Vitamin B-2, more commonly known as riboflavin, supports the health of your nervous system and helps produce red blood cells. It also aids in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism and acts as an antioxidant by preventing free radicals from damaging DNA and cellular tissue. Without adequate vitamin B-2, you're at risk of developing cataracts, cancer and heart disease, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. While most people get enough vitamin B-2 from their diet, the elderly and alcoholics have a higher risk of deficiency.
Choose Low- or Nonfat Dairy
Although fortified bread, flour and breakfast cereals may contain as much as 50 percent of an adult's recommended dietary allowance of vitamin B-2, dairy products like milk are one of the richest natural sources of the nutrient. A 1-cup serving of nonfat milk contains approximately 0.45 milligram of vitamin B-2, an amount that supplies 35 percent of a man's 1.3-milligram requirement and 41 percent of a woman's 1.1-milligram RDA. Vitamin B-2 is destroyed by light exposure; to get the most from your milk, avoid purchasing it in clear containers and keep it out of light as much as possible.
Sneak in Some Almonds
Each 1-ounce serving of almonds contains about 0.32 milligram of vitamin B-2. This would supply over 24 percent of a man's daily required intake and fulfill nearly 30 percent of a woman's recommended intake. For a quick snack or breakfast that can provide over half of the vitamin B-2 you need for the day, mix unsalted, dry-roasted almonds into a container of nonfat plain Greek yogurt. Almond butter is also a source of vitamin B-2, but it contains far less than the whole nuts, with 0.15 milligram in 1 tablespoon.
One hard-boiled egg contains 0.26 milligram of vitamin B-2, or 20 percent of the amount a man should have daily and almost 24 percent of a woman's vitamin B-2 needs per day. Healthy adults should limit themselves to no more than four whole eggs per week to keep their cholesterol intake low, recommends the National Institutes of Health. If you have high blood cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure or a history of heart disease or stroke, UCSF Medical Center's Dr. William Grossman says you should limit yourself to two eggs per week.
Reach for Leafy Greens
Dark green, leafy vegetables are a good source of vitamin B-2. Spinach is a particularly good source; it supplies 16 percent of a man's vitamin B-2 RDA and 19 percent of a woman's daily requirement, with 0.21 milligram of B-2 in each cooked 1/2-cup serving. Vitamin B-2 is water-soluble: When foods containing vitamin B-2 are exposed to water, much of the vitamin is lost. To maximize the amount you obtain from greens like spinach, avoid boiling the vegetable and steam it instead. If you do cook the greens in water, you can still get the lost vitamin B-2 by using the liquid in soups or as stock.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin)
- Linus Pauling Institute: Riboflavin
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nutrient Lists - Nutrient: Riboflavin (mg)
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Almonds
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Yogurt, Greek, Plain, Nonfat
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Almond Butter, Plain, Without Salt Added
- MedlinePlus: Protein in Diet
- UCSF Medical Center: FAQ - Heart Disease
- Food Network: How to Prevent Vitamin Loss When Cooking Vegetables