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Signs of Riboflavin Deficiency

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) acts as an essential coenzyme which actively participates in the metabolism of carbohydrates.

Riboflavin deficiency usually occurs alongside other vitamin B deficiencies. It is primarily the result of inadequate intake of foods rich in these vitamins. Food sources include fortified cereals, milk, yoghurt, beef liver, eggs, broccoli, spinach, walnuts and seafoods. However, it can also be caused by certain medical conditions such as chronic alcoholism, chronic use of barbiturates, liver diseases, peritoneal dialysis, malabsorption syndromes, chronic diarrhea and hemodialysis.

The most common signs of vitamin b2 deficiency


Angular stomatitis - irritation and fissuring in the corners of the lips

Cheilosis - fissures and scaling at the corners of mouth

Eventually, chilosis is replaced by superficial linear fissures which can be infected by Candida albicans. This organism in turn can cause grayish white lesions known as perlèche. 

Tongue may appear magenta

Seborrheic dermatitis/seborrheic eczema – inflammatory skin disorder which may affect the face (eyelids, ears, nasolabial folds), scalp and trunk causing red, itchy, scaly and flaky skin.

Sometimes, rare symptoms occur like keratitis and neovascularizatio of the cornea causing photophobia and lacrimation.

Diagnosing Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) Deficiency

Although the common signs of the vitamin deficiency are lesions, their physical characteristics are nonspecific.  However, riboflavin deficiency should be suspected if the patient, alongside with the abovementioned signs and symptoms, has an existing other vitamin b as well. The diagnosis can be supported and confirmed by laboratory testing or therapeutic trials, measuring riboflavin excretion from urine.

Medical Intervention/Treatment

Riboflavin is given at a dose of 5 to 10 mg per day together with other water soluble vitamins until the patient recovers. 


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