Riboflavin Sources and Functions

Riboflavin Sources and Functions (Vitamin B2)

All of the B vitamins work together to keep you healthy and feeling good. Here is a summary of the role of riboflavin, a water-soluble vitamin, in your good health.

What it does Functions as a coenzyme to help release energy from the food you eat
Daily needs [Infants*: .3-.4 mg] [Children†: .5-1.3 mg] [Men: 1.3 mg]
[Women: 1.1 mg] [Pregnant: 1.4 mg] [Lactating: 1.6 mg]
Not enough Sore mouth/throat, Inflamed eyes, Skin inflammation,Inflamed digestive tract, Impaired iron absorption
Severe - Ariboflavinosis
Too Much No known toxicity effects
Foods Milk and other dairy products, Dark green, leafy vegetables, Whole or enriched grain products

*The lower value is for infants up to 6 mos.,higher value is for infants up to a year old.
† The first value is for children 1-3 with the amount increasing until age 18.

Destroyed by Light

Riboflavin is destroyed by light and irradiation, but not by cooking. This is of particular interest now, because the government is considering irradiating all fresh produce to kill germs.

Getting Enough

In general, people who live in developed countries like the USA get enough riboflavin. However, those suffering from eating disorders or living in poverty may not eat enough food to get sufficient riboflavin in their diet.

If you are a vegan or you are lactose-intolerant and do not eat dairy products, you should eat more dark, leafy vegetables and whole or enriched grain products.

--Caveat: Alcoholics are at particular risk for riboflavin deficiency, since alcohol inhibits the ability of the body to absorb and use riboflavin. This means that even if an alcoholic is eating lots of dairy products, the body may not have access to enough riboflavin to maintain good health. If alcohol is replacing food in the diet, there could also be a riboflavin deficiency.

If you eat a variety of foods from all of the food groups, you will more than likely get enough riboflavin.


Fun Fact:  Liver is an excellent source of riboflavin, as well as other nutrients. However, since the liver is the chemical plant of the body, both yours and the cow’s, you may want to consider what else might be in the liver that is not good for you.
Since liver and onions used to be one of my favorite dishes, I will never forget my physiology and anatomy professor in college telling us that, based on his knowledge of physiology, he would not eat liver, because of its potential for being a toxic waste site.


Athletes and heavy laborers need a slightly higher amount of riboflavin in their diet, since these activities can deplete riboflavin. There is also some evidence that riboflavin may by useful in the treatment of migraine headaches.


Click here to go from Healthy Eating Vitamins 1 - Riboflavin Sources and Functions page to Vitamins page.




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