Today we’re focusing on vitamin B2 – what it is, where you can find it in your daily diet, the effects it has on your body, and what happens if you have too much or too little. To read more of our Vitamin ABCS, click here to read the full series so far.
What is vitamin B2?
You may have heard of vitamin B2 more commonly referred to as riboflavin. This vitamin can help to keep your eyes, skin and nervous system healthy and in good working order, and it also enables the body to release energy from food. Like vitamin B1, riboflavin is only stored in small amounts in the human body and therefore we need to constantly resupply it daily in order to get the benefits associated with the correct levels.
Where to find vitamin B2
Riboflavin can easily be found in a healthy diet. The food sources that are most rich in this important vitamin include:
- Meat, including beef, poultry, kidney and liver
- Wholegrain and enriched breads
- Green leafy vegetables
- Legumes and beans
- Sweet potatoes
- Fortified cereals
- Asparagus, avocado, artichokes, mushrooms and pumpkins
Vitamin B2 may also be taken as a supplement by mouth in order to prevent riboflavin deficiency that may be causes by different types of cancer or other conditions.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that as riboflavin is water soluble, cooking foods by boiling, steaming or microwave can cause the majority of vitamin B2 to be lost.
What levels to aim for
The recommended daily allowance of riboflavin in healthy adults is 1.3 milligrams per day for men and 1.1 milligrams per day for women. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, women need a small amount more riboflavin: 1.4mg and 1.6mg per day respectively.
In adults with a normal diet, vitamin B2 deficiency is not common, however conditions such as cancer can cause low levels, and other conditions may require you to take an additional supplement, such as migraines.
The signs of riboflavin deficiency include:
- Sore and cracked lips
- Sore throat
- Mood changes
- Nerve damage
- Inflamed mouth and tongue
Due to being a water soluble vitamin, riboflavin is carried in the bloodstream and, as such, any additional vitamin B2 that is not required in the body is passed out in the urine. This means that overdose is very unlikely.
Effects on the body
Riboflavin is a crucial vitamin to maintaining normal bodily function and has huge benefits towards your health. The below are just a few examples of how vitamin B2 can positively affect your body:
- It has mild anti-inflammatory properties.
- It can prevent cognitive decline.
- It helps prevent cardiovascular disease.
- Proper levels can protect bones.
- Increased intake can decrease symptoms of depression.
- Supplements can aid with pregnancy.
- It helps with general eye health.
Vitamin B2 can be very helpful for those with the following conditions:
- Blood diseases such as congenital methemoglobinemia or red blood cell aplasia
- Muscle cramps
- Carpal tunnel
- Eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma and eye fatigue
- Burning feet syndrome
- Multiple sclerosis
It is also used for:
- Maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails
- Slowing aging
- Treatment of memory loss conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
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