Riboflavin (vitamin B2): Functions, Sources & Deficiency

Riboflavin is a yellow-orange solid substance with poor solubility in water as compared to other B vitamins.

Riboflavin also called Vitamin B2, is an important vitamin that also acts as an antioxidant within the body and  helps prevent a number of health problems including Vitamin B2 deficiency.

Vitamin B2 helps break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It also plays a vital role in maintaining the body’s energy supply, and helps in keeping the eyes, skin and the nervous system healthy.



Here are some very important functions that vitamin B2 (riboflavin) plays in the body.

  • Essential for the production of energy in the body to support metabolic processes.
  • Useful for the normal metabolism of iron in the body.
  • Helps in the maintenance of normal skin and mucous membranes.
  • It is essential in the maintenance of normal red blood cells.
  • Plays a role in the maintenance of normal vision.
  • It is useful in the protection of cell constituents from oxidative damage.
  • Supports the maintenance of the normal function of the nervous system.
  • Helps in the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.




Good sources 

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) can be found in most plant and animal products in considerable amounts. Our body forms but does not store riboflavin, so it is a required addition to our everyday diet. Some good sources of riboflavin are; 

  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Liver 
  • Beef
  • Kidneys
  • Mushrooms 
  • Legumes
  • Broccoli 
  • Spinach 
  • Rice
  • Fortified cereal
  • Wheat bread
  • Cheddar cheese 
  • Salmon 
  • Almonds 


Riboflavin can be easily destroyed by exposure to bright light, so its important to keep these foods out of direct sunlight.




Riboflavin deficiency is also known as ariboflavinosis, a condition caused by a number of factors other than reduced levels in diet.

The body excretes vitamin B2 continuously through the urine, which makes it impossible to store the excess. Because riboflavin work with other known vitamins of the B group, a person who has a B2 deficiency would lack other vitamins too.

Ariboflavinosis occurs either when the intake of riboflavin is poor or because the intestines cannot absorb the vitamin properly, or the body cannot use it, or because it is being excreted too rapidly

Symptoms of riboflavin deficiency include;

  • Fatigue 
  • Weakness
  • Sore throat 
  • Swollen tongue
  • Skin cracking
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Iron-deficiency anemia
  • Eyes may be sensitive to bright light, and they may be itchy, watery, or bloodshot.



Who is at risk?

Factors that increases your risk of riboflavin deficiency are;

  • Old age
  • Chronic ill health 
  • Chronic alcoholism
  • Liver disorders
  • Kidney dialysis
  • Women dieting on birth control pills.




As a supplement, riboflavin is used to prevent and treat riboflavin deficiency and prevent migraines. It may be given by mouth or injection.

The most common forms of riboflavin supplements are riboflavin and riboflavin 5′-monophosphate.

It is most commonly found in multivitamin and vitamin B-complex preparations.




There are no known evidence for riboflavin toxicity when taken in excess, this is because riboflavin has a much lower solubility to water than other B vitamins, which makes absorption less efficient as doses increase, and the excess excreted through the kidneys into urine.

However one should avoid overdosing on riboflavin as it may change the color of your urine bright yellow.





How useful was this post?

5 / 5. 2

Related posts