Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is one of eight B vitamins. When it comes to the history of vitamin B2, it was discovered by Blyth in 1879 and isolated by Kuhn, Gyorgy, and Wagner in 1933. Having numerous important functions, it is crucial for our health. It plays a major role in enzyme reactions that activate other vitamins, and it takes part in energy production, just like other B-complex vitamins. Now we’ll see what vitamin B2 foods you should add to your eating plan to feel good and stay healthy.
What Is Vitamin B2?
Riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that it is carried through the bloodstream. The body doesn’t store this type of vitamin, but it excretes all excess amounts in urine. Therefore, you have to include foods rich in riboflavin in your everyday diet. Vitamin B2 is a component of two coenzymes (flavin mononucleotide and flavin adenine dinucleotide) which have essential roles in the metabolism of fats, drugs, and steroids. They also play an important part in energy production in the body.
Vitamin B2 Benefits
Along with vitamin B1, riboflavin takes part in the metabolic process of breaking down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is the body’s energy source for all vital processes. Another vitamin B2 function is to contribute to the production of red blood cells. Stimulating antibody production, it also helps in strengthening the immune system.
Thanks to riboflavin, the body is able to absorb and activate iron, folic acid, and vitamins B1, B3, and B6. Vitamin B2 enables adrenal glands to produce hormones. Along with vitamin A, it maintains a healthy liver, skin, and hair. Normal fetal development depends on this vitamin as well. According to some studies on vitamin B2, migraine may be prevented with high-dose riboflavin treatment.
Sources of Vitamin B2
Riboflavin can be found in various foods, but meats, eggs, and dairy products are especially high in this nutrient. Vitamin B2 is also often added to certain types of food, like grains and cereals. It’s good to know that a lot of riboflavin content is lost when you boil food because vitamin B2 is soluble in water. Therefore, it’s better to prepare it in a different way, for example, by grilling or steaming.
Since a balanced diet can prevent vitamin B2 deficiency diseases, here you can find a list of healthy foods that you should include in your eating plan.
Beef, like all meats, is a great source of riboflavin. Three ounces of grilled tenderloin steak will provide you with 24% of your daily value (DV) of vitamin B. However, beef liver is even a better option as three ounces of pan-fried liver serve 171% of your DV of riboflavin.
Another type of meat that has a high vitamin B2 content is pork. A 3-ounce pork loin chop gives you about 20% of the recommended value of this important nutrient. It’s great that it also contains other B vitamins, such as thiamine and niacin.
Chicken dark meat contains more riboflavin than chicken breast. If you eat three ounces of cooked, chicken dark meat, you will get about 11% of your DV of vitamin B. On the other hand, three ounces of cooked chicken breast have 6% of the recommended value of riboflavin.
In three ounces of pink salmon, you’ll get 12% of your DV of riboflavin. This type of oily fish also belongs to foods high in vitamin B3. In addition, it is an excellent source of vitamins B1, B5, B6, and B12.
A 3-ounce serving of cooked clams provides you with 24% of your daily value of vitamin B2. Being rich in iron and omega-3 fatty acids, they are extremely healthy, especially because they are mercury-free seafood. Moreover, they contain other minerals and vitamins such as vitamin A, selenium, and potassium.
Trout is another oily fish which is high in vitamin B2. Three ounces of cooked trout give you around 21% of the recommended daily value of riboflavin. This freshwater fish also belongs to vitamin B6 foods, and it is a great source of numerous minerals including selenium and potassium.
Three ounces of cooked mussels serve more than 20% of your DV of riboflavin. They are also rich in other B vitamins and some important minerals, such as iron and magnesium. Like other shellfish, mussels are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Dairy products are rich in riboflavin. One cup of plain yogurt will get you 35% of your daily value of vitamin B2. A cup of milk provides 29%, while 3 ounces of Swiss cheese has 18% of the recommended value of riboflavin. Dairy products are also vitamin B1 foods as well as a great source of vitamin B12.
Portobello mushrooms are fat-free and low in calories while providing a number of healthy nutrients. They contain several B vitamins, including riboflavin. Half a cup of grilled, sliced portobello mushrooms serves 18% of your DV of vitamin B2. In addition, they are rich sources of copper and selenium.
If you eat one large scrambled egg, you will cover 12% of your daily needs for vitamin B2. Eggs are highly nutritious as they contain a number of vitamins and minerals. For example, they belong to vitamin B12 foods, and they are a rich source of selenium.
Almonds have a number of health benefits as they are an excellent source of many important nutrients. One ounce of roasted almonds contains 18% of your DV of riboflavin. These healthy nuts are also rich in vitamin A and calcium.
In only 10 grapes, you get 69% of the recommended daily value of riboflavin. So Muscadine grapes are definitely vitamin B2 rich foods. Moreover, they are packed with fiber and a great source of manganese, one of the important antioxidants.
A well-known proverb – An apple a day keeps a doctor away – says much about this fruit. One large apple with skin will provide you with 6% of the recommended value of vitamin B2. Furthermore, apples are loaded with fiber and vitamin C. Potassium is another healthy nutrient that you will get by eating apples.
Avocados are foods high in vitamin B2. In one avocado, you will get 20% of your DV of this vitamin. In addition to riboflavin, they contain other B vitamins, such as vitamins B5, B6, and B9. Also, they are rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K. What’s more, this fruit is a great source of potassium and copper.
Purple Passion Fruit Juice
Passion fruit is a good source of a range of vitamins. One cup of juice made of this tropical fruit contains 25% of the recommended value of vitamin B2. It’s also healthy as it has vitamins A and C which act as antioxidants.
Spinach is a green, leafy vegetable packed with vitamins and minerals. In addition to being a rich source of vitamins A, C, and B9, it belongs to vitamin B2 sources. One cup of raw spinach covers 6% of your DV of riboflavin.
Kidney beans contain a range of vitamins and minerals. Since one cup of canned kidney beans has 6% of the recommended daily value of riboflavin, this type of legume is considered a good source of vitamin B2. Among other nutrients they provide are vitamin B9, iron, and magnesium. Kidney beans are also a rich source of protein and fiber.
Asparagus is one of great vitamin B2 foods sources as one cup of cooked asparagus provides 19% of your DV of riboflavin. Being rich in vitamins A, C, K, and B9, this veggie can bring a number of benefits to your health.
One serving of fortified breakfast cereals can cover up to 100% of your daily value of vitamin B2. In addition to riboflavin, other vitamins are also added to cereals. However, be careful to choose those with no added sugar.
Oats are rich in a number of vitamins and minerals, including manganese, phosphorus, and copper. Sometimes, minerals and vitamins are also added to them, so they can have a really high content of certain nutrients. For example, one cup of cooked, fortified oats contains 65% of the recommended DV of riboflavin.
Recommended Daily Intake
The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies developed the Dietary Reference Intakes where you can find intake recommendations for all the important nutrients. Here we will provide you with the values of the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for riboflavin. RDA represents an average daily intake that is meant to meet the nutrient requirements of healthy people. If your riboflavin intake is too low, you are at risk of developing vitamin B2 deficiency. Therefore, it’s important to adopt healthy eating habits and include a variety of foods in your diet.
The recommended dietary allowances of vitamin B2 depending on age and sex are the following:
- From birth to 6 months – 0.3 mg
- From 7 to 12 months – 0.4 mg
- From 1 to 3 years – 0.5 mg
- From 4 to 8 years – 0.6 mg
- From 9 to 13 years – 0.9 mg
- From 14 to 18 years – 1.3 mg (male) and 1.0 mg (female)
- 19+ years – 1.3 mg (male) and 1.1 mg (female)
However, women should increase their daily intake of riboflavin during pregnancy and lactation. The RDA for vitamin B2 during pregnancy and lactation are 1.4 mg and 1.6 mg, respectively.
Vitamin B2 Deficiency Symptoms
A healthy eating plan is very important as a poor diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies, including a riboflavin deficiency. Since the body isn’t able to store water-soluble vitamins, the inadequate intake of vitamin B2 can result in ariboflavinosis, which is another name for low levels of vitamin B2. This type of deficiency caused by poor diet is called primary and can easily be prevented by eating sufficient amounts of foods with vitamin B2. Secondary deficiency can be a consequence of the body’s inability to absorb riboflavin properly. It can also be caused by endocrine abnormalities or some diseases.
There are a number of symptoms of riboflavin deficiency, including skin disorders, such as dry skin, redness, and swelling of the mouth and throat. Other signs of deficiency are lesions at the corners of the mouth, swollen, cracked lips, and hair loss. It can also cause inflammation of the tongue, sore throat, and itchy and red eyes. Some of the more serious problems related to this health condition are reproductive problems and degeneration of the liver and nervous system. Low levels of vitamin B2 may have adverse effects on the metabolism of other nutrients as well. Severe riboflavin deficiency may even lead to anemia and cataracts.
Who Should Take Vitamin B2 Supplements?
A diet including a variety of healthy foods is the key to our health and the best way of preventing nutrient deficiencies. However, vitamin supplements can be used as a part of a vitamin B2 deficiency treatment. Although riboflavin deficiency is pretty rare, there are a few groups that are at greater risk of developing this condition.
First, athletes who follow a vegetarian diet are more likely to have lower levels of riboflavin. Due to their increased physical activity, they need a higher amount of vitamin B2. On the other hand, if they avoid eating all animal products including dairy products and eggs, they are excluding really good sources of this vitamin, which can result in a riboflavin deficiency.
Secondly, pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding are likely to become deficient in vitamin B2 if they don’t consume enough meat or dairy products. This can negatively affect both mothers and their infants.
Furthermore, people with the Brown-Vialetto-Van Laere syndrome need vitamin B2 supplementation as this disease causes riboflavin deficiency.
Vitamin B2 Side Effects
Since riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin, the body excretes all the excess amounts of it, and therefore there is no risk of overdosing with vitamin B2. Still, you should always be careful with nutrient supplementation. Never take it if you haven’t consulted with your physician as riboflavin supplements can interact with some medications.
Vitamin B2 or riboflavin has a crucial role in energy creation and nutrient absorption. Since a number of processes depend on this nutrient, it is essential for enabling our body to function normally. A poor diet can result in riboflavin deficiency, which can further lead to some serious health conditions. That’s why it’s of tremendous importance to include foods rich in riboflavin in your eating plan.
What does vitamin B2 do?
Vitamin B2 helps the body boost energy levels by converting carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into usable energy. It also contributes to growth, protects skin and eye health, and maintains healthy blood cells. Moreover, riboflavin is responsible for the metabolism of iron in the body and the normal functioning of the nervous system.
Does riboflavin help hair growth?
Riboflavin aids in hair growth since it plays a key role in activating vitamins B3 and B6. These two vitamins have a crucial role in hair development. It is known that vitamin B6 prevents hair loss and gives hair melanin. So to have healthy and shiny hair, you need to add foods high in riboflavin to your daily diet.
What does vitamin B2 prevent?
Although some research still needs to be done, vitamin B2 is used to prevent certain types of cancer. People also take it to prevent and treat migraine headaches. In addition, riboflavin is used for the prevention of several eye conditions, like cataracts and glaucoma. It’s also recommended to take riboflavin for maintaining healthy hair, skin, and nails.
What happens if you don’t get enough riboflavin?
If you don’t consume enough foods which contain vitamin B2, you are at risk of developing a deficiency. The signs of this health condition include dry skin, cracked lips, mouth ulcers, itchy and bloodshot eyes, and sore throat. Lack of this vitamin can lead to more severe health issues, such as cataracts and anemia.
What foods contain vitamin B2?
A number of foods are naturally rich in vitamin B2, but there is also a range of fortified foods to which riboflavin is added. Most commonly, breakfast cereals are fortified with B-complex vitamins. Foods with a naturally high content of riboflavin include meat, eggs, and dairy products. In addition, oily fish and shellfish, such as oysters, clams, and, mussels, are an excellent source of this nutrient. Some vegetables and fruits are also good sources of riboflavin; for example, apples, passion fruit, grapes, and avocados.
What vegetables have vitamin B2?
Although the main sources of this vitamin are meat and other animal products, like eggs and milk, there are various vegetables that contain this essential nutrient. Vitamin B2 foods that are perfect for vegans include kidney beans, asparagus, spinach, artichokes, and tomatoes.