Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Vitamin B2, which works with the other B vitamins, helps convert food into fuel.

What are its health benefits?

Vitamin B2’s (also known as riboflavin) major function is to metabolise protein, fats and carbohydrates. It also helps maintain mucous membranes in the digestive tract and is important for the proper formation of red blood cells and antibodies.

Cell growth relies on riboflavin, which is why it’s so good for the skin, hair, eyes and connective tissues. Riboflavin has also been linked to healthy reproductive functioning.

Do you have a deficiency?

While a vitamin B2 deficiency (called ariboflavinosis) is rare, it can cause the following symptoms:

  • Sore throat
  • Swollen tongue
  • Cracking skin
  • Dermatitis (inflammation of the skin)
  • Anaemia (a condition where the blood can’t carry enough oxygen to meet the needs of your body)
  • Light-sensitive or bloodshot eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Itching
  • Eyes that become easily tired

Risk groups include the elderly, chronically ill and alcoholics. The body’s ability to absorb riboflavin is also reduced when taking birth control pills.

Find it in these foods

Vitamin B2 is water-soluble, which means that it’s not stored in the body. You need to eat foods rich in riboflavin regularly. These include:

  • Dairy
  • Liver
  • Lean meats
  • Legumes
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Wholegrain cereals
  • Eggs
  • Oily fish

Riboflavin is also destroyed by light, so food sources of riboflavin should not be stored in glass containers exposed to light. 

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

The general guidelines for the recommended daily dosage, according to your age group, is:

  • Infants age 0 - 6 months: 0.3mg
  • 7 - 12 months: 0.4mg
  • Children age 1 - 3 years: 0.5 mg
  • Children age 4 - 8 years: 0.6 mg
  • Children age 9 - 13 years: 0.9 mg
  • Boys/men age 14 and older: 1.3 mg
  • Girls/women age 14 to 18: 1.0 mg
  • Girls/women age 19 and older: 1.1 mg

However, consult with your Clicks pharmacist first regarding the right dosage of daily oral supplements to make up for a vitamin B2 deficiency.

Know the overdose risks

There are no reported side effects, but excessive intake of vitamin B2 will turn your urine bright yellow. More frequent urination and diarrhoea might also point to extreme levels. Toxicity, however, is very rare.

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in February 2015