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The Functions Of Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

By Tyler Woodward

Riboflavin or Vitamin B2 is a water-soluble vitamin that acts as a cofactor for a number of enzymes in the body. Riboflavin is a necessary component in order for either glucose or fatty acids to be used as energy in the cell. Riboflavin is also necessary in the production of the body’s main antioxidant glutathione.

Riboflavin was the second of the B-vitamins to be discovered,  hence the name B2, and was originally described as the “green-yellow fluorescence” that was found to exist in milk. Riboflavin was discovered in 1922 by Richard Kuhn, but it was not isolated until the 1930s. 


Why Do You Need Vitamin B2?:
Why You Need Vitamin b2

Vitamin B2 acts as a cofactor in a number of essential enzymes. Enzymes are a type of protein that allow the body to convert chemicals into other chemicals, like you take the ingredients of a pie and make the pie. If you imagine an enzyme like the chef responsible for creating the food, then a cofactor would be comparable to one of the tools he needs to do so like a knife or skillet.

B2 Is Necessary For Glucose & Fatty Acid Oxidation

Glucose & Fatty Acid oxidation are the conversion of glucose (sugar) & fat to energy. Both are extremely important as your body’s main fuel source is glucose, but when it runs out it must quickly convert to using fat as fuel or risk its cells starving. Without B2 the process of converting glucose and fat into energy cannot be completed without riboflavin.

B2 Is Necessary For The Production Of Glutathione

The process of producing the body’s main antioxidant glutathione is also a thiamine-dependent process, meaning that it requires riboflavin to occur. Without glutathione the body is severely limited in its ability to protect itself from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress resulting from the formation of free radicals is one of the current theories behind aging. Without adequate glutathione to counteract this oxidative stress, the body is subjected to much higher amounts of stress and is likely to age faster as a result. 

B2 Is A Precursors To FMN and FAD

FMN, flavin mononucleotide, and FAD, flavin adenine dinucleotide, are cofactors in over 150 reactions including the metabolism of the other B-Vitamins B6, B8, and B12. 

B2 & Anemia

Although the mechanism is unknown, riboflavin is believed to play a role in the absorption and regulation of iron. Low riboflavin status (riboflavin deficiency) is associated with anemia and supplementing with riboflavin has been shown to increase the production of hemoglobin and red blood cell count.

B2 & Vision

A number of studies have found riboflavin drops as a successful means of improving eyesight as a result of a loss in vision from myopia. Riboflavin may also play a role in regulating the circadian rhythm through the eyes, which controls the release of hormones throughout the day. 

B2 & The Gut

Riboflavin also shows promise in positively improving the gut microbiome. Riboflavin supplementation has been associated with a decrease in leaky gut and a decrease in the amount of endotoxin (“bad bacteria”) that permeates through the intestine.

Read More: Does Your Multivitamin Suck

Riboflavin Deficiency:

Due to riboflavin’s role in these processes riboflavin deficiencies have been associated with:

Common symptoms of a thiamine deficiency include:

Read More: Everything You Need To Know About Vitamin B1

Best Dietary Sources Of B2:

Riboflavin Foods

Vitamin B2 is found in relatively high concentrations in:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Meat including beef, chicken & pork
  • Salmon
  • Fortified foods like wheat
  • Yeast

Organ meats, particularly liver, are also extremely concentrated in vitamin B2 and pack enough in a single serving to satisfy your weekly requirement. 

Because riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin it is virtually impossible to consume too much of it naturally as your kidneys are capable of excreting excess through your urine. But for this same reason you need to consume vitamin B2 on almost a daily basis because it cannot be stored in the body.

Riboflavin can also be produced in small quantities by the colon bacteria in the colon and the amo

It’s worth noting that riboflavin has been shown to be extremely sensitive to light which can cause it to degrade. For these reasons it’s best stored in the dark or in a non-clear container (not glass) and to be kept out of sunlight which can rapidly degrade it.

Daily B

The B-Vitamins are an extremely important part of your diet and are necessary to maintain good health. It can be difficult to consume enough of all 8 B vitamins, which is why we created our Daily B supplement! Daily B is an easy and convenient way to ensure you're getting enough of each of the B vitamins. Click here to try Daily B today!


My goal in writing this article, as always, is to provide you with logically-based principles that you can use to form your own conclusions regarding any information you may come across within this subject. I really hope you found this article interesting and if you have anything to add to this article, or any comments or criticism, feel free to reach out to me on our facebook groups or on Instagram @tylerwoodward_fit. Also, please feel free to share this article with anyone that might be interested.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time… be good

~Tyler Woodward