Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is an essential vitamin needed for optimal health. Commonly used in natural cures and home remedies for a range of disorders, including sickle cell anemia and migraine headaches, riboflavin can be supplemented into one’s diet or obtained from a healthy variety of natural food sources. Without proper amounts of the vitamin in one’s diet, the risk of developing a deficiency can result in mild to serious health symptoms. Knowing what riboflavin is, why it is necessary to good health and the food sources by which one can access it most effectively are all a necessary part of a lifestyle targeting holistic health.
Riboflavin Nutritional Benefits
Riboflavin is extremely helpful in the body’s formation and production of red blood cells. It also helps produce energy from key food sources.
Riboflavin Health Benefits
While most people are familiar with the fact that vitamin B2 helps to eliminate dandruff, while maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails, it is also used in many other natural cures and home remedies, due to its strong support of optimal health.
Other riboflavin health benefits include:
- Helps in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome
- Protects against certain forms of cancer
- Helps to increase athletic performance
- Metabolizes fats, carbohydrates and proteins
- Helps to metabolize tryptophan (which is then converted into niacin)
- Assists in cell growth and respiration
When riboflavin or vitamin B2 is used in tandem with vitamin A, it also helps maintain the health of the mucous membranes in the body’s digestive tract.
Symptoms of Riboflavin Deficiency
The signs and symptoms of a riboflavin deficiency may include:
- Skin lesions
- Inflammation of the tongue and mouth
- Poor digestion
- Hair loss
- Growth disturbances
- Delayed mental responses
- Vision and eye problems
Food Sources of Riboflavin
While vitamin B2 supplements are widely available at most health stores and large retail grocers, supplementation does not compare to natural sources of the vitamin. The best foods to obtain healthy doses of riboflavin include, but are not limited to:
- Dandelion greens
- Brussel’s sprouts
- Wild rice
- Meat (especially organ meats, such as the liver and kidney)
- Split peas
- Red peppers
- Wheat germ
- Wheat bran
- Brewer’s yeast
- Tarula yeast
- Whole grains
Specific herbal sources of riboflavin include:
- Raspberry leaves
- Rose hips
- Fennel seed
- Burdock root
- Yellow dock
- Red clover
- Oat straw
While riboflavin is safe to use in natural forms, as well as in supplemental forms, it should be noted that anti-malarial medications tend to interfere with the body’s ability to metabolize it.
As such an important vitamin for normal bodily functioning, it is particularly important that pregnant and breast feeding mothers target an adequate amount of vitamin B2 in order to avoid a riboflavin deficiency in their children. Also, those who use oral birth control or who consume excessive amounts of alcohol should be aware that each can contribute to deficiencies. Overall, those who target good health are advised to monitor their intake of riboflavin to assure that this vitamin is always available to assist the body in its effective metabolic processes.