Vitamin B2 - also called riboflavin or lactoflavin - plays an important role in the body in the transformation of food into energy. The water-soluble vitamin is found in animal foods such as meat or fish, but also in vegetable products such as yellow peppers or peas. While vitamin B2 deficiency is more common in developing countries, it is rare in Germany. Typical symptoms that indicate such a deficiency are torn corners of the mouth, gingivitis and a general feeling of fatigue.
Effect of riboflavin in the body
Riboflavin is a yellowish plant pigment that can be absorbed by humans and animals via the small intestine. Therefore, vitamin B2 is not only found in plant foods but also in animal foods. From animal foods, vitamin B2 can be absorbed very well by humans.
In our body, vitamin B2 is especially important for the metabolism, as it acts as a building block of various coenzymes. In this way, vitamin B2 helps convert carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy. In addition, it also supports the effects of vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) in the body.
Research is currently exploring whether taking special vitamin B2 supplements can help people suffering from migraine. By taking the vitamin supposedly migraine attacks can be prevented. How high the dose of vitamin B2 must be for this, but so far is still controversial. While sometimes reaching a dose of 100 milligrams, other studies recommend a dose of 400 milligrams.
Vitamin B2: Occurrence in food
Vitamin B2 is found primarily in animal foods such as dairy products, eggs, meat and fish. It is also found in vegetable products, including yellow pepper, broccoli, peas and kale and cereal products.
The daily requirement for vitamin B2 is about 1.5 milligrams. Pregnant women and nursing mothers, smokers, alcoholics and people with diabetes or other metabolic disorders have a slightly higher need. The same applies to high physical activity and high stress. The daily intake of vitamin B2 can be covered by, among other things, the following foods:
- 4 glasses of milk
- 4 eggs
- 50 grams of pork liver
- 150 grams of rye germ
- 230 grams of Camenbert
- 375 grams of cheese
Vitamin B2 is relatively heat stable, but it is extremely sensitive to light. For example, the vitamin is quickly destroyed in transparent milk bottles. Foods with vitamin B2 should therefore always be stored as light-protected as possible.
Symptoms of vitamin B2 deficiency
Vitamin B2 needs to be given to the body on a regular basis because the body can only stock up for about two to six weeks. Since the vitamin is found in many foods, regular intake is usually not a problem. While vitamin B2 deficiency in Germany is relatively rare, it occurs more frequently in developing countries. In Germany, especially risk groups such as seniors, young women and vegans are affected.
Typical symptoms that indicate a vitamin B2 deficiency are torn corners of the mouth, sore throat, gingivitis, skin problems and a general sense of fatigue and tiredness. More serious signs may include vision problems, growth disorders, neurological disorders, and anemia.
In the case of a pronounced vitamin B2 deficiency, this can also lead to a deficiency supply with other vitamins. Because vitamin B2 influences the metabolism of vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folic acid and vitamin K. The content of riboflavin in the blood can be determined by means of an EGRAC test (erythrocyte glutathione reductase activation).
Overdose of vitamin B2
So far, no adverse health effects have been observed due to vitamin B2 overdose. If the vitamin is ingested in large quantities, it is usually simply excreted through the kidneys again. In some cases diarrhea and orange coloration of the urine occurred at very high doses.