Riboflavin is being talked about a lot these days. But why does your body need it daily? And what role does it play in eye health?

Riboflavin is a key vitamin. It plays an essential role in your body’s energy production. Riboflavin deficiency can cause anemia, skin issues, and even poor vision.

In today’s post, we take a closer look at riboflavin’s eye and body health benefits, major food sources, dosage, side effects, and more.

Let’s start with what riboflavin is exactly.

What Is Riboflavin?

Also known as vitamin B2, riboflavin is one of the eight B vitamins. Just like other B vitamins, it plays a major role in energy production.

Riboflavin metabolizes fats and protein in your body. It keeps your liver, skin, and hair healthy, and helps your nervous system function properly. It’s also essential for your eye cells.

In addition, riboflavin works as an antioxidant. It fights damaging free radicals in your body. That way, it also helps slow the pace of aging.

Does your body need riboflavin daily? It does. Because it’s water-soluble, riboflavin is easily flushed out of your body and has to be restored each day. In fact, riboflavin is responsible for the fluorescent-yellow color of urine.

Riboflavin Eye Health Benefits

Riboflavin is needed for the healthy and proper functioning of your eyes. The vitamin helps prevent cataracts, reduces migraines, strengthens the cornea, and reduces oxidative stress and eye fatigue.

Take a closer look at the many eye health benefits of riboflavin.

Prevents Cataracts

Does your eye lens feel cloudy, making your vision blurry? Riboflavin deficiency may be to blame.

According to the National Institutes of Health, eating a diet rich in riboflavin may lower the risk of developing cataracts. What’s more, as little as 2 micrograms of riboflavin can help prevent cataracts.

Strengthens the Cornea

Riboflavin eye treatment drops can help treat progressive keratoconus, an eye condition with bulging corneas. First, the drops are applied. Then UV light is directed over the eye. This allows riboflavin to be absorbed into the cornea.

closeup of child's eye seen from the side including cornea, lens, iris, pupil, and lashes

This procedure causes a reaction in the collagen fibers inside your cornea. It helps stiffen and strengthen the cornea, helping slow or stop the progression of keratoconus.

Reduces Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress can cause several eye diseases. These include cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, premature retinopathy, uveitis, keratitis, and ocular inflammation.

According to research, the consumption of riboflavin can protect your eyes and body from oxidative stress. It can help keep your eyes healthy and happy in the long run.

Other Riboflavin Health Benefits

Apart from its eye and vision benefits, riboflavin also has several other health benefits. From boosting energy levels to repairing tissues and promoting growth, it plays a key role in supporting overall health.

Reduces Migraine Headaches

Migraine can cause severe throbbing pain, typically on one side of your head. It may even come with nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.

Findings after a clinical trial suggest that riboflavin can reduce the intensity and frequency of migraines. In the trial, patients who took 400 milligrams of riboflavin a day had fewer migraine attacks than those who took a placebo.

Boosts Energy

Riboflavin helps your body convert carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into fuel. It plays an important role in maintaining your body’s energy supply.

Increases Blood Circulation

Riboflavin is also important for the formation of red blood cells and antibodies. This in turn increases blood circulation to key organs.

Protects the Nervous System

Feeling numb, anxious, or stressed? Riboflavin may come to the rescue. The vitamin helps the nervous system function properly. It may even relieve symptoms of anxiety and nervousness.

woman sitting bench cross legged watching the landscape seen from behind

Repairs Tissues

Riboflavin assists in the healing process, too. It repairs your body tissues and may speed up wound healing in diabetic patients, according to a 2015 study.

Promotes Growth and Development

Riboflavin is essential for the proper growth and development of body tissues like the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. In addition, it also supports healthy nails, skin, and hair.

Regulates Thyroid Activity

Because it regulates thyroid enzymes, riboflavin is important for people with hypothyroidism. On the other hand, a deficiency can suppress thyroid function. As a result, the gland will fail to secrete hormones.

Boosts Immunity

Riboflavin benefits your immune system by strengthening the antibody reserves. It also improves the activity of certain immune cells in your body.

Improves Mineral Absorption

Riboflavin also helps in the absorption of other minerals. When your body has sufficient riboflavin, it absorbs folic acid, iron, and other B vitamins more easily.

Promotes Healthy Fetal Development

Riboflavin contributes to a healthy pregnancy. It also reduces morning sickness, nausea, and muscle cramping during pregnancy. Pregnant women should take about 1.4 mg of the vitamin daily.

Protects the Digestive Tract

This vitamin keeps your digestive tract in good working order. It maintains and protects the mucous membranes in your digestive system.

Best Eye Vitamins Other Than Riboflavin

Riboflavin is essential for your eye health. But so are several other vitamins and nutrients.

printed page showing foods rich in vitamin C and vitamin D

They work together with riboflavin to support eye health and can help prevent eye diseases like cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.

  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A helps maintain cornea health. It also reduces the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. Sweet potatoes, green veggies, pumpkins, and bell peppers are great sources of vitamin A.
  • Vitamin B: Several B vitamins, especially B6, B9, and B12, are important for eye health. They decrease inflammation and reduce the risks of developing age-related macular degeneration. You can get vitamin B from meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy products.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C slows the progression of cataracts. It also forms collagen, which helps provide structure to the eyes. Citrus fruits and yellow and orange vegetables have high amounts of vitamin C.
  • Vitamin E: A potent antioxidant, vitamin E helps protect your eye cells from oxidative stress. Some vitamin E-rich options include seafood, nuts, and seeds.
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin: Both these antioxidants support clear vision. Lutein and zeaxanthin occur in large quantities in colorful fruits and vegetables.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Your eyes need omega-3 fatty acids for proper functioning. These acids help the cells of your retina and cornea heal and regenerate. Include fish, seeds, nuts, and cooking oils in your diet for omega-3s.
  • Zinc: Zinc is a powerful antioxidant. It helps protect your eyes against cell damage. To increase your zinc intake, add whole grains and milk products to your daily diet.

Symptoms of Riboflavin Deficiency

Although rare, riboflavin deficiency can come with painful and uncomfortable symptoms. A major cause of riboflavin deficiency is poor diet.

Your body flushes out this vitamin continuously. Not eating it often enough may lead to a deficiency. Signs and symptoms of riboflavin deficiency include:

  • Painful cracks in the corners of your mouth and lips
  • Sore or magenta tongue
  • Cracked, red lips
  • Dry skin
  • Cleft lip and palate deformities
  • Inflammation of the tongue
  • Inflammation of the lining of your mouth
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Fluid in mucous membranes
  • Red, greasy, or scaly patches around the nose, lips, ears, and eyelids
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Migraines
  • Anemia
  • Scrotal dermatitis
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Night blindness
  • Itchy, watery, or bloodshot eyes

Riboflavin Safety

Overdosing on riboflavin is unlikely since your body can absorb only around 27 milligrams of riboflavin at a time. Any additional amount is expelled in the urine.

That said, make sure to talk to your doctor before taking any riboflavin supplements. That’s because supplements can interfere with other medications, lowering their effectiveness.

Riboflavin Daily Dosage

Riboflavin is found in many foods. But if your diet lacks riboflavin, you can also consider taking supplements.

As far as riboflavin dosage is considered, here’s how much you should take daily according to the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA):

  • Adult males: 1.3 mg
  • Adult females: 1.1 mg
  • Pregnant women: 1.4 mg
  • Nursing women: 1.6 mg
  • Children from 7 to 10 years: 1.2 mg
  • Children from 4 to 6 years: 1.1 mg
  • Children from birth to 3 years: 0.4 to 0.8 mg

Riboflavin Side Effects

When taken by mouth, riboflavin is safe for most people. You can take up to 400 mg daily without experiencing any undesirable effects.

Some side-effects of overconsumption of riboflavin are:

  • Bright yellow-orange urine
  • Nausea
  • Allergic reactions, like hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling in the face, lips, or tongue
  • Diarrhea or increased urination
  • Bad taste in the mouth

Riboflavin Common Food Sources

Many foods, like whole grains and dairy products, contain riboflavin naturally. So, it’s easy to get your daily dose of this vitamin from your diet.

closeup of almonds spilled on wooden table

For an optimal intake of riboflavin, eat more of these foods:

  • Almonds
  • Whole grains like wheat, brown rice, and quinoa
  • Wheat germ
  • Wild rice
  • Mushrooms
  • Soybeans
  • Asparagus
  • Dairy products, like milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Fortified breads
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Spinach
  • Artichokes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peas
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Fruits like avocados, dried apples, and bananas

halved avocado with the left half having the seed

Riboflavin in a Nutshell

As a recap, riboflavin helps prevent cataracts, strengthen the cornea, and protect your eyes from free radicals.

Riboflavin has other health benefits, too. It boosts energy levels, increases blood circulation, supports the nervous system, and boosts immunity.

On the other hand, riboflavin deficiency can come with uncomfortable symptoms. These include cracks at the corners of your mouth, ulcers, dry and chapped skin, inflammation of the tongue, sore throat, and sensitive eyes.

You can get your everyday supply of riboflavin by simply eating a healthy diet. Include fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and seafood in your meals and you’re sorted.

Eating these will give you a riboflavin boost. It will also provide you with the best eye vitamins for blurry vision, like vitamins A, E, and C, along with zinc, lutein, and omega-3s.

Getting more riboflavin in your diet isn’t hard, so don’t skip those fruits and veggies!

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