The Vitamin Breakdown! – Vitamin B2

Welcome back to the vitamin breakdown! This series aims to break down the vitamin alphabet into short sharp posts telling you why to get what and where to get it from. 

Today’s post is continuing with the B vitamins, with the focus today going on vitamin B2. Vitamin B2 is also known as Riboflavin, ( and when written for those there science folk, vitamin B2). As with most vitamins you will find Riboflavin is found in food and used as a dietary supplement.

Vitamin B2 is a water-soluble vitamin. We explored the difference between fat and water soluble vitamins in the previous two posts in the vitamin breakdown, so I won’t go into to much detail here. Water-soluble vitamins are carried through the bloodstream, and whatever is not needed passes out of the body in urine. What is important though is as water soluble vitamins are not stored by the body, you need a daily intake of them. 

Riboflavin is an essential vitamin meaning the body doesn’t create it and needs it from the foods we eat, preferably on a daily basis! Riboflavin takes on one of two chemical forms in the body; flavin adenine dinucleotide, also called FAD, and flavin mononucleotide, also called FMN. 


All B vitamins are used to help digest and extract energy from the foods you eat; they do this by converting nutrients from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into useable energy. 

Like its fellow other B vitamins, Riboflavin plays a significant role in the production of energy. 
Alongside vitamin B1, B2  in the form of FAD, acts as a cofactor in metabolic reactions involving energy production from carbohydrates and ketone bodies, whilst also processing fats and amino acids. It helps in the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, which fuels many functions in the body. 

So as we can see, Riboflavin plays an active part in the electron transport chain that produces cellular energy. Riboflavin helps convert carbohydrates into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The human body produces ATP from food, and ATP produces energy as the body requires it. The compound ATP is vital for storing energy in muscles. 


Riboflavin also acts as a antioxidant in the body. As an antioxidant, Vitamin B2 is responsible for preventing free radical damage caused by the oxidation of cells in the body. This in turn acts to protect the skin and eyes, as well as the development of a number of health conditions, such as heart disease and cancer.

Riboflavin doesn’t stop there on its quest for nutritional superiority mind you. It helps in the maintaining of healthy blood cells and facilitating a healthy metabolism. It can be particularly important for helping your body metabolise medication for instance. Some research is even suggesting that it may help prevent cataracts and migraine headaches, even though further studies are needed to confirm this.

Riboflavin is also needed to help the body change vitamin B6 and folate into forms it can use. It is also important for growth and red blood cell production. This is particularly significant for pregnant women and it’s an essential in the diet for healthy fetas development. Alongside other B vitamins it’s also important for hormonal function, nerve and heart health, and reducing inflammation. 


Additional supplementation appears to be fairly uncommon due to its presence in a lot of foods. A Vitamin B2 deficiency however can happen due to numerous factors, such as over-dieting, abusing alcohol, liver disorders, and kidney dialysis. The elderly, the chronically ill and alcoholics are groups who may be especially susceptible to riboflavin deficiency. 

Women who take birth control pills may also benefit from supplementation – the body’s ability to absorb riboflavin is believed to be reduced when taking birth control pills. 

Riboflavin deficiency is particularly widespread among alcoholics because chronic alcohol abuse lowers the quantity of Vitamin B2 (and other nutrients such as Vitamin B1) that is absorbed by the body. 

As a supplement vitamin B2 is used to prevent and treat riboflavin deficiency and prevent migraines. It may be given by mouth or injection.

Signs of a Vitamin B2 deficiency can include:

– Anemia

– Fatigue

– Nerve damage

– A sluggish metabolism

– Mouth or lip sores or cracks

– Skin inflammation and skin disorders, especially around the nose and face

– Inflamed mouth and tongue

– Sore throat

– Swelling of mucus membranes

– Changes in mood, such as increased anxiety and signs of depression

Recommend Daily Allowance

The NHS states the amount of riboflavin adults (19-64 years) need is about:

1.3mg a day for men 

1.1mg a day for women

This can pretty much exclusively be taken from food sources. 

Food Sources

Vitamin B2 can be found in various food sources, though usually in negligible quantities. The most important sources of riboflavin are dairy products, brewer’s yeast, and liver. Other veggie sources include , lean meats, mushrooms, broccoli, and avocados. 

Here’s your definitive collection of vitamin B2 foods;

– Fish, meat, and poultry, such as turkey, chicken, beef, kidneys, and liver

– Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, eel and herring 

– Shellfish and oysters

– Eggs

– Dairy products

– Asparagus

– Artichokes

– Avocados

– Cayenne

– Currants

– Fortified cereals

– Kelp

– Lima beans, navy beans, and peas, dry-roasted soybeans, edamame

– Millet 

– Molasses

– Mushrooms

– Nuts and sunflower seeds

– Parsley

– Pumpkins

– Rosehips

– Sage

– Sweet potatoes

– Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, dandelion greens, and watercress

– Whole-grain breads, enriched breads, and wheat bran

– Wild rice 

– Yeast extract such as brewer’s yeast 
Cabbage, carrots, apples, figs, and berries have a comparatively low level of vitamin B2. Fortunately, vitamin B2 is not lost during cooking, unlike many other vitamins. However, it is destroyed by strong light and baking soda

Alrighty, well once again, thanks for sticking with it and thanks for reading! Till next time.

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