Published: 10/22/2014 - Updated: 03/08/2020
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei, PhD
Vitamin B2 was given its name because it contains factors that promote development, one of which was isolated and turned out to be a yellow pigment. This pigment is now known as riboflavin. Riboflavin is one of vitamin B2’s names, which isn’t exactly correct, as riboflavin is a pigment (belonging to the group of yellow fluorescent pigments known as flavins).
Vitamin B2 is a yellow hydrosoluble nutrient and is extremely important in the body. It is easily absorbed, and the basic health functions in the body are:
- Plays an important role in the metabolism of energy.
- Plays a part in enzymatic processes related to cellular respiration in tissue oxidation, as well as synthesis of fatty acids.
- It is necessary for health and the skin, as well for mucous membranes, due to its oxygenating activity.
- It is indispensable for good vision and corneal health.
What causes vitamin B2 deficiency?
If your tongue looks magenta or purple, it’s quite likely that you are deficient in vitamin B2. This discoloration happens due to pooled blood that becomes retained in taste buds. Vitamin B2 deficiency also causes:
- Sensitivity to the sun’s rays, only being able to work properly with a lot of light.
- During serious deficiency, the eyes become watery, the eyelids burn and become irritated. They sometimes burn and have red blood vessels in them (they become red).
- The skin begins to show tiny, red blood vessels, especially in the cheeks, under the eyes, in the jaw or nose. These tiny veins can sometimes disappear after three or four weeks of having included a sufficient amount of vitamin B2 in your diet.
- The skin becomes oily, especially around the nose, forehead, and chin (the “T” area in the face).
- Small fissures can form in the eyes, which could secrete an oily substance that causes the eyelashes to stick together.
- The eyes can develop cataracts.
- If someone’s diet completely lacks this vitamin, they can become blind.
- It could affect the lips, which grow rough, chapped, and could even begin to look smaller. Cracked lips could also indicate a lack of vitamin B2.
- This deficiency could cause slow healing.
- The individual feels constantly fatigued.
How do I consume enough vitamin B2?
- The more calories consumed, the more necessary this vitamin becomes.
- Sufficient amounts of this vitamin in the body could be severely affected in individuals with careless diets or poorly balanced diets, as well as in alcoholics, diabetics, people with hyperthyroidism, those who are excessively physically active, people under a lot of stress, intense heat, or people who use drugs and a lot of medications.
- Because this vitamin is sensitive to sunlight and to certain treatments (like milk pasteurization, which could make it lose 20% of its content), it should be consumed in its whole state, and not exposed to sunlight.
You must keep in mind that this vitamin is not an isolated vitamin, but forms part of a structure of several enzymes. These enzymes are primarily made up of amino acids in the protein part of enzymes.
However, there are some foods that fulfill these requirements, like homemade yogurt, brewer’s yeast, and green vegetables after light and soft cooking.
Other foods that contain it are:
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Legumes like lentils, beans, etc.
- Soy derived products
- Brewer’s yeast
- Whole grains
- Walnuts and almonds
- Milk and cheeses (even though these products are inconvenient in that they are heavy and hard for the stomach to digest).
You must keep in mind that riboflavin is not stored in the body, and any excess is eliminated through the urine.
Recommended percentages of vitamin B2:
In children: 0.4 mg
Adults: 1.4 mg
You must keep an eye on proper consumption of this vitamin for people with skin problems, those who are obese, have high cholesterol, and vision problems like watery and red eyes. Children should eat a healthy diet in order to prevent this deficiency during growth.
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