, which we will focus on. This article delves deeper into Riboflavin’s health implications, and the recommended ways to safely incorporate it into your diet.
Purported Health Implications of Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
Energy Production: Riboflavin is a cofactor for enzymes involved in energy production within our cells. It helps convert carbohydrates, fats, and proteins from our diet into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the primary energy currency of our cells .
Antioxidant Properties: Riboflavin also acts as an antioxidant, protecting our cells from oxidative stress. This means it helps prevent cell damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals, which can contribute to various chronic diseases. However further research on the therapeutic effect of riboflavin as an antioxidant concerning clinical diseases is required .
Skin and Eye Health: Riboflavin is essential for maintaining healthy skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. It is particularly important for preventing conditions like dry and itchy eyes, cracked lips, and skin disorders .
Red Blood Cell Formation: Riboflavin is involved in the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. A deficiency in riboflavin can lead to anaemia, characterised by fatigue and weakness .
Recommendations for Safe Consumption
Primary dietary sources of riboflavin include: dairy products, meat and poultry, fish, eggs, leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds, and fortified foods.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for riboflavin varies by age, sex, and life stage. Here are the RDAs for riboflavin according to the New Zealand Ministry of Health (MoH) .
Riboflavin is generally safe when consumed in recommended amounts from food sources. There is no established upper-intake level (UL) for riboflavin, as excess riboflavin is excreted in the urine. The only adverse effects of large doses are a potential increase in photosensitivity to UV radiation . It's essential to obtain riboflavin from a balanced diet rather than relying on supplements unless advised by a healthcare professional. If you have specific dietary restrictions or concerns about your riboflavin intake, consult a registered dietitian or healthcare provider for personalised guidance.
Powers HJ. Riboflavin (vitamin B-2) and health. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [Internet]. 2003 Jun 1 [cited 2019 Nov 6];77(6):1352–60. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/77/6/1352/4689829
Olfat N, Ashoori M, Saedisomeolia A. Riboflavin is an antioxidant: a review update. British Journal of Nutrition [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 25];128(10):1–9. Available from: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/abs/riboflavin-is-an-antioxidant-a-review-update/6434B395E5D41953FDF975198679FF59
Mahabadi N, Bhusal A, Banks SW. Riboflavin Deficiency [Internet]. PubMed. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470460/#:~:text=Research%20has%20shown%20that%20riboflavin
Ministry of Health NZ. Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand [Internet]. Govt.nz. 2011. Available from: https://www.moh.govt.nz/NoteBook/nbbooks.nsf/0/FD14C5E898B74265CC2574BE007DACF6/
We do our best to source robust information from a number of credible sources. There is, however, a large amount of information on various aspects of nutritional elements along with claims in terms of their contribution to helping in body health which may contradict the above.