Vitamin B2 Deficiency


Alcoholics are at increased risk of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) deficiency due to decreased intake, decreased absorption, and impaired utilization of riboflavin.

Additionally, anorexic individuals rarely consume adequate riboflavin, and lactose intolerant individuals may not consume milk or other dairy products which are good sources of riboflavin.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) deficiency is rarely found in isolation; it occurs frequently in combination with deficiencies of other water-soluble vitamins.


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. Other symptoms may involve the formation of blood vessels in the clear covering of the eye and decreased red blood cell count (1, 3).

A study in 154 pregnant women found that those who were riboflavin deficient were 4.7 times more likely to develop ‘preeclampsia’, defined as the presence of elevated blood pressure, protein in the urine, and edema (significant swelling) during pregnancy (19). However, a small randomized placebo-controlled trial in 450 pregnant women with prior preeclampsia found that supplementation with 15 mg/day riboflavin did not prevent the condition (20).

Measurement of ‘glutathione reductase’ activity in red blood cells is commonly used to assess riboflavin nutritional status (21).

Authored by Dr Peter Engel in 2010, reviewed by Hasan Mohajeri on 01.09.2017