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Benefits of Riboflavin

 Benefits of Riboflavin

 Benefits of Riboflavin : For growth of the body and to maintain a healthy life, vitamins have a crucial role. They are required in small amounts and are usually found in our regular diets. All vitamins are existing either in water soluble or fat soluble forms. Water-soluble vitamins are flowing through the bloodstream and the wasted things pass out of the body through urine. Riboflavin, also called vitamin B2 is a water-soluble vitamin, so it easily dissolves in water.

Riboflavin is one of eight B vitamins that are really essential for conducting a healthy life. In grains, plants and dairy products, we can found it. It breaks down food components, absorbs other essential nutrients and maintains tissues.

Primarily it was called as lactochrome or lactoflavin. Riboflavin has a very much important role in energy production, enzyme function and synthesis of fatty acid and amino acid. Furthermore, it also works as an antioxidant and is necessary for glutathione production that is a free radical scavenger. It is also important for normal development, reproduction, growth, lactation and physical performance of the complete body, which are very much essential for a beautiful and healthy life.

This vitamin is a major component of two essential coenzymes, flavin mononucleotide (FMN; also called as riboflavin-5’-phosphate) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD). For the production of energy, these two coenzymes have significant roles. Along with energy production, they are also important for cellular function, growth and development and metabolism of fats, drugs, and steroids. FAD is also helping in the conversion of the amino acids tryptophan to niacin. Similarly, FMN is needed for the conversion of vitamin B6 to the coenzyme pyridoxal 5’-phosphate. Riboflavin also helps to maintain normal levels of homocysteine, one type of amino acid present in the blood.

More than 90% of dietary riboflavin exist in the form of FAD or FMN. And the remaining 10% is comprised of the free-form and glycosides or esters. Most riboflavin is absorbed in the small intestine. Our body absorbs a little amount of riboflavin from single doses and stores only little amounts of riboflavin in the liver, heart, and kidneys. If we consume excess amount, then either they are not be absorbed or excreted through urine.

Colour wise, it is yellow in colour and naturally fluorescent to ultraviolet light. But UV rays and visible light can inactivate riboflavin and its derivatives quickly. Usually lengthy light therapy, laser light therapy are utilized to treat jaundice or any skin dis order. And this lead to riboflavin deficiency. The probability of loss of riboflavin to light is the reason why milk is not stored in glass containers.

Importance of Diet

It is found in numerous foods such as milk and dairy products, fish, meats, green veggies, whole grain, cereals, and bread. Since fresh fruits and vegetables contain most of the vitamins, it is best to eat them as many as possible. Food processing can destroy some of the vitamins. Little riboflavin can be lost in ordinary cooking. Since it is water soluble and about twice as much its content is lost in cooking water when foods are boiled as when they are prepared in other ways, such as by steaming or microwaving. Along with vitamins, proteins, minerals, carbohydrates, and fat are also essential to provide energy.

Sources of Riboflavin


Eggs, organ meats (kidneys and liver), lean meats and milk, all these products are rich in riboflavin. Green vegetables, grains, cereals, all are fortified with it.  Milk or milk drinks, bread or bread products, mixed foods whose main ingredient is meat, ready-to-eat cereals and mixed foods whose main ingredient t is grain all these have the largest dietary contribution to riboflavin. In most of the foods, it exists in the form of     FAD, although the main form of eggs and milk is free from it. Near about 95% of riboflavin exist in the form of FAD or FMN from food i.e. available up to a maximum limit of about 27 mg per meal or dose.

Dietary Supplements

It is available in various dietary supplements. Multivitamins supplements with riboflavin commonly provide 1.7 mg only. Its supplements or B-Complex vitamins are also available in the medical store. You can easily get that. But in most supplements, it is available in free form.


  • For the overall growth and good health of our body, riboflavin is required. It breaks down carbohydrates, proteins, fats and produces energy. It also allows the body to use oxygen.
  • It is also helpful for smoothing skin, the lining of the digestive tract, generation of blood cells and the development of other important organs.
  • For developing eye health, it is very much essential. As per the University of Michigan, this vitamin is needed to protect glutathione, an important antioxidant present inside the eye. According to The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), eating riboflavin-rich foods lower cataract risk. You can take supplements of riboflavin or niacin to reduce cataract.
  • Certain vitamin levels, chemicals, and minerals levels present in the blood also dependent on the level of riboflavin present in the body. Such as it changes vitamin B6 and folate (vitamin B9) into forms that can be utilized by our body. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it has a very important role in processing iron inside our body. Without it, the body may suffer from anemia. Homocysteine level in the blood also reduced by 26 to 40 percent by the level of riboflavin.
  • During the pregnancy period, it has a significant role. According to a study held in University Women’s Hospital, Heidelberg, Germany, it showed that riboflavin deficiency may be a crucial factor in causing preeclampsia, a condition that causes high blood pressure in late pregnancy.
  • Taking doses of riboflavin also help to reduce a migraine. As per the study held in the department of neurology of the Humboldt University of Berlin found that high doses of it help in reducing migraine.

Riboflavin Deficiency

Riboflavin deficiency is rare to find because it is available in our diet only and the requirement of it is very less. But still, causes of its deficiency can include endocrine abnormalities (such as thyroid hormone deficiency) and some diseases. It is also known as ariboflavinosis. This deficiency includes skin disorder, hyperemia (excess blood) and adema of the mouth and throat, angular stomatitis (white patches at the corners of the mouth), cheilosis (swollen, cracked lips), hair loss, reproductive problems, itchy and red eyes and degeneration of the liver and nervous system.

Individuals suffered from riboflavin deficiency also deficient in other nutrients also. Its deficiency can impair the metabolism of other nutrients, especially other B vitamins. If its deficiency continues for a longer duration then there may be chances of occurrence of severe anemia and cataract.

Groups at Risk of Riboflavin Inadequacy

The following group of individuals has mostly insufficiency of riboflavin.

Vegan athletes

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dieticians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine, it is found that vegetarian athletes have a high risk of riboflavin deficiency because exercises produce stress in the metabolic pathways that use riboflavin and because of their increased demand for this nutrient. Due to the reason of excluding all animal products (including milk, yogurt, cheese, and eggs) which provide a good source of riboflavin, vegan athletes often face this deficiency. That’s why vegetarian athletes should consult with a dietician to avoid these problems.

Pregnant and lactating women and their infants

Those pregnant or lactating women, who consume fewer meats or dairy products are at high risk of riboflavin deficiency, which affects a lot to pregnant women and infants. During these days there is a high chance of having preeclampsia.

So, during pregnancy riboflavin intakes have a positive effect on the infant birth weight and length. Those mothers having a lower intake (less than 1.2 mg/day), have a higher risk of deficiency and certain birth defects (such as outflow tract defects of the heart). In well-nourished women, the concentration of it in breast milk range from 180- 800 mcg/L and it increases over time. So it is essential for pregnant and lactating women not to be riboflavin deficient.

People who are vegan and/or consume little milk

Vegan people who prefer a vegetarian diet or follow some restrictions on non-veg or dairy products usually suffered from riboflavin deficiency.  Because veg products only provide a substantial amount of it.

People with infantile Brown-Vialetto-Van Laere syndrome

Individuals suffering from Infantile Brown-Vialetto-Van Laere syndrome, which is a very rare neurological disorder that can begin at any age and it leads to deafness, bulbar palsy (a motor-neuron disease), and respiratory difficulties. This disease is caused by mutations in the SLC52A3 gene, which encodes the intestinal riboflavin transporter. As a result, these patients have a deficiency. Riboflavin supplementation can be very much essential for these patients.

Riboflavin and Health

This section concentrates on two health conditions basically in which riboflavin play a crucial role: migraine headaches and cancer

Migraine headaches

In migraine headaches, an individual feel intense pulsing or throbbing pain in a particular area of the head. Sometimes these headaches accompanied by aura, which is a transient focal neurological symptom before or during a headache. In some type of a migraine, mitochondrial dysfunction plays a special role. Because riboflavin is necessary for mitochondrial function. So, to treat the migraine headache it is really essential.

To find the beneficial effect of riboflavin, some studies had conducted. In a trial of 55 adults, who have migraine problem having riboflavin 400 mg per day reduced the frequency of migraine attacks by two percent compared to placebo. In another study, 41 children (about 13 years of age) took riboflavin for 3-6 months, 200 or 400 mg/day reduced the frequency of migraine headaches during treatment. The beneficial effect of these studies lasts for more than 1.5 years. However, two small studies in children showed that 50-200 mg per day riboflavin didn’t decrease the severity of a migraine as compared to placebo.

The Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Headache Society and the American Academy of Neurology demonstrated that preventing headaches riboflavin is probably effective. For the prevention of this attack, the Canadian Headache Society recommends 400 mg/day, noting that although the evidence supporting this recommendation is of low quality, there is some evidence for benefit and side effects (such as discoloured urine) which are minimal side effects.

Cancer prevention

Many studies proved that riboflavin help to prevent the DNA damage caused by various carcinogens which are acting as a coenzyme with different cytochrome P450 enzymes.

Some studies had observed and produced conflicting results on the relationship between riboflavin and cancer risk. There was a study followed 41,514 current, former and never smokers in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study for 15 years. The average intake of riboflavin is 2.5 mg per day. They have found an inverse result from this study.

An analysis was conducted on 88,045 postmenopausal women in Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study and it showed that the total riboflavin intake from both foods and supplements have a lower risk of colorectal cancer. Another study conducted between 2349 cancer patients and 4168 individuals without cancer participating in the Netherlands Cohort Study on diet and cancer for 13 years and in this study, it was found that there is no association between riboflavin and risk of colon cancer among women. Further many studied had held including clinical trials, which are required to clarify the relationship between individuals taking riboflavin and different types of cancer and determine whether riboflavin supplements can reduce cancer risk.

Excessive Riboflavin side effects

From many foods intakes of riboflavin have no observable toxicity, since the solubility capacity of riboflavin to be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. Because of the adverse effects from high intakes from foods or supplements (400 mg/day for regular 3 months), the FNB didn’t establish Uls for it. The FNB encourages people to be very much cautious about consuming the excess of riboflavin.

Riboflavin and Healthful Diets

Dietary Guidelines for Americans of the federal government in 2015-20120 notes that “Nutritional requirements of the body should be met primarily from foods”. The essential vitamins and minerals exist in the food have positive health effects and among those essential vitamins riboflavin is one, which you want little but can’t ignore at all.

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