What Is Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) and What Does It Do?

What Is Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) and What Does It Do?
18.12.2023

Vitamin B2 supports your growth and development, including helping your body create energy from the food you eat. Symptoms of a deficiency may include skin disorders and hair loss.

Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is naturally present in some foods. It’s present in other foods in synthetic form and available as a dietary supplement. Most people get enough vitamin B2 from their diet, but it’s still possible to develop a deficiency, especially for people who do not consume dairy products like milk.

Keep reading to learn what this vitamin does, the recommended intakes, and the symptoms of a vitamin B2 deficiency.

What does vitamin B2 (riboflavin) do?

Vitamin B2 and other B vitamins help your body build red blood cells and support other cellular functions that give you energy. You’ll get the most out of the B vitamins if you take supplements or eat foods that contain all of them.

Vitamin B2 helps support:

  • your growth and development
  • energy production, including the breakdown of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into energy
  • cellular function

You may have experienced an energy boost from taking supplements containing B vitamins, but this hasn’t yet been proven through research.

What are the symptoms of vitamin B2 deficiency?

Riboflavin deficiency is rare in places where people have access to fresh foods or supplemental vitamins. But athletes who follow a vegan diet or a vegetarian diet maybe more likely to have a deficiency in B vitamins and may need to take supplements to get the recommended amounts.

The symptoms of a vitamin B2 deficiency can include:

  • anemia
  • swollen throat or tongue
  • cataracts
  • skin issues, including itching and cracking

People with a riboflavin deficiency may also have other nutritional deficiencies. This can include anemia, which happens when you don’t get enough iron.

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If you’re pregnant, a riboflavin deficiency could endanger your baby’s growth and increase your chances of preeclampsia, which involves dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy. This is a serious condition that can lead to eclampsia, which may be life threatening.

Talk with your doctor if you’re experiencing the symptoms of riboflavin deficiency. Some factors can increase your risk, including:

  • riboflavin transporter deficiency
  • pregnancy
  • lactation
  • following a vegan diet
  • being an athlete while following a vegetarian diet

Food sources

Eating a balanced, nutritious diet can help you get enough vitamin B2 and other B vitamins.

Food sources of vitamin B2 include:

  • dairy products, such as milk, cottage cheese, and yogurt
  • fortified oats and breakfast cereals
  • egg yolks
  • red meat, such as beef and beef liver
  • salmon
  • cod
  • chicken
  • almonds
  • some grains, such as quinoa

Vitamin B2 is sensitive to light and perishable, however.

Riboflavin is often a supplement in cereal and bread, and it can be present as food coloring. If you’ve ever consumed a lot of B vitamins, you might have noticed a dark yellow tinge in your urine. This color comes from the riboflavin.

Takeaway

Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is necessary for essential body functions that support your growth, development, and energy production.

Many people get enough through their diet. However some people, including athletes following vegetarian diets and people following vegan diets, may need to use supplements to get the daily recommended intake.

If you don’t get enough riboflavin or other B vitamins from your diet, B-complex supplements may help.

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