Vitamin B2, also called riboflavin, is a water-soluble B vitamin. Vitamin B2 was first noticed in 1879 as a green pigment found in milk. It is not stored in the human body for any period, and it is therefore important to include a regular dietary source of this vitamin.
Benefits of Vitamin B2:
* Riboflavin plays an important role in certain metabolic reactions of the body, particularly the conversion of carbohydrates (into sugar) and amino acids, which is burned to produce fuel necessary to carry out various activities.
* Vitamin B2 also plays an important role in maintaining muscle tone along the lining of the digestive tract, and promoting the physical condition of the nervous system, skin, hair, eyes, mouth, and liver.
* Riboflavin is an important nutrient in the prevention of headache and some visual disturbances, particularly cataracts.
* It also helps keep mucous membranes (such as those lining the mouth) healthy.
* Needed to process amino acids and fats, activate Vitamin B6 and folic acid,
* Essential for normal tissue respiration.
* B2 is an excellent antioxidant, and works by neutralizing damaging particles in the body (free radicals). These particles, which occur naturally in the body, not only damage cell membranes, but also intermingle with genetic material, and contribute to the development of a number of serious illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. Riboflavin has the potential to neutralize free radicals, and may reduce or even help prevent some of the harm.
* In the treatment of anaemia, adding Vitamin B2 to iron supplements has shown to increase its effectiveness.
Deficiency of Vitamin B2 –
Unlike other B vitamins, riboflavin is not found in many dietary sources. Riboflavin deficiency is medically termed as pellagra. The most common cause of riboflavin deficiency is dietary insufficiency, which occurs in those who do not consume rich dietary sources of the vitamin.
Symptoms of riboflavin deficiency include:
« stunted growth,
« sensitivity to light,
« digestive problems,
« cracks around the corners of the mouth,
« eye tiredness
« dull or oily hair, an oily skin, premature wrinkles on the face and arms, and split nails.
« malfunctioning of the adrenal glands.
« soreness of the lips, mouth and tongue.
« the tongue may turn magenta (glossitis),
« seborrheic dermatitis (particularly affecting the scrotum, around the nose and in the area between
the nose and the lips).
« conjunctivitis and watering of eyes
Sources of Vitamin B2 –
The best dietary sources of riboflavin include yeast, almonds, organ meats such as liver, whole grains, wheat germ, leafy green vegetables, mushroom, oily fish, soyabeans, dairy products such as milk and yogurt, eggs, and spinach.
Flours and breakfast cereals are often fortified with riboflavin.
Extra doses of this vitamin might be required if a person is a regular alcoholic, dependent on antibiotics, birth control pills or doing some strenuous exercise.
If a person is under a lot of stress or on a counted-calorie diet, vitamin B2 is also of importance.
Who is likely to be deficient?
Vitamin B2 deficiency exclusively is not quite common. Deficiency of the vitamin can occur in the elderly subsisting mostly on tea, coffee, bread, biscuits. Riboflavin deficiency also occurs in those with chronic liver disease, chronic alcoholics.
It usually occurs in association with deficiencies of other B vitamins in mostly those people who have a protein and calorie deficiency. Chronic disorders, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes mellitus increase the risk of Vitamin B2 deficiency.
Also, the deficiency may be more likely in people with cataracts, chronic fatigue syndrome, or sickle cell anaemia.
What is the recommended dosage?
The ideal level of intake is not really known.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is about 1.1 milligrams of riboflavin daily for women and men should have 1.7 milligrams daily. The amounts found in many multivitamin supplements (20-25 mg) is sufficient for most people.
Women who are pregnant, require an additional 0.3 mg per day and lactating mothers require an additional 0.5 mg per day.
Absorption of Vitamin B2 is best when it is taken with meals.
Riboflavin in excess does not appear to cause any serious side effect. Possible reactions to very high doses may include itching, numbness, burning or prickling sensations, and sensitivity to light. A normal yellow discolouration of the urine is seen with an increased intake of vitamin B2 – but this is quite normal and harmless.
Storage of Vitamin B2 –
While riboflavin is not destroyed by heat, it can be lost in water when foods are boiled or soaked. Riboflavin is destroyed by light; therefore, items should be stored away from light to protect their riboflavin content.
If you want to get the maximum B2 vitamin possible from food, refrigerate fresh fruits and veggies and keep milk and grains away from strong light. Vitamins> are easily destroyed and washed out during cooking of food at high temperatures. If taking vitamin B2 supplements, store them at room temperature in a dry place that is free from moisture.