Living organisms derive most of their energy from oxidation-reduction (redox) reactions, involving the transfer of electrons. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is the precursor of ‘flavo coenzymes’ that participate in redox reactions in many metabolic pathways (3), support the metabolization of drugs and toxins (4), and are critical for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
The flavocoenzyme-dependent ‘glutathione redox cycle’ has a major antioxidant function protecting organisms from reactive oxygen species, which have potentially damaging effects. Riboflavin deficiency has been associated with increased oxidative stress (4). Another flavocoenzyme-dependent oxidation reaction generates uric acid, one of the most effective water-soluble antioxidants in the blood (5).
Flavoproteins are involved in the metabolism of several other vitamins of the ‘vitamin B-complex’, such as vitamin B3, B6, and B9 (6, 7, 8).
Although the mechanism is not clear, research in animals suggests that vitamin B2 (riboflavin) deficiency may impair iron absorption, increase intestinal loss of iron, and/or impair iron utilization for the synthesis of hemoglobin. In humans, improving riboflavin nutritional status has been found to increase circulating hemoglobin levels (9).
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which provides scientific advice to assist policy makers, has confirmed that clear health benefits have been established for the dietary intake of vitamin B2 in contributing to:
Authored by Dr Peter Engel in 2010, reviewed by Hasan Mohajeri on 01.09.2017