Vitamin B2

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Vitamin B2 is also known as Riboflavin.It is a water soluble vitamin found in the food sources milk, liver, kidney, cheese, leafy green vegetables, fish, eggs, yoghurt and beans. The Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) for B2 is 1.1 mg/day for women and 1.3 mg/day for men.

What is it needed for?

Vitamin B2 aids in growth and reproduction, helps to promote healthy hair and nails, eye health and like the other B vitamins, it is essential for energy metabolism. Riboflavin contributes to the maintenance of normal skin and red blood cells and contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.


Deficiency occurs in individuals who have a poor or inadequate diet, particularly children in developing countries. Other groups prone to riboflavin deficiency include the elderly, those who regularly ‘diet’ or take laxative medications, those with hypothyroidism and women who exercise excessively.Deficiency signs and symptoms include dry and cracked skin, sensitivity to bright light, itching, dizziness, insomnia, slow learning, weakness, sore throat, mouth, lips and tongue.


Migraine Headaches-Riboflavin may play a role in the prevention of migraine headaches according to scientists (1). A randomized trial involving 55 adults with migraine were given 400 mg/day riboflavin. The study showed the frequency of migraine attacks was reduced by two per month compared to placebo (2). Furthermore, a retrospective study in 41 children given 200 or 400 mg/day riboflavin over a period of 3 to 6 months showed a significant reduction in both frequency and severity of migraine headaches during treatment (3). Riboflavin is an approved and recommended method of treatment by The Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology (4). Furthermore, the Canadian Headache Society recommends 400 mg/day riboflavin for migraine headache prevention (5).

Cancer-According to experts in the field, Riboflavin may play a role in the prevention of DNA damage due to its role as a coenzyme combined with other enzymes (6). The Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study which spanned over 15 years involving 41,514 current, former, and never smokers who received 2.5mg/day showed a significant inverse association between dietary riboflavin intake and lung cancer risk in current smokers (7).

Our take on how Vitamin B2 can help you based upon EU approved claims;

Digestive support– Vitamin B2 contributes to normal energy yielding metabolism. Vitamin B2 is required for the correct absorption and metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and proteins, making it valuable for people whose diets are high in these nutrients. It helps support correct growth and development via the correct use of these nutrients.

Fatigue and tiredness– Vitamin B2 contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism. This suggests that a deficiency may be a factor in cases of tiredness and fatigue, and so a supplement may help prevent this. This may also be of value to those participating in sports to ensure the correct functioning of their energy metabolism and maximize performance. Vitamin B2 also directly contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

Stress and related symptoms– Vitamin B2 contributes to the normal function of the nervous system. This means it may help support cases of stress and low mood. Many B vitamins are thought to work together in this respect.

Safety and side effects

Because riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin, excess amounts are excreted from the body. No toxic or adverse reactions to riboflavin have been identified in humans of doses up to 400mg per day. Discoloration of urine can occur at high doses however this is considered harmless. There is no established Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Riboflavin.


  1. Di Lorenzo C, Pierelli F, Coppola G, Grieco GS, Rengo C, Ciccolella M, et al. Mitochondrial DNA haplogroups influence the therapeutic response to riboflavin in migraineurs. Neurology 2009;72:1588-94.
  2. Schoenen J, Jacquy J, Lenaerts M. Effectiveness of high-dose riboflavin in migraine prophylaxis. A randomized controlled trial. Neurology 1998;50:466-70.
  3. Condo M, Posar A, Arbizzani A, Parmeggiani A. Riboflavin prophylaxis in pediatric and adolescent migraine. J Headache Pain 2009;10:361-5
  4. Holland S, Silberstein SD, Freitag F, Dodick DW, Argoff C, Ashman E. Evidence-based guideline update: NSAIDs and other complementary treatments for episodic migraine prevention in adults: report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society. Neurology 2012;78:1346-53
  5. Pringsheim T, Davenport W, Mackie G, Worthington I, Aube M, Christie SN, et al. Canadian Headache Society guideline for migraine prophylaxis. Can J Neurol Sci 2012;39: S1-59.
  6. Rivlin RS. Riboflavin. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. London and New York: Informa Healthcare; 2010:691-9.
  7. Bassett JK, Hodge AM, English DR, Baglietto L, Hopper JL, Giles GG, et al. Dietary intake of B vitamins and methionine and risk of lung cancer. Eur J Clin Nutr 2012;66:182-7