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Riboflavin

General Information

Riboflavin, or vitamin B2, is one of many essential water-soluble vitamins that the body needs from food. It is found in nuts, dairy products, eggs, meat, enriched flour, and green vegetables. Riboflavin helps keep your skin, blood cells, and other parts of your body functioning properly.

Common Name(s)

riboflavin, vitamin B2, B complex vitamin

Scientific Name(s)

Riboflavin, vitamin B2

Scientific Name(s)

Riboflavin is found in many foods. As a supplement, riboflavin is taken by mouth and is usually taken in combination with other B vitamins. It is available is tablets, capsules, chewable tablets or gummies, powders, strips or liquids.

Table 1 lists the usual doses and Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for riboflavin for different age groups. Taking riboflavin supplements with food may help your body absorb the vitamin.

Table 1. Usual doses and RDA for riboflavin

Life stage group

Riboflavin (mg/day)

Usual dose

RDA

Children

1–3 years

0.04–100

0.5

4–8 years

0.6

Adolescent males

9–13 years

0.9

14–18 years

0.08–100

1.3

Adult males

≥19 years

1.3

Adolescent females

9–13 years

0.04–100

0.9

14–18 years

0.08–100

1.0

Adult females

≥19 years

1.1

Pregnancy

14–50 years

1.4

Breast-feeding

14–50 years

1.6

Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What is this product used for?

Riboflavin is used to:

  • help prevent or treat riboflavin deficiency
  • help the body break down fat, protein, and carbohydrates for energy
  • maintain overall good health
  • help in tissue formation

People have used riboflavin for other purposes, such as to reduce migraine frequency, to treat neonatal jaundice, pre-clampsia, and depression, and to help prevent esophageal cancer and cataracts (an eye disorder that causes clouding of the eye, which can lead to vision loss).

There is strong evidence to show that riboflavin is effective for the treatment of neonatal jaundice and the treatment/prevention of riboflavin deficiency. However, evidence is rather weak when riboflavin is used for other conditions, and additional studies are required to confirm its benefits.

Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What else should I be aware of?

Riboflavin appears to be safe for most people when taken at the daily recommended dose. Ribofavin is water-soluble and any excess will be readily excreted out of the body in the urine. Because of this, a common side effect is dark yellow or orange urine. Diarrhea, an increase in urine, light sensitivity, and numbness or a burning sensation have also been reported when taking larger amounts of riboflavin.

Riboflavin is likely safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as long as they do not take more than the daily recommended doses.

The following medications may interact with riboflavin:

  • anticholinergic agents
  • tricyclic antidepressants (when taken in large amounts)
  • phenobarbital (a medication used for seizures)
  • probenecid (a medication used to treat gout)

The following herbs and supplements may also interact with riboflavin:

  • blond psyllium
  • iron supplements

Riboflavin is quickly destroyed when exposed to light, so foods containing riboflavin should be protected from light.

Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.

Source(s)

  1. Health Canada. Natural Health Products Ingredients Database. Riboflavin. [updated 2007 August 16; cited 03 July 2014]. Available from: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=154&lang=eng
  2. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. MedlinePlus. Riboflavin (Vitamin B2). [updated 2012 November 14; cited 2014 July 03]. Available from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/957.html#skip
  3. Natural Database. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Riboflavin (Vitamin B2). [updated 2011 August 30; cited 2011 August 31]. Available from: http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/nd/Search.aspx?cs=&s=ND&pt=100&id=957&ds=
  4. Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary. 8th ed. New York: Oxford University Press Inc; 2010. Probenecid;p.595.
  5. Health Canada. Dietary Reference Intakes: Reference Values for Vitamins. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/ref_vitam_tbl-eng.php. (Accessed 14 June 2012)
  6. Natural Standard – The Authority on Integrative Medicine. Riboflavin. [Accessed 2014 July 03]. Available from: https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases.aspx (subscription required)
  7. Lexicomp. Riboflavin monograph. [Accessed 2014 July 03]. Available from: www.lexi.com (subscription required)

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