Vitamin B2 is a water soluble vitamin, which means it can be dissolved in water. Also called riboflavin, it plays a role in both metabolism and cell function. It is also important for energy production and growth. Vitamin B2 is present in a variety of foods sources, such as mushrooms, green leafy vegetables, calf liver and some vitamin-fortified foods. People who feel they are not getting enough vitamin B2 from their diets can take supplements to boost their intake.
Interestingly, vitamin B2 is named riboflavin because of its coloring. It comes from the Latin root word flavus, which means yellow. Often, the color of this vitamin becomes evident when a person urinates while taking supplements containing significant amounts of riboflavin. Some of the riboflavin often leaves the body in the urine, turning it a bright yellow color.
There are many food sources of vitamin B2. Mushrooms and spinach contain significantly high amounts of the substance, as does calf liver. People may also get riboflavin from such vegetables as romaine lettuce, broccoli, collard, turnip, and mustard greens, and chard. It is also found in desirable amounts in cow’s milk, eggs, and venison.
Vitamin B2 is associated with a number of health benefits. It is said to help prevent or treat such conditions as anemia and carpal tunnel syndrome. It may also prove helpful for preventing and treating cataracts, migraine headaches, and a skin condition called rosacea, which causes redness and bumps. This vitamin is also said to help prevent or treat vaginitis, which is infection or inflammation of the vaginal tissues.
People who consume well-balanced diets can usually get enough vitamin B2 from food sources. Often, however, vegetarians consume less of this vitamin than others because many of the foods they exclude from their diets are rich sources of riboflavin. As such, vegetarians and those who do not consume well-balanced diets may benefit from supplementation.
Symptoms of riboflavin deficiency include being sensitive to light and having burning and itching that affects the eyes and the area surrounding them. A person with a vitamin B2 deficiency may also develop a sore tongue or mouth tissue. The lips may become sore as well. In some cases, a person who is not getting enough riboflavin may also have skin peeling around the nose.
Adult males need about 1.3 milligrams of riboflavin daily. Adult women need a little less and are often advised to consume about 1.1 milligrams daily. Pregnant women need a bit more of the vitamin and are often advised to consume about 1.4 milligrams each day. A breastfeeding mother typically needs about 1.6 milligrams.