Riboflavin or Vitamin B-2 belongs to the Vitamin-B group, which are of eight kinds viz. vitamin B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, B-7, B-9, B-12. It plays a crucial role in conversion and breaks down of protein, fats and carbohydrate to produce energy. Vitamin B-2 converts complex carbohydrates, proteins and fat into simple sugar, amino acids and fatty acids by producing an energy molecule ATP, which is known as “Energy currency” of the cells to function.
Vitamin B-2 is one of the most important dietary supplement that our body needs. Spinach, fish, almonds, mushrooms, fortified grains, eggs, cheese etc. are rich in vitamin-B2. A person with vitamin B-2 deficiency should necessarily intake foods that are rich in vitamin B-2 as it cures migraines, neonatal jaundice, anaemia etc.
Vitamin B-2 was discovered in 1920, by Richard Kuhn and Theodor Wagner Jauregg. Then in the year 1933, riboflavin was first isolated by Kuhn and Paul Gyorgy. The synthesis of riboflavin had started in the year 1935 by Paul Gyorgy. In the essential medicines, given by the world health organisation, riboflavin is the most effective medicine that is required for healthy living.
- Definition of Riboflavin
- Riboflavin Deficiency
- Side Effects
- Uses of Riboflavin
Definition of Riboflavin
Riboflavin is an aromatic hetero-polycyclic organic compound which belongs to the class “Flavin” and is a type of vitamin-B complex. Thus, it can define as the organic compounds which are composed of flavoproteins and belongs to the group of the water-soluble vitamin-B complex.
“Vitamin B-2” is a common name of Riboflavin which helps in the cell growth and function. In the structural moiety of vitamin B-2, the alloxazine tricyclic ring is present.
There are certain properties of vitamin B-2, which are mentioned in the table given below:
|Alternative / Common name||Vitamin B-2|
|Half life||66-84 minutes|
|Sensitivity||Sensitive to UV light and high temperature|
|Sources of Riboflavin:|
|Avocado, squash, cherries etc.|
|Green leafy vegetables, kelp, mushrooms, tomatoes, asparagus etc.|
|Yogurt, milk and cheese|
|Meat, eggs and fish|
|Fortified cereals and nuts|
The functions of riboflavin include:
- Riboflavin acts as an important element in the formation of co-enzymes like FMN (Flavin mononucleotide) and FAD (Flavin adenine dinucleotide) by the assistance of an enzyme “Riboflavin kinase”.
- It provides energy to the cell by the breakdown of nutrients present in the food we intake.
- Riboflavin helps in the metabolism of carbohydrate, protein and fats etc.
- Vitamin B-2 maintains the homocysteine to an average level in our body.
- Vitamin B-2 also protects tissue from lipid peroxidation.
- Riboflavin prevents acne and keeps the skin healthy by increasing the mucus secretion.
Under UV exposure, the riboflavin degrades into various photoproducts. The photoproducts include formylmethylflavin (FMF), lumichrome (LC), lumiflavin (LF), carboxymethyl Flavin (CMF), 2,3- butanedione, β-keto acid and diketo compound. FMF acts as an intermediate product in the photodegradation of riboflavin.
Deficiency of Riboflavin is a clinical condition which commonly refers to as “Ariboflavinosis”. The deficiency of riboflavin is not very common in western countries. The symptoms of vitamin B-2 deficiency include:
- Anaemia, fatigue, sore throat, poor metabolism, cracked lips, mood swings, skin inflammation etc.
The symptoms appear just after a few days, according to the Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Riboflavin deficiency occurs by the two factors:
- A poor diet of vitamin B-2 is the primary factor.
- Poor absorption of Vitamin B-2 and rapid excretion from the body is the secondary factor
Riboflavin is an essential dietary supplement which sufficient intake is necessary for our body. According to Oregon State University, the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) provides a reference amount of riboflavin per day, which is given in the table:
In terms of Estimated Average Requirements (EARs), riboflavin intake for men and women ages 14 are up to 1.1 mg and 0.9 mg per day, respectively.
Thus, RDA and EARs provide an estimated uptake of vitamin B-2 and collectively refers as “Dietary Reference Intakes”. The top five foods which are rich in vitamin B-2 are beef liver, yoghurt, milk, spinach and almonds contains 3mg, 0.6mg, 0.4mg, 0.4mg and 0.3 mg respectively.
Therefore, people with vitamin B-2 deficiency must add vitamin B-2 rich foods to their diet.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Centre (UMM), Excessive intake of vitamin B-2 can cause the following side effects like:
- Yellow or dark yellow urine
- Sensitivity towards light
- Burning or prickling
Uses of Riboflavin
Riboflavin shows the following benefits like:
Helps in the treatment of migraine
High dose up to 400mg/day is recommended for the person who experiences severe migraine attacks. Vitamin B-2 reduces the pain and frequency of the migraine.
Nowadays, Vitamin B-2 is used in combination with magnesium and coenzyme Q10 as a remedy or to manage the symptoms of migraine.
Promotes healthy skin and hair
Vitamin B-2 maintains the level of collagen in our body, which is necessary to live young with healthy skin and hairs. Its deficiency can make you look aged. Vitamin B-2 also reduce the slow signs of ageing, skin inflammation etc.
Maintains an eye health
Deficiency of Vitamin B-2 can cause eye impairment like glaucoma. Glaucoma is an eye disease in which a person loses his eyesight. In addition to glaucoma, eye cataracts, keratoconus is also common in case of riboflavin deficiency.
Thus, Vitamin B-2 maintains eye health for which riboflavin drops apply to the surface of the cornea. Vitamin B-2 then penetrates through the cornea and increase its strength.
Rich in Antioxidants
Vitamin B-2 is rich in antioxidants which control the presence of free radical within our body. Vitamin B-2 secretes glutathione which is an antioxidant that detoxes the liver.
Riboflavin also prevents a certain type of cancer like colorectal cancer, oesophageal cancer, cervical cancer etc. It minimizes the effects of carcinogens and the presence of free radicals.
Vitamin B-2 produce energy in the form of ATP as a result of carbohydrate, protein and fat breakdown that are present in the food. Thus, Vitamin B-2 converts nutrients of food into energy that a body can utilize.
In simple words, Vitamin B-2 maintains the metabolism of our body.
Anaemia is a clinical condition that results by a decrease in RBCs production. Vitamin B-2 helps in the steroid and RBCs synthesis. Thus, Vitamin B-2 aids in the treatment of anaemia, which includes symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath etc. Along with anaemia, Vitamin B-2 also controls the level of homocysteine in the blood.
Vitamin B-2 regulates thyroid and adrenal activity. Along with this, Vitamin B-2 also helps in the recovery of chronic stress.
Treats Neurological disease
Recent studies have shown that Vitamin B-2 can also minimize the consequences of neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis etc.
Promotes Heart Health
Vitamin B-2 promotes heart health by maintaining the average level of homocysteine in the blood. A high amount of homocysteine in the blood can cause damage in arteries, blood vessels and increases the blood clotting, which sometimes leads to heart disease.
Therefore, people with high homocysteine should eat as much as fruits and green leafy vegetables, rich in vitamin B content. Hence, Vitamin B-2 prevents heart disease, as they act as an antioxidant, which reduces the oxidative stress or removes free radicals from the body.