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Riboflavin Functions and Deficiencies

Vitamin B2, or commonly known as riboflavin has got its name from the Latin word “flavus” which means “yellow”.  When a person has excessive intake of vitamin B complexes, like vitamin B2, the excess are excreted in urine making it bright yellow in color.

Functions of Riboflavin

Energy production. Riboflavin plays a very important role in the production of energy in the body. It typically takes the form of flavin mononucleotide (FMN) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) in the energy production pathways. When riboflavin is in these forms, it can attach to protein enzymes to allow oxygen-based energy production to occur.

Cofactor for hemocystein metabolism. Riboflavin, when converted into flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD), is involved in hemocystein breakdown serving as a cofactor for the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). It was found out that high levels of hemocysytein in the body are associated with the increased risk of heart diseases.

Glutathione recycling. Glutathione is a known antioxidant responsible for preventing cellular and tissue damage from oxidation. Like most antioxidant molecules, it should be constantly recycled. Vitamin B2 or riboflavin plays a vital role in the recycle process. It acts as a glutathione reductase cofactor that reduces the oxidized form of glutathione back to its reduced form.

Maintaining Niacin (Vitamin B3) supply. Riboflavin plays a vital role in maintaining the healthy levels of other B vitamins.  In the niacin pathway, riboflavin, with the help of kynurenine monooxygenase enzyme, coverts the amino acid tryptophan to create vitamin B3.

Riboflavin Deficiencies

Early stages of riboflavin deficiency can cause eye-related signs and symptoms. These include:



Burning and itching around the eyes

Loss of clear vision

Other symptoms include:

Cracking of the skin at the corners of the mouth

Soreness around the lips, tongue and mouth

Peeling of the skin (nose, scrotum)


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