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Riboflavin

Riboflavin is a type of B vitamin. It is water soluble, which means it is not stored in the body. You must replenish the vitamin in your body every day.

Alternative Names

Vitamin B2

Function

Riboflavin (vitamin B2) works with the other B vitamins. It is important for body growth and red blood cell production and helps in releasing energy from carbohydrates .

Food Sources

The following foods provide riboflavin in the diet:

  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Lean meats
  • Legumes
  • Milk
  • Nuts

Breads and cereals are often fortified with riboflavin. Fortified means the vitamin has been added to the food.

Because riboflavin is destroyed by exposure to light, foods with riboflavin should not be stored in glass containers that are exposed to light.

Side Effects

Deficiency of riboflavin is not common in the United States because this vitamin is plentiful in the food supply. Symptoms of a severe deficiency include:

  • Mouth or lip sores
  • Skin disorders
  • Sore throat
  • Swelling of mucus membranes

Because riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin, leftover amounts leave the body through the urine. There is no known poisoning from riboflavin.

Recommendations

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamins reflects how much of each vitamin most people should get each day. The RDA for vitamins may be used to help create each person's goal.

How much of each vitamin you need depends on your age and gender. Other factors, such as pregnancy and illnesses, are also important. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding need higher amounts. Ask your health care provider which amount is best for you

Dietary Reference Intakes for riboflavin (vitamin B2):

Infants

  • 0 - 6 months: 0.3* milligrams per day (mg/day)
  • 7 - 12 months: 0.4* mg/day

*Adequate Intake (AI)

Children

  • 1 - 3 years: 0.5 mg/day
  • 4 - 8 years: 0.6 mg/day
  • 9 - 13 years: 0.9 mg/day

Adolescents and Adults

  • Males age 14 and older: 1.3 mg/day
  • Females age 14 to 18 years: 1.0 mg/day
  • Females age 19 and older: 1.1 mg/day

The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods.

References

Escott-Stump S, ed. Nutrition and Diagnosis-Related Care. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008.

Sarubin Fragaakis A, Thomson C. The Health Professional's Guide to Popular Dietary Supplements. 3rd ed. Chicago, Il: American Dietetic Association; 2007.

Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1998.

Updated: 2/18/2013

Alison Evert, MS, RD, CDE, Nutritionist, University of Washington Medical Center Diabetes Care Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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