Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin
B Complex Vitamin
You may not hear about it as often as vitamin C or E, but vitamin B2 is often deficient in the American diet, and you may be hearing more about it in the years to come. Along with B1, it aids in carbohydrate and fat metabolism, and helps give us energy. It is very good for the eyes and can help prevent corneal ulcers and cataracts. It also helps protect the body from toxicity from drugs as well as chemicals in our environment, promotes healthy skin and helps with psoriasis.
Research also shows that B2 can help neutralize harmful free radicals because of its antioxidant properties. Free radicals are unbalanced molecules in your body that try to balance themselves by stealing electrons from elsewhere in your body. This taking of other electrons can cause damage, and antioxidants quench free radicals by offering an electron of their own. This helps protect other cells in your body and keep them healthier. This may help your body to reduce cholesterol buildup and prevent cancer.
Riboflavin helps many important processes in the body to take place, including helping to turn food into energy. For example, it helps B6 and Folate, other B complex vitamins, to be properly utilized in the body. B2 is also crucial in transforming amino acids into neurotransmitters, which are chemicals used in the brain and needed for proper mood, memory and cognitive skills. Riboflavin also helps the body to make red blood cells.
Extra Vitamin B2 Requirements
Along with B1, you will need more vitamin B2 if you are pregnant or nursing, use oral contraceptives or diuretics. Sulfa drugs can also cause an increased need for B2. Those with diets high in refined foods, too much sugar and junk foods and/or alcohol will also have higher requirements for riboflavin. Exercise, although good for the body in many ways, tends to deplete the body of B2 as well.
Deficiency Symptoms of Riboflavin
Some of the diseases associated with a deficiency in vitamin B2 are: hypothyroidism, severe dermatitis (skin rash), anxiety, diabetes, cataracts, drug abuse, anemia, congenital heart disease and ulcers. Riboflavin deficiency can also cause other vision problems, like blurred vision and light sensitivity, and cracks and redness in the corners of the mouth as well as on the tongue. A deficiency of B2 is often seen at the same time as other B vitamin deficiencies, another reason to not just add more B2 to your diet, but all the B Complex vitamins.
Food Sources of Vitamin B2
Synthetic vitamin B2 is added to white flour and cereals, but synthetic vitamins cannot hope to have the same effects on the body as the whole food nutrient complex. Food sources of B2 include nutritional yeast, whole grains like whole wheat and wild rice, asparagus and broccoli, leafy greens like spinach and turnip greens, yogurt and milk (especially fresh, raw milk), cheeses, liver and kidney, mushrooms and eggs.
NOTE: Some studies have shown that people who do not consume dairy and meats tend to have a higher risk of a B2 deficiency. Even those who simply do not consume milk tend to have lower levels of Riboflavin.