Vitamin B2: Role, sources, and deficiency

Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is one of eight B vitamins that are essential for human health. It can be found in grains, plants, and dairy products. It is crucial for breaking down food components, absorbing other nutrients, and maintaining tissues.

Vitamin B2 is a water-soluble vitamin, so it dissolves in water. All vitamins are either water soluble or fat soluble. Water-soluble vitamins are carried through the bloodstream, and whatever is not needed passes out of the body in urine.

People need to consume vitamin B2 every day, because the body can only store small amounts, and supplies go down rapidly.

Riboflavin occurs naturally in some foods, added to others, and it can be taken as supplements. Most of it is absorbed in the small intestine.


[cruciferous vegetables contain B2]
Cruciferous vegetables are a source of vitamin B2, but steam them rather than boiling them.

Vitamin B2 helps break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It plays a vital role in maintaining the body’s energy supply.

Riboflavin helps convert carbohydrates into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The human body produces ATP from food, and ATP produces energy as the body requires it. The compound ATP is vital for storing energy in muscles.

Along with vitamin A, vitamin B is essential for:

Maintaining the mucous membranes in the digestive system

Maintaining a healthy liver

Converting tryptophan into niacin, an amino acid

Keeping the eyes, nerves, muscles and skin healthy

Absorbing and activating iron, folic acid, and vitamins B1, B3 and B6

Hormone production by the adrenal glands

Preventing the development of cataracts

Fetal development, especially in areas where vitamin deficiency is common

Some research suggests that vitamin B2 may help prevent cataracts and migraine headache, but further studies are needed to confirm this.

Other studies have found that in children with autism, supplements of vitamins B2, B6, and magnesium appear to reduce the levels of abnormal organic acids in the urine.

[meat is a source of riboflavin]
Meat, fish, and dairy products provide vitamin B2.

Fish, meat, and poultry, such as turkey, chicken, beef, kidneys, and liver


Dairy products






Fortified cereals


Lima beans, navy beans, and peas








Sweet potatoes

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, dandelion greens, and watercress

Whole-grain breads, enriched breads, and wheat bran

Yeast extract

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