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Factors Affecting Riboflavin

There are several factors that may affect the levels and functions of riboflavin.

Cooking and Storage

Heat and air may do very little and insignificant damage to riboflavin. However, light can greatly damage it. In one study, it was found out that food with riboflavin, when subjected to heat (boiling water), does not damage the vitamin but when it was subjected to light, significant loss was noted. For this reason, foods rich in riboflavin should be stored in opaque containers and cooked in covered pots to prevent prolonged exposure to light.

Food Processing

During the processing of flour, it was found out that riboflavin is reduced to as much as 70%. Because of this finding, the US government required all processed wheat be enriched with riboflavin. This was started in 1940s and since then, fortified wheat flour has become the main source of riboflavin in the US diet.

Chronic Alcoholism

Alcohol intake can significantly decrease the availability of riboflavin in the body. That is why, chronic alcohol beverage drinkers should have supply themselves with 5 to 10 times the recommended daily riboflavin requirement.

Heavy Exercise

Those who are engaged in heavy exercises, especially women, needs 10 to 15 times the normal amount of riboflavin.


Certain medications may decrease the riboflavin availability in the body. These include:

Oral contraceptives (birth control pills)

Tetracycline (antibiotic)

Primaquine (anti-malarial drugs)

Doxepin (Sinequan)

Amitryptyline (Elavil); tricyclic antidepressants

Probenecid (anti-gout drugs)

Interaction with Other Nutrients

The presence of other vitamins and nutrients, most especially niacin (vitamin B1), greatly affects the supply of riboflavin. For example, sufficient amounts of niacin can help increase the levels of riboflavin. However, excessive amounts of niacin can significantly increase the loss of riboflavin in the urine.

On the other hand, the availability of other nutrients is influenced by the levels of vitamin B2. Vitamin B12, vitamin B3, folate, zinc and iron needs sufficient amounts of vitamin B2 in order to be full available in the body.


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