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Vitamin B2

Also indexed as: Riboflavin

Illustration

Vitamin B2 is a water-soluble vitamin needed to process amino acids and fats, activate vitamin B6 and folic acid, and help convert carbohydrates into the fuel the body runs on—adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Under some conditions, vitamin B2 can act as an antioxidant.

Where is it found?

Dairy products, eggs, and meat contain significant amounts of vitamin B2. Leafy green vegetables, whole grains, and enriched grains contain some vitamin B2.

Vitamin B2 has been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information):

Science Ratings Health Concerns
3Stars

Anemia (if deficient)

Migraine headaches

2Stars

Canker sores

Cataracts

High homocysteine (for people with a specific genetic makeup)

Parkinson’s disease

1Star

Preeclampsia

Sickle cell anemia

3Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

Who is likely to be deficient?

Vitamin B2 deficiency can occur in alcoholics. Also, a deficiency may be more likely in people with cataracts1 2 or sickle cell anemia.3 In developing countries, vitamin B2 deficiency has been found to be a risk factor for the development of preeclampsia in pregnant women.4 People with chronic fatigue syndrome may be deficient in vitamin B2.5

How much is usually taken?

The ideal level of intake is not known. The amounts found in many multivitamin supplements (20–25 mg) are more than adequate for most people.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

At supplemental and dietary levels, vitamin B2 is nontoxic.

Vitamin B2 works with vitamin B1, vitamin B3, and vitamin B6. For that reason, vitamin B2 is often taken as part of a B-complex supplement.

Are there any drug interactions?
Certain medicines may interact with vitamin B2. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.

References:

1. Bhat KS. Nutritional status of thiamine, riboflavin and pyridoxine in cataract patients. Nutr Rep Int 1987;36:685–92.

2. Prchal JT, Conrad ME, Skalka HW. Association of presenile cataracts with heterozygosity for galactosaemic states and with riboflavin deficiency. Lancet 1978;1:12–3.

3. Varma RN, Mankad VN, Phelps DD, et al. Depressed erythrocyte glutathione reductase activity in sickle cell disease. Am J Clin Nutr 1983;38:884–7.

4. Wacker J, Fruhauf J, Schulz M, et al. Riboflavin deficiency and preeclampsia. Obstet Gynecol 2000;96:38–44.

5. Heap LC, Peters TJ, Wessely S. Vitamin B status in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. J R Soc Med 1999;92:183–5.

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