riboflavin (generic name)
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CategoryHerbs & Supplements
7,8-dimethyl-10 (1'-D-ribityl) isoalloxazine, B-complex vitamin, Dolo-Neurotrat, flavin, flavine, lactoflavin, riboflavine, vitamin B2, vitamin G.
Supplements: The most common forms of riboflavin available in supplements are riboflavin and riboflavin 5'-monophosphate. Riboflavin is most commonly found in multivitamin and vitamin B-complex preparations.
Riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin, which is involved in vital metabolic processes in the body and is necessary for normal cell function, growth, and energy production. Small amounts of riboflavin are present in most animal and plant tissues.
Healthy individuals who eat a balanced diet rarely need riboflavin supplements. Especially good dietary sources of riboflavin are milk (and other dairy products), eggs, enriched cereals/grains, meats, liver, and green vegetables (such as asparagus or broccoli). Intake may be lower in vegetarians compared to non-vegetarians.
Riboflavin is often used as a tracer of medication compliance in the treatment of patients with alcohol dependence, mental disorders, and other conditions. Urinary riboflavin levels may be measured in order to determine the level of compliance.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Riboflavin deficiency (ariboflavinosis):
Studies suggest that riboflavin is beneficial in patients with riboflavin deficiency (ariboflavinosis). Ariboflavinosis may cause weakness, throat swelling/soreness, glossitis (tongue swelling), angular stomatitis/cheilosis (skin cracking or sores at the corners of the mouth), dermatitis (skin irritation), or anemia.
Particular groups may be especially susceptible to riboflavin deficiency, including the elderly, those with chronic illnesses, the poor, and those with alcohol dependency. Patients with suspected riboflavin deficiency should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare professional.
Some research suggests that riboflavin may play an adjunct role in the treatment of iron deficiency anemia and sickle cell anemia; levels of riboflavin may be low in these conditions. Correction of riboflavin deficiency in individuals who are both riboflavin deficient and iron deficient appears to improve response to iron therapy.
Anorexia / bulemia:
Levels of important nutrients are often low in individuals with anorexia or bulimia, with up to 20-33% of patients deficient in vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B6 (pyridoxine). Dietary changes alone, without additional supplements, can often bring vitamin B levels back to normal. However, extra B2 and B6 may be required. Nutritional and medical guidance for such patients should be under the direction of a qualified healthcare professional.
It has been suggested that low riboflavin levels may be a risk factor for developing cataracts or that riboflavin supplementation may be beneficial for prevention. Additional evidence is needed before a clear conclusion can be drawn.
Adequate nutrient supplementation with riboflavin may be required for the maintenance of adequate cognitive function. Treatment with B-vitamins including riboflavin has been reported to improve scores of depression and cognitive function in patients taking tricyclic antidepressants. This may be related to tricyclic-caused depletion of riboflavin levels.
Adequate nutrient supplementation with riboflavin may be required for the maintenance of adequate cognitive function. Treatment with B-vitamins, including riboflavin, has been reported to improve depression scores in patients taking tricyclic antidepressants. This may be related to tricyclic-caused depletion of riboflavin levels.
Esophageal cancer (prevention and treatment):
Riboflavin supplementation has been studied in the prevention and treatment of esophageal cancer, mostly in China, with mixed results. No clear conclusion can be drawn at this time.
Although the exact pathogenesis of this disorder is unknown, some research suggests that riboflavin may lead to slight improvements in motor function, cognitive behavior, and diarrhea.
Migraine headache prevention:
Several studies suggest benefits of high-dose riboflavin in preventing migraine headaches.
Limited study has reported an association between low riboflavin levels and an increased risk of preeclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy). However, it is not clear if low riboflavin levels are a cause or consequence of this condition, or if additional supplementation is warranted in pregnant women at risk of preeclampsia/eclampsia (beyond the routine use of prenatal vitamins).