Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is part of the complex of vitamin B. It was discovered in 1933, although there was evidence of it in 1879 when, looking through the microscope, they saw that the milk had a yellow green component. Since this substance is called "flavin" and was also appeared in the liver and egg white, though it was not what was their importance to the organism. It was in 1933 when a group of Swiss researchers found that this was a new vitamin, which they called "riboflavin"
Riboflavin is necessary:
- For the body to transform food into energy, mainly because it is necessary for the production of enzymes, mainly for the thyroid involved in this process.
- To maintain a good vision.
- To maintain the good condition of the nerve cells.
- For tissue regeneration.
- For healthy skin, hair or nails cells .
- It works, along with pyridoxine and niacin, in the maintenance of the immune system , causing that the organism defends itself better of the germs.
- Along with other vitamins of group B, it produces red blood cells and it contributes to maintain them in good state.
A deficiency of this vitamin is mainly shown by problems of treatment in the wounds, cracked or ulcerous lips, cracked skin, dermatitis, oily skin, poor eye adaptation to light, red and swollen eyes, body weakness, delayed growth, swelling of the tongue and anemia.
Where can riboflavin be found?
Animal sources of the B2 vitamin: The main animal source is milk and its derivatives (cheeses, yogurts, custard, etc.), especially the skimmed dairy products. Within animal foods, it mainly appears in the liver and rest of viscera, beef and veal, pork, lamb and fish.
Supplements: Besides food, this vitamin can be obtained through supplements in the form of capsules or tablets. Riboflavin can be taken alone or with vitamin B multisuplement (This vitamin works best in combination with other B vitamins). Contained quantities of the vitamin are generally between 30 and 100 mg. It is best taken with meals to enhance absorption.
Medicinal properties of riboflavin:
Normally a varied diet is usually sufficient to meet the daily demands of this vitamin. There are however some situations where it will be necessary to increase the daily dose. The administration of vitamin supplements, under strict medical supervision, may be appropriate. Among all situations we would mention the following:
- It helps to overcome migraines: People who are prone to headaches may improve their situation by taking supplements of this vitamin. (The usual dose is 400 mg daily)
- It is useful to protect the health of the eyes: By stimulating the antioxidant activity of vitamin E, the state protects the eyes from the destructive action of free radicals. This vitamin is part of the composition of the retina. Low levels of the same determined that people with this problem are not well adapted to changes in light intensity, which is known as photophobia. Interestingly, its preventive action against cataracts. However, one should be cautious in the dose provided, since an excess of it could degenerate constituting itself as an oxidant that could worsen the situation of vision. Many experts recommend that it is better to take the required dose from food and discard supplements. Others believe that small amounts of this supplement can help.
(Doses ranging from 10 mg daily, according to some specialists and 25, according to others)
- Skin problems: The use of riboflavin supplements helps to improve the condition of the skin. Its antioxidant properties are particularly useful in diseases such as psoriasis, rosacea, the healing of wounds, burns, etc. (The usual dose is usually about 50 mg daily)
- It helps to overcome nerve problems: Riboflavin helps keep nerves healthy. Vitamin supplements may be helpful in overcoming some conditions in which nerves are affected, such as stress, anxiety, insomnia, etc.
Daily needs of riboflavin
The necessary dose of riboflavin for an adult is of 1.7 daily mgs. The RDA may vary according to age and special circumstances. Among these special circumstances that can cause a deficiency of this vitamin and may require an additional intake, we can mention:
- The use of contraceptives, antidepressants or antibiotics.
- The non ingestion of milk or dairy products, especially in people with lactose intolerance.
- The adoption of very strict vegetarian diets in which they eggs and milk or its derivatives are not included.
- Bad intestinal absorption
- Very exaggerated physical effort, mainly in certain professions and sport elite.
The following table shows the minimum amounts recommended.
Recommended amount of riboflavin (B2 vitamin) in mcg (micrograms)
Less than 6 months
Of 6 months to 1 year
Of 1 to 3 years
Of 4 to 6 years
7 to 10 years
Men of 11 to 14 years
Men of 15 to 18 years
Men of 19 to 50 years
Men of more than 50 years
Women of 11 to 50 years
Women of more than 50 years
Women during pregnancy
Toxicity of Vitamin B2
Riboflavin is a water soluble vitamin. This means that excessive amounts that can be taken are eliminated in the urine. However, excess of this vitamin can cause poor absorption of thiamine or pyridoxine. This excess causes a yellowing of the urine.
Riboflavin is very sensitive to contact with light. Foods rich in it, like milk, should be kept in the dark to avoid degradation, and hence are better protected in sealed containers and not transparent. In the case of meat, we must bear in mind that almost half of the vitamin is lost when cooked.
It is advisable to consult your doctor before starting any treatment with riboflavin supplements. This is particularly required if you are taking any other medically or if you have a disease.