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Introduction

Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, plays a key role in helping your body build red blood cells and supports various cellular energy-boosting functions in the body (the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates and proteins).

It can be found in many types of foods; however, health experts believe that most of us don’t get enough of it from our diets, which is why some choose to take it as a supplement.

People take vitamin B2 supplements to prevent vitamin B2 deficiency, for migraine headaches, as well as various forms of cancer. Vitamin B2 is also taken to help with acne, carpal tunnel disorder, muscle cramps as well as blood disorders. Some take it to help maintain healthy hair, nails and skin, to slow aging and memory loss (including Alzheimer’s).

The Bottom Line – Vitamin B2 is an essential nutrient our body needs to build red blood cells, as well as for other cellular functions that give us energy. Many people don’t get enough vitamin B2 from their diets – which is why they may choose to start taking Vitamin B2 supplements.

Vitamin B2 Health Benefits

Vitamin B2 has a range of health benefits– from boosting our energy, to serving as an antioxidant.

Below is a list of the possible benefits we’ve found:

Vitamin B2 Could Aid Weight Loss

The body uses vitamin B2 to metabolize food for energy [1]. When the body is vitamin B2 deficient, it is unable to properly digest the molecules found in carbs, protein and fat foods. Vitamin B2 helps use these molecules for energy production and ensures healthy metabolism. Through regulating how your body produces and burns energy, your metabolism impacts how fast you are able to lose weight. People with lower metabolism will burn calories slower than those who have a higher metabolism. Plus, low levels of vitamin B2 in the body could lead to under-active thyroid [2] – leading to weight gain and other health problems.

Vitamin B2 Helps Prevent Migraines and Headaches

Research has shown that vitamin B2 plays a key role in the prevention of migraines and headaches [3]. High doses, such as 400mg, are often prescribed to people who suffer from severe migraine attacks. Taking vitamin B2 as a supplement has also been shown to work as a natural preventative headache remedy, which helps reduce the frequency of attacks. It can also help reduce the severity of an attack – as well as its duration.

Vitamin B2 Supports Eye Health

Studies have also found that vitamin B2 can help reduce the risk of certain eye problems, and help prevent disorders like keratoconus, cataracts, and glaucoma [4]. Vitamin B2 drops can also be used to treat glaucoma: they are applied to the corneal surface, allowing the vitamin to penetrate through and strengthen it.

Vitamin B2 is a Powerful Antioxidant

Vitamin B2 acts as a powerful antioxidant [5], which controls damaging free radicals in the body. Free radicals age the body – and can contribute to various diseases when they are uncontrolled. Vitamin B2 plays a key role in the production of glutathione – an antioxidant which kills free radicals as well as detoxes the liver.

Vitamin B2 Has Studies Showing It May Help Prevent Cancer

Studies have shown that vitamin B2 can help prevent certain types of cancer, such as esophageal cancer, colorectal cancer, cervical cancer, and prostate cancer [6]. The exact role of vitamin B2 in cancer prevention hasn’t been determined yet – but researchers think that vitamin B2 can effectively reduce the effects of oxidative stress caused by free radicals, and reduce cancer-producing carcinogens.

The Bottom Line – Vitamin B2 has a range of health benefits, from reducing the risk and severity of migraines to cancer prevention. It plays a key part in various functions in the body – and also acts as an antioxidant. Because of the important role it plays in metabolizing food for energy, vitamin B2 can also contribute to healthy weight loss.   

How To Use Vitamin B2

Whereas researchers are experimenting with higher doses of vitamin B2 for treatments and prevention of various ailments, it is most commonly taken as a dietary supplement, and is often combined with other B vitamins.

The most common methods of taking vitamin B2 are:

  1. As capsules/ tablets
  2. As liquid supplement

The typical dosage amount for vitamin B2 is 1.1mg for females and 1.3mg for males daily. While there is no Upper Intake Levels for vitamin B2, it is recommended that you do not exceed 40mg.

Are There Any Foods That Contain Vitamin B2?

Vitamin B2 is naturally found in a wide range of foods:

  • Meats – beef liver, lamb;
  • Fish – wild salmon; mackerel, eel, and herring;
  • Dairy products – milk, natural yoghurt;
  • Leafy greensspinach, asparagus;
  • Other foods – mushrooms, almonds, sun-dried tomatoes, eggs, wild rice, dried peas, sunflower seeds.

Vitamin B2 Side Effects List

Vitamin B2 is greatly beneficial for the body and its deficiency can lead to various illnesses, there may also be some side effects worth knowing about before you begin taking the supplement.

The potential side effects may be:

  • Yellow-orange color urine
  • Diarrhea

Note: these side effects are possible but may not be the typical user experience.

Is Vitamin B2 Safe?

Generally, vitamin B2 is likely safe for most adults when taken by mouth as a supplement.

Remember, prior to using vitamin B2, you should consult with your doctor if you have any kind of medical condition.

When Should I Not Take Vitamin B2?

  • If you are pregnant and/or breast-feeding: While vitamin B2 is likely safe when taken by mouth by pregnant or breast-feeding women, it is recommended to stick to a safe dose, which is 1.4 mg per day for pregnant women and 1.6 mg per day for breast-feeding women.
  • If you have Hepatitis, Cirrhosis, Billary obstruction: The absorption of vitamin B2 is decreased in people with these conditions.
  • If you have allergies to vitamin B2: People suffering from allergies to vitamin B2 or other B group vitamins shouldn’t take the supplement.

Conclusion

Vitamin B2 is a key nutrient our bodies need for energy production as well as healthy cell growth and functioning. Like the other B group vitamins, Vitamin B2 plays a key role in the production of red blood cells and processes that give our bodies energy. Vitamin B2 deficiency can have a negative effect on our health, and lead to nutritional deficiency.

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Fact Checked


This article has been reviewed and fact-checked by a certified nutritionist, and only uses information from credible academic sources.