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Riboflavin (Vitamin B-2)

General Description

Riboflavin is easily recognizable by its yellow color and unpleasant taste; the distinct taste of most multi-vitamin formulas are due to their riboflavin content. Riboflavin is found in many foods, and deficiencies of this vitamin are relatively rare.

Food Sources

Good sources of this vitamin are yogurt, cheese, eggs, meat, poultry, broccoli, avocados, currants, and nuts. Cereals and grains are often enriched with B-2. Milk is also a good source of riboflavin, however pasteurization often depletes about 10 percent of this nutrient. Also, riboflavin is broken down by sunlight; therefore, it is important to keep riboflavin-rich foods away from direct sunlight. Storing milk and foods in opaque containers can help prevent vitamin B-2 break down.

Health Applications

  • Energy
  • Metabolism
  • Athletic performance

Functions and Uses

Vitamin B-2 is involved in the process of energy production. It assists in the synthesis and oxidation of fatty acids and in the oxidation of amino acids and glucose. These processes are crucial to the body's production of energy. Riboflavin is also involved in thyroid hormone metabolism, thus influencing the body's metabolism. It also helps activate other vitamins such as vitamin B-6 and folic acid.


The RDI for vitamin B-2 is 1.7 mg. This nutrient is often included in multivitamin supplements in amounts from 20-25 mg. Riboflavin works in conjunction with thiamin, niacin, and pyridoxine. If taken in supplemental form, these B-complex vitamins should be included to maximize any potential benefits. Riboflavin is considered nontoxic. Excess vitamin B-2 is not absorbed and passes harmlessly out of the body through urine. Bright yellow urine often indicates that high levels of riboflavin are passing through the body.