What is Riboflavin?

Riboflavin (E101), also known as vitamin B2, is a water-soluble, which means it is not stored in the body. You must replenish the vitamin every day. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) works with the other B vitamins. It is important for body growth and red blood cell production and helps in releasing energy from carbohydrates. It is involved in vital metabolic processes in the body and is present in small amounts of in most animal and plant tissues.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 1.3 mg for adults, and this is sometimes referred to as the Daily Allowance or Daily Value. Pregnant women should consume 1.4 mg and breastfeeding women 1.6 mg.


Riboflavin is helpful for maintaining the skin, nails, eyes, mouths, lips and tongue. It is important for normal vision and to prevent cataracts.

Riboflavin is often used as a tracer of medication compliance in the treatment of patients with alcohol dependence, mental disorders, and other conditions. Urinary riboflavin levels may be measured in order to determine level of compliance.

Riboflavin is also thought to decrease the duration and frequency of migraine headaches in some people.


Lean meats, eggs, legumes, nuts, green leafy vegetables, dairy products, and milk provide riboflavin in the diet. Breads and cereals are often fortified with riboflavin. The best dietary sources of riboflavin are brewer’s yeast. Other good food sources of riboflavin, such are liver, mushrooms, venison, yogurt, soybeans and spinach.


A deficiency of riboflavin can be primary – poor vitamin sources in one’s daily diet – or secondary, which may be a result of conditions that affect absorption in the intestine, the body not being able to use the vitamin, or an increase in the excretion of the vitamin from the body.

Riboflavin deficiency is classically associated with the oral-ocular-genital syndrome. Angular cheilitis, photophobia, and scrotal dermatitis are the classic remembered signs. A riboflavin deficiency can also result in skin lesions, light sensitivity, eye disorders, an inflamed mouth or tongue, and cracks and sores at the mouth’s corner. Low levels of B2 have been linked with arthritis, colon cancer, heart disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease.

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