Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

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Vitamin B2 plays an essential role in the metabolic system that produces energy from carbohydrates and fats. It is also a co-factor for reactions that convert other vitamins to active forms.

Certain enzymes that act as antioxidants depend on vitamin B2, and this vitamin is critical to iron utilization in the body.

Recommended Dietary Allowances for Vitamin B2

vitamin-b2-riboflavinSource: Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies

Which Foods Have Vitamin B2?

Beef liver
Wheat germ
Chicken liver
Wheat flour, enriched
Yogurt
Soy beans
Ricotta cheese
Milk
Cottage cheese
Spinach
Beet greens
Tomato sauce
Beef
Bison
Chicken
Pork
Turkey
Mushrooms, raw
Eggs
Lamb
Cornmeal
Black eyed peas
Barley


Most ready-to-eat cereals are fortified with B2. Enriched wheat flour has added B2, so foods made with that flour, like breads, are also good sources.

What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Vitamin B2?

Edamame SaladSince vitamin B2 works together with other B vitamins, deficiency symptoms can be similar to those of other B vitamin deficiencies.

These symptoms include cracks and sores around the lips and at the corners of the mouth, inflamed red tongue, scaly skin rashes, anemia and sore throat. With the type of anemia associated with B2 deficiency, red blood cells still have normal amounts of hemoglobin, but the number of cells is reduced.

When someone is deficient in both iron and B2, consumption of more B2 will enhance the effect of additional iron.

Deficiency can be caused by poor intake, and also by medical conditions. Thyroid and adrenal insufficiency can adversely affect metabolism of B2. Alcoholics typically have decreased intake combined with decreased absorption. People who avoid dairy products may not consume enough.

Research suggests that many elderly people may not consume enough vitamin B2. Evidence suggests that poor B2 intake and lower blood levels are associated with increased incidence of age-related cataracts. Some experts believe the recommended intake for elderly people should be boosted slightly.

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