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Riboflavin

 

Definition

Riboflavin is a type of B vitamin. It is water soluble, which means it is not stored in the body. You must replenish the vitamin every day.

Alternative Names

Deficiency - vitamin B2; Vitamin B2 deficiency; Diet - riboflavin; Vitamin B2

Function

Riboflavin (vitamin B2) works with the other B vitamins. It is important for body growth and red blood cell production and helps in releasing energy from carbohydrates.

Food Sources

Lean meats, eggs, legumes, nuts, green leafy vegetables, dairy products, and milk provide riboflavin in the diet. Breads and cereals are often fortified with riboflavin.

Because riboflavin is destroyed by exposure to light, foods with riboflavin should not be stored in glass containers that are exposed to light.

Side Effects

Deficiency of riboflavin is not common in the United States because this vitamin is plentiful in the food supply. Symptoms of significant deficiency syndromes include sore throat, swelling of mucous membranes, mouth or lip sores, anemia, and skin disorders.

Because riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin, leftover amounts leave the body through the urine. There is no known poisoning from riboflavin.

Recommendations

Recommended daily allowances (RDAs) are defined as the daily levels of essential nutrients a persons needs.

The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine recommends the following dietary reference intake for riboflavin:

Infants

  • 0 - 6 months: 0.3 milligrams per day (mg/day)
  • 7 - 12 months: 0.4 mg/day

Children

  • 1 - 3 years: 0.5 mg/day
  • 4 - 8 years: 0.6 mg/day
  • 9 - 13 years: 0.9 mg/day

Adolescents and Adults

  • Males age 14 and older: 1.3 mg/day
  • Females age 14 to 18 years: 1.0 mg/day
  • Females age 19 and older: 1.1 mg/day

The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods from the food guide pyramid.

Specific recommendations depend on age, gender, and other factors (such as pregnancy). Women who are pregnant or producing breast milk (lactating) need higher amounts. Ask your health care provider which amount is best for you.

References

Anderson RA. Prescribing antioxidants. In: Rakel, ed. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 103.

Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.

Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.


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Review Date: 3/7/2009
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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