Vitamin B2 is a water-soluble and heat-stable nutrient used by the body to metabolize fats, proteins, and carbs for energy.
Riboflavin also is known as vitamin B2 has a yellow pigment that can turn the urine yellow as excess B2 is excreted in the urine.
Vitamin B2 is found in many foods yet not in high amounts therefore vitamin B2 deficiency can be a common deficiency especially in vegans or vegetarians.
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Some of the highest foods with vitamin B2 include organ meats, animal meats, and milk. Anyone who is a vegan or vegetarian with dairy intolerance will want to ensure that they are getting an adequate intake of vitamin B2 rich foods through plant-based food sources of vitamin B2.
Some common symptoms of Vitamin B2 deficiency include:
-cracks or sores at the corners of the mouth (cheilosis)
-eye redness or sensitivity to light
-burning eyes or dry sandy feeling of the eyes
-nervous tissue damage
-inflammation and redness of the tongue
-redness and swelling of the lining of the mouth
-dry yet moist and oily scaly skin inflammation (seborrheic dermatitis)
-the formation of blood vessels in the clear covering of the eye (vascularization of the eye)
Primary Benefits of Vitamin B2 include:
-decreased cardiovascular risk
-boosts antioxidant status
-helps to prevent the formation of blood vessels in the eye
-helps to make energy in the body and prevent fatigue
-prevents visual problems, eye fatigue, burning eyes and cataracts
-used for skin conditions such as dermatitis
-may help prevent headaches and migraines in some individuals
-required for the metabolism of histamine thus B2 may help to reduce symptoms of histamine intolerance.
Vitamin B2 is a critical nutrient that is a co-factor for the MTHFR gene and the recycling of oxidized B12 through the MTRR gene so that homocysteine can be converted into methionine.
Methionine goes on to produce the methyl donor SAMe which is needed for another 200 plus enzymes such as the PEMT gene to produce phosphatidylcholine to prevent fatty liver and the HNMT enzyme to metabolize histamine.
Vitamin B2 is also involved in the recycling of oxidized glutathione back into its reduced form. Glutathione is one of the body's primary antioxidants that is needed to prevent grey hair, reduce inflammation, and convert hydrogen peroxide into water.
Inflammation inhibits methylation thus Vitamin B2 helps to reduce inflammation and supports the recycling of homocysteine back into methionine. Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with increased cardiovascular risk.
Vitamin B2 has also been shown to reduce the number of headache days, the attack frequency and severity of migraines in some individuals with benefits most notable after 3 months of taking 400 mg of riboflavin a day.
Migraines have been associated with increased levels of homocysteine which vitamin B2 helps to metabolize.
Impaired mitochondrial oxygen metabolism may also play a role in the pathology of migraine headaches. Since FAD which is the active form of vitamin B2 is a part of the electron transport chain in the mitochondria for energy production it has been researched for migraine prevention due to mitochondrial dysfunction.
Vitamin B2 supplementation has also been shown to improve muscle strength and exercise tolerance as vitamin B2 is involved in the B-oxidation of fatty acids which is a catabolic process in the mitochondria.
A defect in this process causes the fatty acid accumulation in the skeletal muscles leading to lipid storage that is characterized by muscle pain, muscle weakness, and exercise intolerance. These symptoms were shown to improve by eating a low-fat diet with vitamin B2 supplementation.
As vitamin B2 plays an important role in the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, B2 is needed to boost energy levels and prevent fatigue due to vitamin B2 deficiencies.
Symptoms of histamine intolerance can also be connected to a riboflavin deficiency as vitamin B2 is a nutrient less spoken about involved in methylation and the production of SAMe.
SAMe is a methyl donor which is a cofactor for the HNMT enzyme that metabolizes intracellular histamine into N-methylhistamine which is further broken down by the MAO B gene in which FAD (the active form of B2) is the co-factor for.
If you have symptoms of histamine intolerance and nothing else has worked to improve your symptoms vitamin B2 is a nutrient to consider supplementing with or to increase dietary foods high in Vitamin B2.
The recommended daily intake for vitamin B2 is 1.3 mg for men and 1.1 mg for women.
While eating foods high in vitamin B2 is the best way to boost your nutritional status of b2 some people will benefit from extra supplementation if they show signs of vitamin B2 deficiency or are vegans.
Foods high in vitamin B2 include:
Yeast extract (vegemite)
Organ meats such as beef, chicken, moose and turkey liver
Cheese (goat, brie, feta, cheddar)
Eating foods high in B2 is super important to maintain energy levels, antioxidant status, eye health, the metabolism of histamine, optimal methylation, skin health, and much more.
I used Ancestry DNA and Strategene to run my genetic report and when I got my results back and looked at my genetics vitamin B2 came up as the co-factor for several different genes in which I had SNP’s in such as the MTHFR gene, MTRR gene involved in methylation and the MAO B gene involved in the metabolism of histamine.
Funny enough as I write this article, I feel like I am writing this for myself as I have had symptoms of vitamin B2 deficiency in the past such as extreme burning and tearing of the eyes and sensitivity to sunlight, dry eyes, cracks in the corner of my mouth and red eyes with vascularization that come and go but seem to be worse after eating high histamine foods.
These symptoms were worse when I was eating a Vegetarian diet and dairy-free diet which makes a lot of sense considering riboflavin is highest in animal products.
Inflammation is something that I have always had to some degree due to various reasons but knowing that vitamin B2 is required for boosting antioxidant status to reduce inflammation is a part of the puzzle and a nutrient that is especially important for me.
If you have symptoms of vitamin B2 deficiency be sure to focus on eating vitamin B2 rich foods and if you are a vegan or vegetarian, you may need to supplement or focus on plant-based sources of vitamin B2.
Staying Healthy with Nutrition by Elson M Haas
Hey! I'm Amber, a nutritional therapy consultant helping people to improve digestion, beat the bloat and lose weight. Sharing weight loss tips, gut health tips and whole food recipes that are gluten free. Grab your freebie below:)
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