We are constantly being told that it is essential to get our vitamins and minerals every day, but knowing how much, where to get them from and what they do for our body is vital to ensure optimum health. Each vitamin brings something different to the table and assists with another function in the body. On the hot seat today is Riboflavin, more commonly known as vitamin B2.
Riboflavin is grouped with eight other B vitamins. These vitamins are all water-soluble and are excreted by the body, and need to be replenished as they cannot be stored. This means it is crucial to get your daily dose to really feel the benefits of the vitamins. So no, eating healthily one day a week is not going to do it, I’m afraid.
It’s not doom and gloom, though. Knowing which foods and drinks are sources can help you achieve your recommended daily intake. So here we look at all the basics you need to know about Riboflavin to understand the importance, benefits and most importantly, how to get it.
Now it’s all very well being told you need something for your body, but why? Here comes the scientific bit. Riboflavin plays multiple roles in the body. According to the National Institutes of Health, the vitamin is an essential part of two vital coenzymes in the body. These enzymes assist with energy function, growth and the metabolism of steroids and drugs, as well as carbohydrates, proteins and fats, which are then converted into energy. It also converts two other vitamins in the B family, vitamin B3 and B6, so they can work effectively. As if this wasn’t enough, it also maintains amino acids in the blood.
The benefits of consuming Riboflavin include; increased energy, preventing fatigue, and it could also be good for eyesight. Results from a 2003 report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition could improve night vision and how our eyes adapt to the darkness. Move over carrots!
So where do we get it, and how much do we need? Each vitamin and mineral has a Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI). The RNI is the amount that is recommended to be taken daily to benefit from the vitamin or mineral. According to the British Nutrition Foundation, the figure for adults ranges between 1.1mg/d and 1.3mg/d depending on age and gender.
Adult Males 1.3mg/d
Adult Females 1.1mg/d
There are many natural sources of Riboflavin. Foods such as beef liver, yoghurt, milk, mushrooms, almonds and fortified cereals are all great sources of vitamin b2. To be mindful, Riboflavin is light sensitive. It degrades in the natural sunlight, so when possible, keep your products out of direct sunlight to ensure you are getting the highest levels available. Sources are more elevated in meat and dairy, and therefore vegans and vegetarians should be mindful to ensure the intake is on track.
We now know why we need it, but what happens when we don’t get enough? Riboflavin deficiency can cause chapped lips, fatigue, malabsorption, and a deficiency in other vitamins. It is a key component in processing, according to Roy Sherwood author of Methods for assessment of Vitamin B2. However, it is uncommon in developed countries and so not a significant worry.
So there you have it. Riboflavin is a powerful vitamin that has many functions and benefits for the body. If your interest has been peaked about vitamins and minerals and why we need them, it is always good to check out the NHS website and British Nutrition Foundation for information and guidance.
Whether you are going out on missions in the dark or need energy for your workouts, Riboflavin is a significant part of the overall process.