Vitamin B2 ( Riboflavin) : Benefits, Deficiency And Food Sources.

Riboflavin is a water soluble vitamin required by the body to maintain good health. It is primarily essential for proper metabolism and digestion in the body. Riboflavin is also essential to promote the activity of other B complex vitamins like vitamin B3 and vitamin B6. All the B vitamins, including riboflavin, are necessary for the growth and functioning of cells. Riboflavin also functions as an antioxidant. It aids in the processing of fats and amino acids in the body. This vitamin helps in prevention of skin lesions, and hence, a deficiency of it can lead to cracked lips and dull skin. As it is essential to carry out several functions in the body, one should include riboflavin foods in the diet regularly.

Highest concentrations of Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin in the body occur in the liver, kidneys, and heart. Basically, Riboflavin is non-toxic as there is no documentation of toxicity symptoms for Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin so far.

Vitamin B2 or riboflavin is important for body growth, reproduction and red cell production. It also helps in releasing energy from carbohydrates:

Fruit sources : (Apricots,  Apple, Avocado,  Banana, Blueberries, Cherimoya,  Custard apple, Dates,  Grapes,  Grapefruits,  Lemon,  Lychee, Mango,  Mulberries,  Papaya, Passion Fruit,  Pomegranate,  Prickly Pear, Prunes, Raisins)

Vegetable sources : (Amaranth Leaves, Artichoke, Asparagus, Beets, Broccoli, Bok Choy,  Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage,  Carrot,  Chinese Broccoli, Collards,  Dandelion, French Beans, Lettuce,  Lima Beans, Mushrooms, Okra, Peas, Pumpkin, Spinach,  Spirulina, Squash – winter, Sweet Potato, Swiss Chard, Turnip greens, Watercress)

Nut/Grain sources : (Amonds,  Buckwheat, Cashew,  Chestnuts,  Pistachio, Pumpkin seed, Oats,  Quinoa,  Rye, Soy nuts,  Sunflower seeds,  Walnuts, Wheat – Durum,  Wheat – Hard Red, Wheat – Hard White)

Legume sources : ( Adzuki Beans,  Fava Beans,  Edamame,  Garbanzo Beans, Mung Beans, Navy Beans, Pinto Beans,  Soy Beans, Winged Beans.

Riboflavin Benefits:  Health Benefits of Riboflavin or Vitamin B2

  • Riboflavin or Vitamin B2 is important and essential for energy production. Along with Riboflavin, Vitamin B1 also plays important role in energy production. While producing energy Riboflavin converts to flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) or flavin mononucleotide (FMN). After converted to these form, Riboflavin can attach to protein enzymes and allow oxygen-based energy production to occur.
  •  Riboflavin strengthens the immune system and maintains healthy digestive tracts. It also promotes the immunity and protects the body from infections and diseases. Inadequate amount of Riboflavin in the body increases the levels of homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine increases the risk of heart attack, damages blood vessels and raises blood clotting.
  • Glutathione is an enzyme in the body that is a powerful scavenger of free radicals. Like any other antioxidant molecules Glutathione also needs to be recycled. Riboflavin helps to allow this recycling to happen properly.
  • Another important role that Riboflavin or Vitamin B2 plays is that it helps to maintain supply of Vitamin B3 or Niacin. Tryptophan is the precursor of niacin and body converts Tryptophan into Niacin. This process in done with the help of Riboflavin and kynurenine mono-oxygenase (an enzyme belongs to the family of oxidoreductases).
  • Riboflavin is also helpful in the absorption of other minerals vitamins such as iron, folic acid and other vitamins. It also good for protecting nervous system and regulating thyroid activity. Riboflavin is important for the growth of body tissues such as eyes, mucous membranes, skin, hair and nails. It is also essential for the formation of red blood cells.
  • Riboflavin or Vitamin B2 plays an important role in the treatment of anaemia, cataracts, migraine, rosacea and vaginitis.
Riboflavin Deficiency: Deficiency Symptoms of Riboflavin or Vitamin B2

Riboflavin or Vitamin B2 can be found in variety of foods and a balanced diet is good enough to get right amount of Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin. But in the case of Riboflavin deficiency, it can lead to eye problems like lack of clear vision, burning and itching sensation in and around the eyes and sensitive to bright lights. Lack of Riboflavin can also cause sores around the lips and cracking of the skin at the corners of the mouth. Low blood counts, dizziness, hair loss and poor digestion can also be the Riboflavin deficiency symptoms. Riboflavin or Vitamin B2 deficiency can be the precursor to preeclampsia (abnormal state of pregnancy characterized by hypertension and fluid retention and albuminuria) in the pregnant women.

Riboflavin Dosage
Vitamin B2, i.e. riboflavin, is required in very little amounts. Infants and children require it in as little quantities as 0.3 – 0.9 mg per day; whereas the adult requirement of riboflavin is 1 – 1.3 mg per day. Pregnant and lactating women require slightly larger doses of riboflavin, i.e. 1.6 mg per day. As there are numerous foods with riboflavin which are easily available, it is easy to fulfill the daily requirement of this vitamin. One need not go for vitamin supplements, as much of the riboflavin is obtained from the daily diet itself. However, one should note that it is only obtained from a nutritious and balanced diet. Secondly, riboflavin deficiency is very rare as it is required in small amounts. But there have been cases of ariboflavinosis that occurs due to chronic deficiency of riboflavin. The symptoms of this disease include cracks on lips and in the corners of the mouth, scaly skin, rash, sensitivity to light, etc. On the other hand, it is not recommended to take riboflavin supplements, as the regular use of supplements can result in toxicity. As riboflavin is a water soluble vitamin, the excess is flushed out of the body. However, when taken in the form of supplements, it can result in toxicity which leads to degeneration of the muscles.

These were some riboflavin foods that should be included in the diet regularly. It is also recommended to prefer only fresh and natural foods over synthetic supplements to fulfill the daily quota of riboflavin. Lastly, it is advised for pregnant women, older people and people suffering from chronic diseases, to consult their doctor before making any dietary changes

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