Riboflavin or vitamin B2 is a water-soluble vitamin responsible for maintaining energy levels, blood cell health, and metabolism. This essential vitamin also acts as an antioxidant. Further evidence of its importance can be found in the many issues that can arise from a vitamin B2 deficiency, including anemia, fatigue, and digestive problems.
Maintains even energy levels
Vitamin B2 plays a major role in metabolism. It is needed for turning the energy from the food we eat—carbohydrates, fats, and proteins—into ATP, which is the energy our bodies use for the brain, nerve, digestive, and hormone functions. Riboflavin helps to maintain a healthy metabolism so that the macro-nutrients from our diets are used in a proper way for lasting energy and healthy functioning of all systems in the body.
Supports healthy vision
Riboflavin is necessary to maintain healthy eyes and eyesight. It is used to protect an important antioxidant found in the eye called glutathione. Eating foods rich in vitamin B2, like almonds, milk, lamb, and spinach, can reduce the risk of developing eye diseases, such as cataracts or glaucoma.
Prevents headaches and migraines
Riboflavin is shown to be helpful in reducing the intensity and incidence of headaches and migraines. If you suffer from headaches or migraines, you may be instructed to take vitamin B2 supplements to prevent, shorten, or reduce the intensity of symptoms.
Vitamin B2 acts as an antioxidant in the body—meaning, it protects healthy cells from free radical damage and promotes the reproduction of healthy cells. Free radicals are harmful substances in the body that damage healthy cell DNA, causing mutated cells to reproduce—also known as cancer. Riboflavin also increases nutrient absorption by maintaining a healthy lining in the digestive system, allowing other nutrients and antioxidants to do their jobs in supporting a healthy immune system. Research shows that riboflavin is especially effective in protecting the body from colon cancer, rectal cancer, esophageal cancer, cervical cancer, and prostate cancer.
Anemia is a condition in which the body lacks red blood cells. Red blood carries oxygen throughout the body to each organ and all of the body’s tissues. Vitamin B2 plays a role in red blood cell production, and deficiency in B2 can lead to anemia and sickle cell anemia. That means that the tissues and organs in the body are not receiving enough oxygen, leading to fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and other symptoms.
Increases nutrient absorption
For your body to properly absorb and make use of all of the nutrients it receives from food sources, you need to have healthy levels of vitamin B2. Riboflavin promotes a healthy lining in the digestive system, which is the first step to nutrient absorption into the bloodstream. In addition to that, vitamin B2 is used to change vitamin B6 and folate into forms that the body can use. It is also a necessary component in the processing of iron in the body. Vitamin B2 also reduces homocysteine levels in the body. Homocysteine is an amino acid that, when found in excess, can cause blood clots and narrowing and hardening of the arteries.
Needed for a healthy pregnancy
Research shows that pregnant women who are deficient in vitamin B2 may have an increased risk of developing preeclampsia. This is a dangerous condition that causes high blood pressure during pregnancy. Riboflavin is an essential nutrient for a healthy pregnancy. A lack of riboflavin can cause anemia and other health conditions in the mother.
Boosts hair and skin health
As you age, your collagen levels decrease. This causes your skin to become thin and less elastic, leading to wrinkles and lines. Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in the body. It helps to make up your hair, skin, and nails. Vitamin B2 helps to maintain the hair and skin by keeping collagen levels up, preventing early aging and brittle hair. It can even reverse the inflammation of the skin and heal cracked and sore lips.
Maintains a healthy nervous system
All B vitamins are important for maintaining the health and functioning of the nervous system, and vitamin B2 is no exception. Vitamin B6 is the key vitamin in making neurotransmitters that carry signals from one nerve cell to another. Since vitamin B2 turns vitamin B6 into a form the body could use, without vitamin B2, we would lack an essential vitamin for nerve health. It is critical to get enough riboflavin to support the functioning of other essential vitamins in the body.