Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in many processes within your body.

It is found in a wide variety of foods, including dairy products, eggs, green vegetables and fortified grains and cereals.

Riboflavin helps the body to break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins and to convert them into energy.

It also helps with red blood cell production and the formation of antibodies.

In addition, It helps to protect the eyes from damage caused by ultraviolet light.

A deficiency in this vitamin can cause a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, anemia, skin problems and eye disorders.

Eating a balanced diet with a variety of foods is the best way to ensure that you are getting enough Vitamin B2.

Food Sources of Vitamin B2

It is found in a wide variety of foods, so it is usually easy to get enough of it in your diet.

Here is a list of food sources of Vitamin B2:

  • Dairy products such as yogurt, milk and cheese
  • Eggs
  • Lean meats like chicken and turkey
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale
  • Fortified cereals and grains
  • Mushrooms
  • Almonds
  • Organ meats like liver
  • Fish like trout and salmon
  • Avocados
  • Dried fruits
  • Fortified soy products
  • Fortified breads and grains

Health Benefits of Vitamin B2

Riboflavin plays a key role in the body’s energy metabolism and the production of red blood cells.

Here are some of the health benefits of Vitamin B2:

  • It helps to maintain healthy skin, eyes and nervous system
  • Helps to convert carbohydrates, proteins and fats into energy
  • It helps to produce red blood cells and antibodies that fight infection
  • Helps to protect against free radical damage, which can lead to cell damage and disease
  • It helps to protect against migraine headaches
  • Helps to regulate hormones and boost the immune system
  • It helps fetal development
  • Helps reduce homocysteine levels

For those who don’t get enough Vitamin B2 in their diet, supplements are available.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 1.1 milligrams per day for adults aged 19 and older.

This amount increases to 1.3 milligrams for pregnant women and 1.4 milligrams for breastfeeding women.

Symptoms of Vitamin B2 Deficiency

A deficiency in vitamin B2 can lead to a number of symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Cracking and redness around the corners of the mouth
  • Swollen and sensitive tongue
  • Sore throat and difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Skin rashes and dermatitis
  • Eye irritation and sensitivity to light
  • Anemia
  • Hair loss
  • Nausea and digestive problems
  • Seizures in extreme cases
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Muscle weakness

A deficiency in vitamin B2 can be easily treated with a multivitamin or a supplement that is specifically formulated with riboflavin.


Some of the most common causes of vitamin B2 deficiency include:

  • A diet that is low in dairy, meat, eggs, nuts, and green leafy vegetables
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Certain medications such as antibiotics and anticonvulsants
  • Gastrointestinal conditions such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease
  • Malabsorption syndromes such as cystic fibrosis or pancreatic insufficiency
  • Certain genetic disorders
  • Age-related decline in absorption of nutrients
  • Long-term use of oral contraceptives


Diagnosis is mostly clinical.

The primary symptom of vitamin B2 deficiency is fatigue and weakness, although other symptoms such as sore throat, cracked lips and redness of the eyes can also be present.

In order to diagnose vitamin B2 deficiency, a doctor will typically order a blood test to measure the amount of riboflavin in the bloodstream.

If the level is low, treatment may include taking vitamin B2 supplements or making dietary changes to increase intake of the vitamin.

Also, a random urine test can be ordered by your doctor to measure urinary excretion of riboflavin.

In addition, a doctor may recommend lifestyle changes such as exercising more and getting more sleep in order to improve overall health and reduce fatigue.


If you suspect that you might have a vitamin B2 deficiency, talk your your doctor. They will likely recommend taking supplements containing vitamin B2.

You should also make sure that you eat foods rich in vitamin B2. These include whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and fish.

Sometimes riboflavin may be administered intravenously, depending on your medical condition.

Genetics and Riboflavin Deficiency

A gene called MTHFR is responsible for encoding an enzyme that helps the body process and absorb vitamin B2.

People with certain genetic mutations of this gene may have difficulty converting food sources of B2 into an active form that the body can use. This can lead to a deficiency of vitamin B2 even if the person is eating foods that contain the vitamin.

Other genetic mutations of the MTHFR gene can also lead to decreased levels of vitamin B2 in the bloodstream, even if the person is taking B2 supplements.

It’s important to talk to your doctor if you think genetics may be a factor in your B2 deficiency. They can help you determine if a genetic test is warranted and suggest ways to manage your deficiency.


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Sources: Medical News Today, National Library of Medicine (1, 2, 3), Mount Sinai, MSD Manual, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Verywell Fit and ScienceDirect.

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