Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B-2, is an essential vitamin available in a variety of foods, both animal-based and plant-based. Riboflavin serves a number of important purposes in your body, helping enzymes perform functions of metabolism and protecting your body from the damage caused by free radicals. Requirements for the vitamin range from 1.1 to 1.6 mg/day, depending on factors such as age and gender.
In your body, riboflavin is critical to the breakdown of dietary carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy you can use. Without adequate riboflavin in the diet, the enzymes involved in energy production do not function optimally, which can lead to fatigue, according to the textbook “Biochemistry.” In addition, riboflavin helps your body break down drugs and toxins.
Riboflavin also plays an important role in saving your body from damage caused by free radicals, which are reactive oxygen molecules that are linked with premature aging and many chronic diseases, including cancer. Riboflavin serves as a component of the enzyme glutathione reductase, which protects your body from free radical damage.
Enhanced Oxygen Delivery
Riboflavin also interacts with iron, which is used to synthesize hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a major component of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. By consuming riboflavin-rich foods, you can keep hemoglobin levels high, assuring that your body gets all the oxygen-rich blood necessary to perform the daily functions of life.
Riboflavin deficiency is not associated with a major human disease, but it can produce a variety of unpleasant symptoms, including dermatitis, or dry, itchy skin, and cheilosis, which is fissuring at the corners of the mouth. Alcoholics and anorexics are at risk of riboflavin deficiency, and athletes and laborers might have increased requirements, owing to their higher levels of activity. Riboflavin-rich foods include milk, cheddar cheese, almonds and spinach.
- Linus Pauling Institute: Riboflavin
- "Biochemistry"; Richard Harvey; 2010