Image for Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
Riboflavin (vitamin B2)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • 7,8-Dimethyl-10 (1'-D-ribityl) isoalloxazine, Ashbya gossypii, B-complex vitamin, Dolo-Neurotrat®, FAD, flavin, flavin adenine dinucleotide, flavin mononucleotide, flavine, FMN, glycosylated riboflavin, lactoflavin, riboflavin 5'-monophosphate, riboflavin-5-phosphate, riboflavina, riboflavine, riboflavinum D 2914A, vitamin B2, vitamin G.
  • Note: The Evidence Table and Evidence Discussion for this monograph are limited to systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • The vitamin B complex comprises water-soluble enzyme cofactors and their derivatives (1;2). Riboflavin is a B vitamin, which is involved in vital metabolic processes in the body and is necessary for normal cell function, growth, and energy production. Small amounts of riboflavin are present in most animal and plant tissues. In the body, riboflavin is converted to flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) and flavin mononucleotide (FMN). FAD and FMN are coenzymes that attach to proteins (flavoproteins) to activate them and play a role in many metabolic processes in the body. Examples include methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), glutathione reductase, and kynurenine mono-oxygenase. Riboflavin is needed for processes involved with activation of vitamin B6, creation of niacin, activity of the adrenal gland, formation of red blood cells, antibody production, mitochondrial activity, growth, digestion, eye health, etc.
  • Healthy individuals who eat a balanced diet rarely need riboflavin supplements. Especially good dietary sources of riboflavin are milk (and other dairy products), eggs, enriched cereals and grains, meats, liver, and green vegetables (such as asparagus or broccoli). Dates are also a source of riboflavin (3), as is fermented milk (4).
  • Intake may be lower in vegans compared to lacto-ovo or nonvegetarians. Also, seasonal deficiencies occur in some parts of the world where riboflavin levels differ with available foods, such as in many African countries. Riboflavin supplementation is necessary in riboflavin-deficient individuals. Other groups susceptible to riboflavin deficiency include the elderly, those with chronic illness, the poor, and alcoholics. Also, riboflavin is sensitive to photodegradation (5;6). Symptoms of riboflavin deficiency include skin lesions, sore throat, cracked and red lips, mouth ulcers, edema and hyperemia of mucous membranes, angular cheilitis, glossitis, seborrheic dermatitis, eye problems (bloodshot, itchy, watery, sensitive), and normocytic, normochromic anemia associated with bone-marrow erythrocyte hypoplasia (7;8;9). Riboflavin deficiency is usually accompanied by deficiencies in other water-soluble B vitamins.
  • Riboflavin is often used as a tracer of medication compliance in the treatment of patients with alcohol dependence, mental disorders, and other conditions, and during clinical trials. Urinary riboflavin levels may be measured in order to determine the level of compliance or drug delivery (10;11;12;13;14;15;16;17;18;19;20;21;22;23;24;25;26;27;28;29;30;31;32;33;34;35;36) or to measure stomach acidity (using acid-dissolving granules of riboflavin) (37), as well as a coloring agent, in order to determine compliance in clinical trials (38).
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Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.