Vitamin B2 Knowledge

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Vitamin B2 or riboflavin, is a water-soluble vitamin valued biologically for its indispensable function as a coenzyme in a variety of redox reactions. [1] In particular, vitamin B2 acts as the precursor and an integral component of flavin mononucleotide (FMN) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD), two very vital cofactors of numerous (more than 150) reduction-oxidation enzymes, some of which have a role to play in the metabolism of folate, vitamin B6, and cobalamin. [2] Vitamin B2 is key not only in the catabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and protein but also in the activation of antioxidant enzymes that protect cells from the deleterious effects of reactive oxygen species. [3] Vitamin B2 – to some extent – promotes healthy cells by serving as the cofactor for the enzyme glutathione reductase, which is responsible for” reducing” the oxidized form of glutathione back to its reduced version. [4]

There are tons of reasons why we need to ensure vitamin B2 is present in recommended amounts in our diet. In a nutshell, vitamin B2 deficiency results in numerous ill effects, including sore throat, redness and swelling of the oral and throat lining, cracks or sores on the outsides of the lips (cheliosis) and at the corners of the mouth (angular stomatitis), inflammation and redness of the tongue (magenta tongue), and a moist, scaly skin inflammation (seborrheic dermatitis). [4] Moreover, poor riboflavin status has been determined to interfere with iron handling and contribute to the etiology of anemia during low iron intakes, possibly through a mechanism on the gastrointestinal tract that might compromise the handling of other nutrients. [5] A reduced metabolism of other B vitamins, principally folate and vitamin B6, may come as an effect of vitamin B2 deficiency since vitamin B2, first and foremost, helps to convert folate and vitamin B6 to their usable forms. [6]

One European population-based study has shown that higher plasma concentrations of vitamin B2 tend to decrease one’s chances of having colorectal cancer and that vitamin B2 is inversely associated with colorectal cancer. [7] The lack of vitamin B2, in fact, is regarded as a risk factor for cancer, although more studies in humans should still be conducted to provide concrete support to this claim. [5] A 2004 open-label study conducted in a specialized outpatient clinic has reported that high-dose vitamin B2 treatment (400 mg riboflavin capsules per day) significantly reduce headache frequency and is hence an effective, safe, and well-tolerated alternative in migraine prophylaxis. [8]

Because of the vital functions vitamin B2 performs, one’s diet indeed must contain components that are riboflavin-rich. Being a water-soluble vitamin, vitamin B2 is eliminated constantly through our urine, and a balanced diet must hence offer the daily requirement for vitamin B2 to replenish the body’s supply of riboflavin. Fortunately, most food products derived from plants and animals possess at least small quantities of riboflavin. [4] As pointed out by the 1995 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII), milk and milk drinks make the greatest contribution to riboflavin intake in the diets of Western population, followed by bread and bread products, fortified ready-to-eat cereals, and “mixed foods” (sandwiches and other foods with meat, poultry, or fish as the main ingredient). [1] Other significant dietary sources include as well meat, fish, and certain fruit and vegetables, especially dark green vegetables. [5]

The Recommended Dietary Allowance for riboflavin for adults is 1.3 and 1.1 mg/day for men and women, respectively. [1]

Top 30 Foods Rich in Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

The USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 25, can get you covered on this with a brief list of food sources with high vitamin B2 content (sorted by nutrient content):

1. 1 package of spaghetti with meat sauce (frozen entrÈe) – 3.772 mg

2. 3 oz of beef and variety meats, such as liver (cooked, pan-fried) – 2.911 mg

3. 1 cup of turkey (whole, giblets, cooked, simmered) – 2.237 mg

4. 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereals (raisin bran) – 1.760 mg

5. 3/4 cup of ready-to-eat cereals (wheat flakes) – 1.711 mg

6. 3/4 cup of ready-to-eat cereals (whole grain) – 1.710 mg

7. 1 cup of broiler or fryer chicken (giblets, cooked, simmered) – 1.525 mg

8. 1 cup of chocolate malted drink mix with added nutrients (powder, prepared with whole milk) – 1.283 mg

9. 1 cup of milk (canned, condensed, sweetened) – 1.273 mg

10. Half-size domesticated duck meat (cooked, roasted) – 1.039 mg

11. 2 slices of Braunschweiger (a pork liver sausage) – 0.865 mg

12. 1 cup of bread wheat flour (white, enriched) – 0.701 mg; 1 cup of all-purpose wheat flour (white, enriched, bleached) – 0.618 mg

13. 1 cup of cheese sauce (prepared from recipe) – 0.590 mg

14. 1 cup of cake wheat flour (white, enriched) – 0.589 mg

15. 1 cup of cornmeal (self-rising, degermed, enriched, yellow) – 0.534 mg

16. 8 oz of plain yogurt (skim milk) – 0.531 mg

17. 1 cup of breadcrumbs (dry, grated, seasoned) – 0.498 mg

18. 1 cup of soybeans (mature, cooked, boiled, without salt) – 0.490 mg

19. 1 cup of eggnog – 0.483 mg

20. 1 cup of ricotta cheese (whole milk) – 0.480 mg; 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese – 0.447 mg

21. 1 cup of white mushrooms (cooked, boiled, drained, without salt) – 0.468 mg

22. 1 cup of low-fat milk (1% milk fat, with added vitamins A and D) – 0.451 mg; 1 cup of nonfat milk (with added vitamins A and D, fat-free or skim) – 0.446 mg

23. 1 cup of New England clam chowder soup (canned) – 0.436 mg

24. 1 cup of spinach (cooked, boiled, drained, without salt) – 0.425 mg

25. 1 cup of beet greens (cooked, boiled, drained, without salt) – 0.416 mg

26. 8 fl oz of unsweetened rice drink – 0.341 mg

27. 1 fillet of Pacific rockfish (mixed species, cooked, dry heat) – 0.337 mg

28. 3 oz of fresh loin pork (center loin (chops), bone-in, separable lean only, cooked, pan-fried) – 0.336 mg

29. 1 oz (or around 24 pieces) of almond nuts – 0.287 mg

30. One extra large egg (whole, raw, fresh) – 0.265 mg [9]


[1] Riboflavin. In Institute of Medicine (US) Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary
Reference Intakes and its Panel on Folate, Other B Vitamins, and Choline. (1998). Dietary
reference intakes for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, biotin, and choline
. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US).

[2] Hustad S., Schneede J., & Ueland P. M. (2000). Riboflavin and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase.
In Madame Curie bioscience database [Internet]. Austin (TX): Landes Bioscience.

[3] Tremblay L. (2013). What is the function & physiological importance of riboflavin?

[4] Higdon J. (2002). Riboflavin. Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center.

[5] Powers H. J. (2003). Riboflavin (vitamin B-2) and health. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
77(6): 1352-1360.

[6] Ehrlich S. (2011). Vitamin B2 (riboflavin). University of Maryland Medical Center.

[7] Eussen S. J. et al. (2010). Plasma vitamins B2, B6, and B12, and related genetic variants as predictors
of colorectal cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 19(10): 2549-2561.
doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-10-0407.

[8] Boehnke C. et al. (2004). High-dose riboflavin treatment is efficacious in migraine prophylaxis: an
open study in a tertiary care centre. European Journal of Neurology, 11(7): 475-477.

[9] Riboflavin (mg) content of selected foods per common measure. USDA National Nutrient Database
for Standard Reference, Release 25.

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