What Is Another Name for Vitamin B2?

Updated February 5, 2018
Vitamin B capsules and vegies

So, what is another name for vitamin B2? The answer is riboflavin, which is a common ingredient listed on all sorts of natural and fortified foods, including cereals. According to Introduction to Clinical Nutrition (pages 206 to 207), the presence of the vitamin was first noticed as a yellow-green fluorescent pigment in milk in 1879. A substance, recognized as a source of the fluorescence in the 1920s, was given the name Vitamin B2.

Riboflavin Is Another Name for Vitamin B2

Vitamin B2 was first synthesized in 1935, and its alternate name, riboflavin, comes from its fluorescence and its main component, sugar. Pigments that have fluorescent qualities are called flavins, and the compound sugar is ribose, hence the name riboflavin. It is one of the eight water-soluble B-complex vitamins that play a key role in cell metabolism.

Riboflavin is absorbed from the small intestine, and small amounts of the vitamin are stored in the liver, kidney, and heart. Because only small amounts are stored, we need to replenish the vitamin continually through dietary means. A deficiency in riboflavin will cause several problems, including neurological imbalances. However, very few Americans will suffer from a severe riboflavin deficiency because the B vitamin is stable to heat, oxidation, and acids and is very easy to add to processed foods.

Benefits of Vitamin B2

While most Americans will never suffer a true deficiency of vitamin B2, there are many benefits to making sure you have an ample supply of it in your body. According to a Linus Pauling Institute (LPI) review, there is some evidence that adequate levels of Riboflavin might play an important role in preventing several medical problems. Many people take vitamin B2 supplements to try to prevent and treat the following:

  • Migraine headaches
  • Cataracts
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Several skin disorders such as acne, rosacea, dermatitis, and eczema

Riboflavin is especially helpful in counteracting the tendency towards glaucoma. Furthermore, in the treatment of anemia, adding vitamin B2 to iron supplements can increase its absorption and effectiveness. Some even say that having an abundance of vitamin B2 in your system will preserve the appearance and feeling of youth.

Sources of Vitamin B2

The following list of foods are sources high in the vitamin:

  • Cheese
  • Egg yolks
  • Almonds
  • Organ meats
  • Whole grains
  • Wild rice
  • Soybeans
  • Milk
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Poultry
  • Most fortified cereals and flour products

A Deficiency

Although a deficiency of riboflavin in Americans is rare, it's important to make sure you're getting enough of this vital nutrient. A deficiency can have profound effects on the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. According to the National Institutes of Health, the early symptoms of a riboflavin deficiency include the following:

  • Lips that become dry and chaffed (cheilosis)
  • Tongue that becomes red and shiny (glossitis) and develops fissures
  • The angles at the corners of the mouth become ulcerated (angular stomatitis)
  • Skin becomes scaly and greasy around the skin folds (seborrhoeic dermatitis)

These are worsening symptoms:

  • Swollen tongue
  • Severe mouth ulcerations
  • Anemia
  • Impaired nerve function

Newborns with jaundice might also be at risk for developing a riboflavin deficiency. These babies usually receive phototherapy for their jaundice, but riboflavin is sensitive to light and can dissolve under powerful rays. Jaundiced newborns should be carefully monitored for any sign of a riboflavin deficiency.

How Much Vitamin B2?

From the Institute of Medicine's Dietary Reference Intakes guide, the minimum recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin B2 are as follows:

  • Men - 1.3 mg
  • Women - 1.1 mg
  • Pregnant women - 1.4 mg
  • Lactating women - 1.6 mg

Since the body cannot absorb large amounts of vitamin B2 at one time, there is no known toxicity level for this vitamin.

Riboflavin Supplements

Riboflavin or vitamin B2 is essential to your health and well-being. There are benefits to ensuring you get enough of the vitamin. If you think you are not getting enough Riboflavin from your food sources, taking a supplement that contains this vitamin is a good idea.

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What Is Another Name for Vitamin B2?