Alternatively referred to as riboflavin, vitamin B2 is one of the known eight vitamin Bs.
Similar to other B vitamins, it serves many important functions, but its primary one is in generating energy in the body by converting carbohydrates into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). As the body requires it, ATP produces energy, which is then stored in the muscles.
So how do you get sufficient Vitamin B2 in your diet, what are is B2’s role in health, and what happens if you don’t have enough? Your Vitamin B2 questions answered here.
How Do I get Vitamin B2?
Since riboflavin is soluble in water, our bodies automatically release it on a daily basis. As such, the supply must be replenished daily through our diet. Examples of riboflavin-rich food sources include eggs, nuts, dairy products like milk, and meats.
For more vegetarian-friendly options, consider increasing your intake of broccoli, brewer’s yeast, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, soybeans, and green leafy vegetables like spinach. In terms of grain, choose wheat germ, whole-grain, and enriched cereals and bread.
How Do I Benefit from Eating Vitamin B2-rich Foods?
In order for our bodies to grow and keep us healthy, it is necessary to consume sufficient vitamin B2. Riboflavin aids oxygen in being utilized by the body, as well as helps digest energy-producing nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. In addition, Riboflavin aids in developing the skin so that it functions normally. In turn, this contributes to the normal lining of the digestive tract, blood cells and other vital parts of the body.
Riboflavin is also linked to eye health and can decrease the likelihood of developing cataracts since it protects a vital antioxidant in the eye known as glutathione. In fact, those prone to cataract sometimes consider taking supplements that contain both vitamin B2 and B3.
What’s more, Riboflavin is needed to process iron, vitamin B6 and vitamin B9 in order to use it, without which the body is more susceptible to succumb to conditions such as anemia. Homocysteine levels are consequently more likely to reach unhealthy levels.
Pregnant women should especially strive to keep a healthy intake of vitamin B2, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Overall, the body relies on vitamin B2 to regulate the number of vitamins, chemicals, and minerals such as folic acid, vitamins B1 and B3 that circulate through the bloodstream. Additionally, hormone production by the adrenal glands requires Riboflavin.
Other benefits of the vitamin that it shares with vitamin A is its shared role in maintaining the overall health of various body parts such as liver, eyes, skin, as well as the mucous membranes in the digestive system. Last but not least, Riboflavin is theorized to be connected to cancer prevention although little research has been done; meaning that the findings are still inconclusive.
How Much Vitamin B2 Do I Need?
Like most nutrients, it varies based on age, gender, and reproductive status. The recommended daily allowance for Riboflavin is very similar to Vitamin B1 – 1.3 milligrams (mg) every day for men and 1.1 mg for women. If you’re looking to prevent cataract, add three mg of Riboflavin to your daily intake.
Those that need to treat migraines can get up to 400 mg pumped.
Women expecting children should increase their intake to 1.4 mg per day, and to 1.6 mg per day when breastfeeding. As a general gauge, consider adding a cup of diced kale into your meals as it has 0.1 mg of vitamin B2 or a hard-boiled egg which can be eaten on its own for breakfast as it has 0.3 mg of the vitamin. If you’re looking for a richer source to get your daily fill, you can opt for a cup of whole almonds which will give you 1.4 mg of the vitamin.
What Happens if I have Vitamin B2 Deficiency?
Riboflavin deficiency is also known as ariboflavinosis, to which there are two types of Riboflavin deficiency. More commonly found is primary Riboflavin deficiency, which occurs when a person’s diet is lacking in vitamin B2, while secondary riboflavin deficiency happens for other reasons such as the small intestines struggling with proper absorption or because the body fails to use it due to overly fast excretion.
Based on research by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, early symptoms that start showing within a few days include a low red blood cell count, a sore throat, mouth or lip sores or swells and inflamed skin. People with vitamin B2 deficiency are more prone to migraines, making doses of vitamin B2 a common and effective treatment for those dealing with frequent migraines. If the deficiency is not treated, it could develop into preeclampsia or the condition of high blood pressure developing in late pregnancy.
Riboflavin is commonly found in many foods that people have easy access to, making deficiency an unlikely occurrence in developed countries. Nonetheless, certain groups are more at risk of getting vitamin B2 deficiency than others, such as the extremely underweight, people on unhealthy diets or those with celiac diseases or other digestive problems. In less developed regions, fetal development could be affected. Certain groups with unbalanced diets such as the elderly, teenagers and those dealing with alcoholism are also more likely to succumb to vitamin B2 deficiency because of a bad diet plan.
Since dairy products and meat are prominent sources of vitamin B2, those on vegan diets should be careful not to fall prey to deficiency and consume alternatives that are rich in the vitamin.
Athletes are another group in special need of the nutrient since exercise creates stress that utilizes Riboflavin. Research findings from multiple sources thus recommend that athletes consult a sports dietitian to ensure that they are consuming enough vitamin B2, for their safety and wellbeing.
What Should I Do If I Have Vitamin B2 Deficiency?
Normally, vitamin B2 deficiency is coupled with several other nutrient deficiencies, so making drastic changes to your diet is important. Taking riboflavin supplements is also an option, but it is important not to start on these supplements without first consulting a medical expert even though the vitamin is generally not toxic.
In fact, riboflavin is usually completely safe even at high doses since any excess is disposed of through urine. Nonetheless, side effects may arise from excessive consumption such as discoloration of urine to become yellow-orange in color or even diarrhea. Fortunately, vitamin B2 is usually included in multivitamins and the myriad of vitamin Bs so you are able to get plenty of nutrients all at one go.
In conclusion, Vitamin B is a pretty essential nutrient that is necessary for our bodily functions and general health! And it’s such an easy nutrient to get access to, just increase your intake of Vitamin B-rich greens and meats and you’re on the way to grade A health!
So, how do you make sure you have enough Vitamin B2 and don’t leave it to chance?
Supplements can provide the answer when your dietary intake is a little hit and miss. Our SuperGreen TONIK offers the right balance of vitamins and minerals with good amounts of greens too, in one easy to make drink – it tastes great too!