Vitamin B2 (also called riboflavin) is one of eight ‘B’ vitamins. Vitamin B2 plays a role in helping our bodies convert food into fuel to meet our energy needs.
All B vitamins are important for keeping the skin, hair, eyes, nervous system and liver healthy but vitamin B2 plays a special role as an antioxidant to fight free radicals. Free radicals are particles that damage DNA and are thought to contribute to the development of diseases such as cancer.
Where do I find vitamin B2?
- Vitamin B2 is water-soluble which means the body cannot store it so you need to get your daily allowance through eating a balanced diet.
- Dietary sources include: dairy products, fortified cereals, buckwheat, meats, liver, dark greens, fish and poultry.
- Riboflavin is easily destroyed by exposure to light so it’s best to buy milk in paper cartons rather than transparent bottles.
- Vitamin B2 can also be obtained from dietary supplements.
- The daily recommended amount is: 1.3mg a day for men, and 1.1mg for women.
Why do I need vitamin B2?
The antioxidant properties of riboflavin (B2) may make it important in the prevention of diseases such as cancer.
Vitamin B2 is also needed to help the body convert other B vitamins into forms that make them useful for the body.
In addition, vitamin B2 plays a role in red blood cell production and body growth and helps convert foods into energy.
How will I know if I am lacking in vitamin B2?
If your diet is poor then you may become riboflavin deficient. People who lack vitamin B2 in their diet risk slower growth, digestive problems and fatigue.
Cracks and sores around the mouth may be a sign of a deficiency. Other symptoms include tired eyes and blurred vision, a swollen tongue, swelling and soreness of the throat and light sensitivity.
Riboflavin deficiency is more common in elderly people, those with certain illnesses and in alcoholics. Some birth control pills may also reduce the body’s ability to absorb riboflavin making supplements beneficial.
Can vitamin B2 ever be harmful?
Because riboflavin is excreted through the urine (so cannot be stored by the body) an overdose is unlikely. If you do take in too much you may find your urine turns bright yellow. Extremely high amounts of riboflavin have been associated with an increased risk of kidney stones.