Vitamin B2 is also known as Riboflavin and it is one of the eight essential water-soluble vitamins. It plays an important role in maintaining the healthy functioning of the eyes, ear, skin, and red blood cells. It is found in plant and dairy products and you can consume it regularly as being a water-soluble nutrient, the body does not store much of it. Vitamin B2 plays a main role in the development and bodily functions including the brain, blood cells, skin, and lining of the digestive tract. Vitamin B2 is named riboflavin because of its natural color as the term, ‘flavin’ which comes from ‘flavus’, the Latin word for yellow.
Food Sources that contain Vitamin B2
Riboflavin is very essential as it has amazing health benefits. Being a water-soluble vitamin, it is carried through the bloodstream and gets easily eliminated from the body via urine. Vitamin B2 mostly comes from milk and other dairy products and these days the markets are also flooded with other dietary items rich in this vitamin. The most prominent sources of vitamin B2 are cheese, milk, and other dairy products. Many vegetables like mushrooms, avocados, dried peas, beans, broccoli, soybeans, sea vegetables, sweet potato, green peas, brussels sprouts, bell peppers, etc. Green leafy vegetables also contain this vitamin-like asparagus, collard greens, turnip green, mustard green, celery, romaine lettuce, and spinach. Fresh fruits include grapes and seeds and grains include millet, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, wild rice, whole grains, wild rice, etc also rich in vitamin B2. Fortified foods include bread, baby foods, breakfast cereals, pasta, and whole-grain products. Various animal sources include fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and meat and poultry, such as chicken, turkey, kidneys, and liver.
Deficiencies due to vitamin B2
This vitamin provides energy to the body for carrying various activities but its deficiency can decrease the metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates which leads to underlying deficiency syndromes. Its deficiency can also cause high sensitivity to light, a burning sensation in the eyes or itchy, bloodshot eyes, watery eyes, dry or oily hair, dandruff, split nails, indigestion, dizziness, insomnia, etc.
The lack of riboflavin causes malfunctioning of the adrenal glands which leads to conditions like cataract, anemia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. This can also cause scaly skin rashes on the male and female genitals and on the medial cleft of the upper lip or the smile lines connecting the nose and chin.
In a pregnant woman, its deficiency can also cause birth defects, congenital cardiac defects and abnormal limbs, and various deformities in the fetus. In adults, it may lead to pellagra or malaria.
What are the health benefits of Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)?
Here are some of the amazing health benefits of riboflavin like:
- Protects Against Heart Failure
Research has stated that people with heart diseases are often riboflavin deficient. An elevation of homocysteine in the blood is the main cause of heart diseases. This vitamin promotes the breakdown of homocysteine and hence lowers down the circulating levels of homocysteine in the body. Include riboflavin in your daily diet can prevent riboflavin deficiency as well as the onset of various heart diseases.
- Prevents Anemia
Lack of riboflavin in the body increases the risk of anemia. Proper quantity of riboflavin in the body enhances the absorption of iron whereas deficiency of riboflavin reduces the mobilization of iron thus increases the rate of iron loss. Besides this, it also increases the production of red blood cells because low red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood is associated with the onset of anemia. Thus it plays an important role in the prevention of anemia.
- Fights Migraine Headaches
Riboflavin shows good results in the treatment of migraine. Adding diet rich in riboflavin reduce the duration, frequency, and intensity of migraine. This vitamin promotes the conversion of nutrients from the food consumed into energy which is required for the body. This generation of energy in the brain cells prevents migraine attacks.
- Enhances the growth and development
Adequate intake of riboflavin boosts the absorption of iron and zinc. Deficiency of riboflavin in the body associated with poor absorption of iron and zinc which are the two important minerals that are required for proper growth and development in children. It also helps in cell multiplication and growth of tissues and muscles.
- Protect the Nervous System
Riboflavin protects the nervous system from its damaging and provides energy to the brain cells and also treats various nerve-related disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The deficiency of riboflavin increased the free radical damage to the brain cells. Its proper intake increases the enzymatic activity that boosts up the action of natural antioxidants present in the body. It also promotes the elimination of free radicals and protects brain cells against damage.
- Boosts Immunity
Riboflavin plays a major key role in enhancing the immunity that prevents the body from infections. It also reduces inflammation, swelling, and pain. This vitamin has the potency to produce antibodies that fight against infections and illnesses. It provides strength to the body and promotes growth and development.
Upto 18 years: For females-1 mg and for males-1.3 mg
Pregnant women: 1.4 mg
Breast feeding mothers: 1.6 mg
Dr. Vaidya Karanvir Singh is the younger Vaidya in Chandigarh Ayurved & Panchakarma Centre. He is the fourth generation in his family who is practicing as a general consultant in Ayurved & Panchakarma treatment at Chandigarh. In his practice, he had treated more than 1 Lakh Plus patients worldwide.