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Effects of Riboflavin Deficiency

Certain groups of people are more susceptible to riboflavin deficiency. This includes individuals with absorption problems, diabetes mellitus, kidney diseases being treated with dialysis, pregnant women with more than 1 fetus, breastfeeding mothers, heart disease and those with chronic diseases such as cancer.

Normally, we can get our daily riboflavin sources from natural food sources like tuna, wheat germ, eggs, meat, dairy products, beef liver and green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. However, you may need riboflavin supplements if you are:

a pregnant or breastfeeding mother

a person who have inadequate intake of the vitamin

an excessive alcoholic beverage drinker

have undergone chronic stress

have undergone surgery

a person with hyperthyroidism

Specific Health Conditions Associated with Riboflavin Deficiency


Cataracts, particularly age-related cataracts, are considered as the leading cause of visual disability in the United States and other developed countries. It was found out that natural antioxidants can greatly benefit the affected individual by reducing and preventing further oxidative damage to the lens proteins.

Part of the research is a case-control study testing the effects of regular dietary riboflavin intake in the development of age-related cataracts. Their riboflavin nutritional statuses were assessed by measuring the glutathione reductase activities in red blood cells. Results showed decreased incidence of about 33% to 51% for those who have regular dietary riboflavin intake of 1.6 to 2.2 mg/day.


Impaired oxygen metabolism in the mitochondria may result to migraine headache. Flavin coenzymes, flavin adenine dinucleutide (FAD) and flavin mononucleotide (FMN), are important in the mitochondrial electron transport chain. And since both of which requires riboflavin for their production, supplemental riboflavin has been investigated in the treatment of migraine headaches.

A randomized placebo-controlled trial examined the effects of riboflavin intake of 400mg a day for 3 months. The test involved 54 men and women with significant history of recurrent migraine headaches. It was found out that riboflavin significantly reduced the frequency of migraine headache attacks, the effects being more pronounced during the 3rd month of treatment.


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