Nutrition Market

Vitamin B2 Supplements

What is Vitamin B2?

Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in various processes in the body. It is one of eight B vitamins and works closely with other B vitamins like B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine) and B12 (cobalamin).

Riboflavin is naturally present in many foods and available as a dietary supplement. It plays a key role in:

The active forms of riboflavin in the body are flavin mononucleotide (FMN) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD). They act as coenzymes for enzymes involved in metabolism.

Why Do We Need Vitamin B2?

Vitamin B2 is essential for:

  • Energy metabolism: Riboflavin is needed to metabolise carbohydrates, fats and proteins for energy. It helps activate vitamin B3, which is also vital for generating energy.
  • Antioxidant activity: As an antioxidant, riboflavin scavenges free radicals and reduces oxidative stress. This protects cells from damage.
  • Iron utilisation: Riboflavin facilitates the transportation and processing of iron in the body for red blood cell production.
  • Healthy vision: Riboflavin maintains eye health. It helps prevent cataracts by protecting eye lens proteins from sunlight damage.
  • Skin and hair health: Riboflavin keeps the skin and hair healthy by promoting collagen production. It may also help reduce acne.
  • Liver function: Riboflavin aids detoxification in the liver by processing toxins and waste products.
  • Growth and development: This vitamin assists in growth, reproduction, and physical development. It promotes proper functioning of the nervous system.

In summary, vitamin B2 is a crucial micronutrient needed for optimal health. Deficiency can lead to symptoms like cracked lips, hair loss and dermatitis.

The recommended dietary intake for riboflavin in Australia is:

Infants 0–6 months 0.3 mg/day
Infants 7–12 months 0.4 mg/day
Children 1–3 years 0.5 mg/day
Children 4–8 years 0.6 mg/day
Children 9–13 years 0.9 mg/day
Adolescents 14-18 years 1.3 mg/day
Adults 1.1-1.3 mg/day
Pregnant women 1.4 mg/day
Breastfeeding women 1.6 mg/day

Higher doses may be recommended in certain medical conditions like migraine, anaemia, cataracts, etc. Consult a healthcare professional regarding optimal dosage.

Rerefence:  Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand

Signs of Vitamin B2 Deficiency

Riboflavin deficiency is not very common in developed countries. However, certain groups are at a higher risk:

  • Elderly people
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Strict vegetarians
  • People with malabsorption disorders or digestive issues
  • Individuals with alcohol dependence

Deficiency symptoms may include:

  • Cracked or sore lips
  • Red inflammation of the tongue
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Dry, itchy eyes
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Headache and fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Dry, flaky skin and dermatitis

Severe riboflavin deficiency can cause anaemia, impaired growth and neurological disorders. High dose B2 vitamin supplements may be required in deficiency.

Benefits of Vitamin B2 Supplements

Riboflavin supplements may provide benefits in certain cases:

  • Preventing Migraines: Several studies show taking high-dose riboflavin (400 mg) daily may help prevent migraine headaches in adults. It seems to stabilise mitochondrial function and reduce inflammation in migraine sufferers.
  • Managing Anaemia: Riboflavin improves iron absorption and transportation. Supplements may help treat certain types of anaemia when used with iron therapy.
  • Slowing Cataract Progression: Research indicates riboflavin supplements may slow down the development of age-related cataracts. It helps protect eye lens proteins from sunlight damage.
  • Improving Mitochondrial Function: Riboflavin may enhance mitochondrial activity. This is beneficial in chronic fatigue syndrome and other conditions involving mitochondrial dysfunction.
  • Boosting Post-COVID Recovery: Some early research shows riboflavin supplements may aid recovery after COVID-19 infection by improving mitochondrial function.

Always consult a doctor before taking high-dose vitamin B2 supplements for therapeutic uses.

Choosing a Vitamin B2 Supplement

Riboflavin is available as single supplements or in combination formulas like B-complex vitamins. Things to look for when choosing a supplement:

  • Riboflavin: Check the riboflavin (vitamin B2) content per serving. Doses can range from 25-400 mg per tablet/capsule.
  • Form: Riboflavin is available as tablets, capsules, chewables, gummies, liquids and powders. Consider convenience and digestion.
  • Additional nutrients: B-complex supplements provide other B vitamins. Multivitamins contain a range of nutrients.
  • Third party testing: Opt for brands that have been independently tested for purity and potency.
  • Safety certifications: Australian supplements should meet TGA and GMP quality standards.
  • Reputation: Choose reputable manufacturers that produce high-quality products.
  • Cost: Compare products and prices from different brands to get good value.

Talk to your healthcare practitioner about the right type and dosage of riboflavin supplement for your needs.

Are Vitamin B2 Supplements Safe?

Riboflavin is considered very safe at recommended dosages. No serious side effects are reported with up to 200 mg daily.

Higher amounts can cause diarrhea and increased urination in some people due to riboflavin’s bright yellow colour. This is generally harmless.

Riboflavin injections may result in allergic reactions in rare cases.

Supplements are contraindicated in certain genetic conditions that impair flavin metabolism like glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency.

Consult a doctor before giving riboflavin supplements to children or if you have any medical condition.

Vitamin B2 Interactions

Some important riboflavin interactions to know about include:

  • Antidepressants: Riboflavin may interact with MAOIs like phenelzine and tranylcypromine.
  • Antipsychotic drugs: Chlorpromazine levels may increase with riboflavin.
  • Antibiotics: Riboflavin can decrease tetracycline absorption. Space out doses by 2-3 hours.
  • Anticonvulsants: Riboflavin may reduce blood levels of the anticonvulsant phenytoin. Monitoring may be required.
  • Photosensitizing drugs: Riboflavin may increase sun sensitivity from medications like retinoids and thiazides.

Always inform your healthcare provider about riboflavin supplements to avoid interactions.


Can you get too much vitamin B2?

A: Riboflavin is considered very safe even at high doses. Amounts up to 200 mg daily generally do not cause side effects in most people. Excess amounts are excreted in urine.

Is vitamin B2 vegan?

A: Riboflavin can be obtained from plant sources, but strict vegetarians and vegans are at higher risk of deficiency. Vegetable sources provide lower amounts compared to meat and dairy products. Vegan supplements are widely available.

When should you take vitamin B2 morning or night?

A: The timing does not matter much since riboflavin does not cause drowsiness or affect sleep. It’s best taken with food to enhance absorption. For convenience, you can take B2 supplements in the morning or with your largest meal.

Does vitamin B2 help with weight loss?

A: There is no direct link between riboflavin and weight loss. However, by helping convert nutrients to energy and supporting thyroid function, B2 helps maintain a healthy metabolism which is important for managing weight.

Does vitamin B2 help hair growth?

A: Yes, riboflavin plays a role in hair health and growth. It helps the body produce collagen that gives structure to hair. Deficiency can lead to hair loss, while supplements may promote growth in those lacking B2.

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