Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) is a unique water-soluble vitamin that was initially isolated from milk whey in the year 1879. Deficiency of riboflavin is associated with various health disorders such as heart diseases, anemia, and bad skin health.
Such a deficiency also negatively affects the absorption of other important minerals such as iron and zinc. Riboflavin further plays a putative role in protecting against cancer and disorders of the nervous system.
Health Benefits of Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
Here are some amazing health benefits of riboflavin:
Fights Migraine Headaches
Riboflavin intake is an effective remedy for the treatment of migraines. Adding some riboflavin-rich foods to the diet of individuals with migraine can reduce the duration, frequency, and intensity of headaches.
It further decreases the need to take migraine-relieving medications. Riboflavin promotes conversion of nutrients from the food consumed into energy. In other words, riboflavin helps in the generation of energy in the brain cells and thus, it prevents migraine attacks. Furthermore, use of riboflavin supplements are safe and they come without any side-effects. (1, 2)
Protects Against Heart Failure
Research suggests that individuals with heart diseases are often riboflavin deficient. An elevated level of homocysteine in the blood is a risk factor for heart diseases. Riboflavin promotes the breakdown of homocysteine and helps in lowering circulating levels of homocysteine in the body.
Inadequate intake of riboflavin increases the risk of anemia. Getting enough riboflavin enhances absorption of iron, whereas deficiency of riboflavin reduces the mobilization of iron from stores and increases the rate of iron loss.
Riboflavin deficiency further negatively affects iron utilization. When consumption of riboflavin is high, the ability to mobilize iron and to utilize it for the synthesis of hemoglobin is also high. Hence, correcting a riboflavin deficiency is associated with improved iron status and prevention of anemia.
Besides this, riboflavin plays an important role in the production of red blood cells. It is very well-known that low red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood is associated with the onset of anemia. Thus, riboflavin plays a crucial role in the prevention of anemia. (5)
Enhances Growth and Development
Adequate riboflavin intake boosts iron and zinc absorption. Deficiency of riboflavin is associated with poor absorption of iron and zinc.
Iron and zinc are two important minerals that are required for proper growth and development in children. These minerals play a vital role in cell multiplication and growth of tissues and muscles. Iron and zinc are further required for proper cognitive development.
Insufficiency of these minerals is associated with overall bad health, low immune system, the easy onset of infections and poor cognitive function. Therefore, it is very important to consume riboflavin-rich foods daily to support growth and development in children, adolescents, and pregnant women. (6)
Helps Protect the Nervous System
Riboflavin plays an essential role in protecting the nervous system against damage. It provides energy to the brain cells and prevents the onset of nervous disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Deficiency of riboflavin is associated with increased free radical damage to the brain cells. Riboflavin intake enhances the activity of enzymes that boost the action of natural antioxidants present in the body. These antioxidants promote elimination of free radicals and protect the brain cells against damage and death.
Studies have found that treatment with riboflavin supplements improved the overall condition of individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Hence, for normal functioning of the nervous system and for the treatment and prevention of nervous disorders, it is essential to add riboflavin to your diet. (7)
Important for Eye Health
Research has found that older individuals without riboflavin deficiency had a clear lens, whereas individuals with riboflavin deficiency had cloudy lens.
Riboflavin protects the lens of the eye against damage caused by dangerous free radicals. People who consume diets rich in riboflavin are at a low risk of developing cataracts.
Riboflavin is essential to produce glutathione, a potent antioxidant that protects the body against oxidative stress. Low levels of glutathione due to the insufficiency of riboflavin can cause oxidative damage to the eyes that results in clouding of the lens or cataracts. Hence, cataracts can be prevented by enhancing your overall riboflavin intake. (8)
Riboflavin plays a key role in enhancing immunity. It reduces inflammation and boosts resistance to bacterial infections.
Riboflavin is also required to produce antibodies that fight infections and illness. It strengthens the body and prevents the onset of diseases.
It promotes growth and development, acts as an antioxidant and thus, improves overall health. (9)