In addition to producing energy for the body, riboflavin also works as an antioxidant by scavenging damaging particles in the body known as free radicals. These particles occur naturally in the body but can damage cell membranes, interact with genetic material, and possibly contribute to the aging process as well as the development of a number of health conditions such as heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants such as riboflavin can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.
Unlike other B vitamins, riboflavin is not found in many foods, so the most common cause of deficiency is lack of dietary intake, especially in the elderly. Symptoms of riboflavin deficiency include fatigue; slowed growth; digestive problems; cracks and sores around the corners of the mouth; swollen magenta tongue; eye fatigue; soreness of the lips, mouth and tongue; and sensitivity to light. Riboflavin is an important nutrient in the prevention of headache and some visual disturbances, particularly cataracts.
Dietary and supplemental vitamin B2, along with other nutrients is important for normal vision and prevention of cataracts (damage to the lens of the eye which can lead to cloudy vision). In fact, people with plenty of protein and vitamins A, B1, B2, and B3 (niacin) in their diet are less likely to develop cataracts. Plus, taking additional supplements of vitamins C, E, and B complex (particularly the B1, B2, B9 [folic acid], and B12 [cobalamin] in the complex ) may further protect the lens of your eyes from developing cataracts. (Note: no more than 10 mg per day of riboflavin should be used because levels above that could actually promote damage to the lens from the sun.)
For many migraine sufferers, taking riboflavin regularly may help decrease the frequency and shorten the duration of migraine headaches. It is not clear how riboflavin compares to conventional medications used to prevent migraine headaches, however.
It is especially important for people who have sustained serious burns to obtain adequate amounts of nutrients in their daily diet. When skin is burned, a substantial percentage of micronutrients may be lost. This increases the risk for infection, slows the healing process, prolongs the hospital stay, and even increases the risk of death. Although it is unclear which micronutrients are most beneficial for people with burns, many studies suggest that a multivitamin including the B complex vitamins may aid in the recovery process.
Levels of important nutrients are often quite low in people with anorexia or bulimia. At least 20% of people with anorexia admitted to a hospital for treatment are deficient in vitamins B2 and B6 (pyridoxine). Some research information suggests that as many as 33% of those with an eating disorder could be deficient in vitamins B2 and B6. Dietary changes alone, without additional supplements, can often bring vitamin B levels back to normal. However, extra B2 and B6 may be required (which will be determined by your doctor or nutritionist). Plus, B-complex vitamins may help alleviate stress and reduce symptoms of depression, frequently associated with eating disorders.
Children with sickle-cell anemia (a blood disorder characterized by abnormally shaped red blood cells) tend to have lower levels of certain antioxidants including riboflavin. Studies also suggest that riboflavin supplementation may improve iron deficiency anemia by enhancing the response to iron.
Low levels of riboflavin in the diet and/or riboflavin deficiency has been associated with rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, Crohn's disease, colon cancer, atherosclerotic heart disease, and multiple sclerosis. It is not clear, however, whether increased riboflavin in the diet or riboflavin supplements would help protect against any of these conditions except for, perhaps, carpal tunnel syndrome. There have been a couple of reports in the medical literature about a few individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome and low levels of riboflavin experiencing improvement in their symptoms by taking this B vitamin. More research for each of these conditions is needed.
Benefits and Uses
• works with other vitamins in the B complex to process calories from carbohydrates, protein and fat
• promotes healthy skin and good vision
• necessary for growth and red cell production
• important for general good health
• supports thyroid activity
• plays a key role in the production of energy
• treats a host of conditions, diseases and illnessess
Suggested Use: As a dietary supplement, take one capsule daily, preferably with meals.
Free of: yeast, wheat, corn, soy, milk, sugar,salt, colors, preservatives.
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