Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is water soluble and part of the family of B vitamins. It is not stored by the body and needs to be replenished each day. It is very important for energy and red blood cell production and for proper growth and development of the body. Dosage for vitamin B2 must not exceed 10mg / day.
Health Benefits of Vitamin B2
Vitamin B2 deficiency is very rare and is found usually in the elderly, alcoholics, or those who consume a very unbalanced diet. The maximum levels of riboflavin are found in the heart, kidneys and liver.
Benefits for the body : Health benefits of vitamin B2 are seen for various body functions. It is a powerful antioxidant and helps to fight free radicals that can damage DNA and body cells that speed up the aging process. As an anti-oxidant, vitamin B2 helps promote heart health and fight cancer. Riboflavin is required by folic acid and vitamin B6 to help convert them into forms the body can use.
Vitamin B2 aids in the breaking down of fats, carbohydrates and proteins. These are then used by the body to maintain energy. The carbohydrates that are thus broken down are converted to ATP – adenosine triphosphate. ATP is needed by muscles to store energy.
FAD (flavin adenine dinucleotide) acts as a cofactor for MTHFR enzyme that is needed to breakdown the metabolism of homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine can cause cardiovascular problems. Researchers suggest that those with deficiency in riboflavin can have poorly functioning MTHFR enzyme therefore running the risk of very high homocysteine levels.
Benefits for eyes : The health benefits of vitamin B2 are vital for promoting good vision. Cloudy vision and damage to the eye lens caused by cataracts can be prevented by adequate daily intake of riboflavin. A study took a group of people and divided them into two. One group was given vitamin b2 and niacin supplements and the other group was given a combination of other nutrients and vitamins. The first group was found to have lesser incidences of cataract.
Benefits for migraines : People who suffer from migraines can get relief if they take vitamin B2 regularly. Some studies have found that the frequency of getting migraine headaches can actually reduce the longer one takes riboflavin. A controlled study found that 400mg of vitamin B2 taken every day reduced the number of attacks of migraine by half. However, this study did not compare the effects of conventional migraine medications and vitamin B2.
Benefits for glutathione recycling : Glutathione is a tiny molecule that is protein-like and helps in prevention of all damage caused by oxygen. This molecule must be constantly recycled and riboflavin helps in this process, therefore helping in the anti-oxidation activities of glutathione. If oxygen is not regulated, it can cause damage to blood vessel linings, cell membranes and joint tissue.
Benefits for reproduction and growth : Good growth and development of body tissues, reproductive organs, connective tissues, skin, mucous membrane, eyes, defense and nervous system all have need of the presence of vitamin B2. Further, it helps in maintaining health of nails skin and promotes hair growth.
Benefits for the nervous system : Riboflavin protects the nervous system and it is used in the treatment of certain conditions like numbness, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and anxiety. Vitamin B6 and B2 together can fight symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Other benefits of vitamin B2
Health benefits of vitamin B2 are also needed for various other body activities:
- Regulation of thyroid activity
- Prevention of diseases such as dermatitis, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis
- Prevention of acne by improving the secretion of mucus by the skin and therefore cleaning up skin pustules that clog pores
- Natural body immunity is strengthened by vitamin B2 as it improves antibody reserves and reinforces defense system of the body in fighting infections.
- Tissues, wounds and other injuries heal faster when there is no deficiency of vitamin B2
- Normal growth and development requires riboflavin
- Corneal health is maintained by vitamin B2
- Progress of AIDS can be slowed by taking vitamin B2 foods and supplements
- Mineral absorption – iron, folic acid and vitamin B3, B1 and B6 – is improved with the help of vitamin B2.
- Maintenance of the mucous membranes which line the digestive tract require the intervention of riboflavin
- Some studies have found that vitamin B2 helps in normal development of the fetus and a healthy pregnancy, if mothers eat a balanced diet that contains vitamin B2.
- Conversion of amino acid trytophan to niacin
- Helps the adrenal glands in hormone production
Foods rich in Vitamin B2
Vitamin B2 rich foods get destroyed when they are exposed to too much light. Hence to enjoy the health benefits of vitamin B2, these foods must be stored safely away from strong lights. They must not be stored in glass containers that let in light.
The richest food sources of vitamin B2 are brewer’s yeast, organ meats, almonds, wheat germ, whole grains, mushrooms, wild rice, milk, soybeans, eggs, yoghurt, broccoli, spinach and Brussels sprouts. Many foods like flours and cereals are fortified in B vitamins like riboflavin. Riboflavin also gets lost in water. Hence it is best to roast and steam vitamin B2 foods rather than fry or scald them to preserve their nutrient value.
High doses of riboflavin do not cause much damage. Sometimes, those who take high doses can get eye damage if exposed to the sun. Such people must wear eye glasses to protect them. Sometimes very high doses taken over an extended period can result in the imbalance of other B vitamins as well as cause burning, prickling, numbness or itchiness. The urine can also have a bright yellow or orange color. Such people can develop light sensitivity.
Health benefits of vitamin B2 are critical to help protect cells from damage from oxygen, help in energy and RBC production and best use of other B vitamins. Hence, maintaining the right supply of riboflavin can prevent and treat various diseases.