What Is Riboflavin?
Riboflavin is a B vitamin. It is involved in many processes in the body and is necessary for healthy cell growth and function. It can be found in certain foods such as milk, meat, eggs, nuts, enriched flour, and green vegetables. Riboflavin is frequently used in combination with other B vitamins in vitamin B complex products.
Small amounts of riboflavin are present in most animal and plant tissues.
Some people take riboflavin by mouth to prevent low levels of riboflavin (riboflavin deficiency) in the body, for various types of cancer, and for migraine headaches. It is also taken by mouth for acne, muscle cramps, burning feet syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, and blood disorders such as congenital methemoglobinemia and red blood cell aplasia. Some people use riboflavin for eye conditions, including eye fatigue, cataracts, and glaucoma.
Some people also take riboflavin by mouth to maintain healthy hair, skin, and nails, to slow aging, for canker sores, multiple sclerosis, memory loss including Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, burns, liver disease, and sickle cell anemia.
People Use This For
Orally, riboflavin is used for preventing riboflavin deficiency, treating ariboflavinosis, multiple acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase deficiency, red blood cell aplasia, migraine headaches, acne, congenital methemoglobinemia, muscle cramps, malaria, stroke, burning feet syndrome, and carpal tunnel syndrome. It is also used for preventing various types of cancer including cervical, gastric, esophageal, liver, and lung cancer, eye fatigue, cataracts, and glaucoma.
Riboflavin is used for increasing energy levels, boosting immune system function, maintaining healthy hair, skin, mucous membranes, and nails, for slowing aging, canker sores, and for memory loss including Alzheimer’s disease. It is also used for ulcers, boosting athletic performance, promoting healthy reproductive function, burns, hypertension, alcoholism, liver disease, sickle cell disease, multiple sclerosis, treating lactic acidosis induced by nucleoside analog reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) drugs, kwashiorkor, oral leukoplakia, elevated levels of homocysteine, and conditions associated with pregnancy including pre-eclampsia and pregnancy-related iron deficiency.
Is Riboflavin Effective?
Preventing and treating low riboflavin levels (riboflavin deficiency). In adults and children who have too little riboflavin in their body, taking riboflavin by mouth can increase levels of riboflavin in the body.
Cataracts.People who eat more riboflavin as part of their diet seem to have a lower risk of developing cataracts. Also, taking supplements containing riboflavin plus niacin appears to help prevent cataracts.
High amounts of homocysteine in the blood (hyperhomocysteinemia). Taking riboflavin by mouth for 12 weeks decreases levels of homocysteine by up to 40% in some people. Also, taking riboflavin along with folic acid and pyridoxine seems to lower homocysteine levels by 26% in people with high homocysteine levels caused by drugs that are used to prevent seizures.
Migraine headaches. Taking high-dose riboflavin by mouth seems to reduce the number of migraine headache attacks, by about 2 attacks per month. Taking riboflavin in combination with other vitamin sand minerals seems also to reduce the amount of pain experienced during a migraine.
Interactions with Herbs & Supplements
BLOND PSYLLIUM: Psyllium reduces the absorption of supplemental riboflavin in healthy women. It isn’t clear whether this occurs with dietary riboflavin, or whether it’s clinically significant.
BORON: Boric acid can complex with a portion of riboflavin; this effect increases the water solubility of riboflavin. As a result, taking boric acid can cause significant excretion of riboflavin within 24-48 hours of ingestion in humans.
FOLIC ACID: Clinical evidence suggests that supplementation with folic acid 400 mcg daily exacerbates riboflavin deficiency in individuals with the TT genotype for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase.
IRON: Riboflavin supplements may improve the hematological response to iron supplements in some people with anemia. Riboflavin is thought to be involved in mobilizing iron from the storage form ferritin, for heme and globin synthesis, but does not seem to significantly influence iron absorption. The effect of riboflavin on iron utilization is probably only significant in people with riboflavin deficiency.
LIKELY SAFE …when used orally and appropriately. Riboflavin has Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status in the US. Riboflavin 400 mg daily has been taken for up to 3 months, and 10 mg daily has been taken safely for up to 6 months. Due to high-quality safety evidence, the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) has currently not established tolerable upper intake levels (UL) for riboflavin but advises against excessive intake.
CHILDREN: LIKELY SAFE … when used orally and appropriately at the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 0.3 mg per day for infants up to 6 months old, 0.4 mg per day for infants 6-12 months old, 0.5 mg per day for children 1-3 years old, 0.6 mg per day for children 4-8 years old, 0.9 mg per day for children 9-13 years old, 1.3 mg per day for males 14-18 years old, and 1.0 mg per day for females 14-18.
PREGNANCY AND LACTATION: LIKELY SAFE …when used orally and appropriately at the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 1.4 mg per day for pregnant women and 1.6 mg per day for lactating women. POSSIBLY SAFE …when used orally and appropriately at higher doses, short-term. Clinical evidence suggests that riboflavin 15 mg is safe when taken once every 2 weeks for up to 10 weeks.
What Other Names Is Riboflavin Known By?
B Complex Vitamin, Complexe de Vitamines B, Flavin, Flavine, Lactoflavin, Lactoflavine, Riboflavin 5′ Phosphate, Riboflavina, Riboflavine, Vitamin B2, Vitamin G, Vitamina B2, Vitamine B2, Vitamine G.