Diet & Exercise: Essential supplements: Vitamin B2

Published 8:00 am Friday, March 2, 2018

This is the second installment in a series on essential supplements.

Today, I’d like to share information on another key nutrient: vitamin B2. B2, also known as riboflavin, was discovered in 1920, isolated in 1933 and was first made in 1935. Riboflavin is one of eight B vitamins, and because it’s water soluble, our bodies can’t store it.

One of B2’s biggest roles in our bodies is production of energy. This is known as the “electron transport chain,” but that’s just a fancy phrase for using sugars to produce cellular energy.

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This nutrient also helps us utilize fats and amino acids (proteins).

Vitamin B2 has an unusual nutritional trait. It’s bright yellow. In fact, it even fluoresces under black light.

This yellow color doesn’t change when B2 is excreted by the body, so this vitamin turns urine a bright yellow color. Once, while a guest of Pam Stone’s radio show, she commented that after taking a multiple vitamin supplement that contained B2, it looked like she’d swallowed a yellow highlighter (very funny).

Don’t worry though — bright colored urine from vitamin B2 doesn’t mean you’ve taken too much; in fact, I tell clients if they don’t see that bright color, they’ve not taken enough vitamin B2.

Here are a few other benefits of riboflavin:

1: Riboflavin is essential for cellular growth of skin, connective tissues, eyes, hair, skin, nails, mucous membranes, nervous system and immune system.

2: Vitamin B2 is crucial to proper circulation, because it plays a major role in the formation of fresh red blood cells, and antibodies. This, in turn, boosts circulation and oxygenation to organs and tissues in the body.

3: Riboflavin protects our nervous system. In fact, B2 has been shown to help conditions such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, anxiety, numbness and even epilepsy.

4: Vitamin B2 helps keep tissues and mucous membranes, particularly the digestive tract, healthy. It also plays an important role in healing of wounds and tissue repair.

5: Riboflavin helps our bodies absorb nutrients like folic acid, iron, vitamin B1, B3 (niacin), and  B6. Vitamin B2 deficiencies are not very common in western developed countries, but deficiency symptoms include fatigue, anemia, sluggish metabolism, mouth or lip cracks and sores, inflamed mouth or tongue, and nerve damage.

Riboflavin, along with other B vitamins, can usually be found in enriched carbohydrate products including breads, cereals, pastas and granola bars. Rich sources of B2 include eggs, meats and organ meats, dairy products like cheeses, green leafy vegetables, beans and legumes, and nuts and seeds.

Boiling foods loses twice as much riboflavin when compared to other cooking methods, such as steaming.

Recommended dietary allowances for riboflavin include: 7-12 months: 0.4mg, 1-3 years: 0.5mg, 4-8 years: 0.6mg, 9-13 years: 0.9mg, 14-18 years: 1.3mg (pregnancy, lactation, 1.4mg), 19-50 years: 1.3mg (pregnancy, lactation 1.4mg), 50+: 1.3mg.

Since the capacity to be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract is limited, there is no evidence of riboflavin toxicity. Much like vitamin B1 (thiamine), doses of 100mg of riboflavin can safely be taken.

However, B vitamins should be absorbed together, because they work synergistically, or together. In fact, if you take too much of one B vitamin without the others being present, it will actually rob you of B vitamins.   

David Crocker, of Landrum, has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 29 years.