Vitamin B2

Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is a water-soluble B vitamin. The term ‘flavin’ originates from the Latin word ‘flavus’ referring to the yellow colour of this vitamin. Vitamin B2 is found in the human body primarily as an integral component of the coenzymes flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) and flavin mononucleotide (FMN) (1). Coenzymes derived from riboflavin are termed ‘flavocoenzymes’, and enzymes that use a flavocoenzyme are called ‘flavoproteins’ (2).

Health functions

Living organisms derive most of their energy from oxidation-reduction (redox) reactions, involving the transfer of electrons.

Disease risk reduction

As light-induced oxidative damage of lens proteins may lead to the development of age-related cataracts, the leading cause of visual disability in many developed countries, research has focused on the role of nutritional antioxidants.

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Things to know about Vitamin B2

  • Other applications

    There is some evidence that impaired mitochondrial oxygen metabolism in the brain may play a role in the development of migraine headaches.

  • Intake recommendations

    In 1993, the European Scientific Committee for Food set population reference intakes (PRI) for vitamin B2 (riboflavin) in milligrams (mg) per day (14)

  • Supply situation

    National nutrition surveys in European countries provide an indication of current intake of some B vitamins.

  • Deficiency

    Symptoms of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) deficiency include sore throat, redness and swelling of the lining of the mouth and throat, cracks or sores on the outsides of the lips and at the corners of the mouth, inflammation and redness of the tongue, and a moist, scaly skin inflammation.

  • Sources

    Most plant- and animal-derived foods contain at least small quantities of vitamin B2 (riboflavin). Foods with substantial amounts of riboflavin are milk, eggs, salmon, beef, spinach, asparagus, and broccoli.

  • Safety

    No toxic or adverse effects of high vitamin B2 (riboflavin) intake in humans are known.

  • References

    Consult the full list of scientific references.