Common foods rich in riboflavin (or vitamin B2) are meat, dairy and eggs. Good dietary, plant-based sources are almonds, sunflower seeds, tahini, kale, spinach, green peas, and whole grain bread, though. Also, we could boost our daily intake by consuming fortified cereals, and spirulina!
Health benefits of vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
Vitamin B2 is also known as riboflavin. It’s a water-soluble B-vitamin. The body can’t store high amounts. So, we need to take it from food or supplements daily.
Bacteria in the gut produce small amounts of riboflavin. But, these amounts aren’t enough to meet our daily needs.
Also, vitamin B2 is necessary for the conversion of the amino acid tryptophan to niacin (vitamin B3).
Furthermore, vitamin B2 is important for the proper function of many enzymes in the body. Thus, a deficiency might cause health problems.
Additionally, riboflavin helps reduce oxidative stress and inflammation of nerves. Hence, it seems to prevent headaches and migraines. According to studies, a daily dosage of 400 mg of riboflavin for a couple of months seems to reduce the frequency of migraines. But, beneficial effects of riboflavin start only after the first month.
Furthermore, riboflavin has potent antioxidant properties. It boosts the immune system and also, keeps hair strong and skin elastic.
Most noteworthy, vitamin B2, along with vitamin B6, folate (vitamin B9), and vitamin B12 are crucial for maintaining normal levels of homocysteine. Elevated levels of homocysteine may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and stroke! People who follow a poor diet have an increased risk of elevated homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid naturally present in foods from animal sources, such as meat.
What’s the recommended daily dose?
The recommended daily dose of riboflavin is 1.3 mg and 1.1 mg for men and women, respectively.
Pregnant women need 1.4 mg, while lactating women need 1.6 mg of riboflavin a day.
Children need lower doses between 0.5 and 0.9 mg, depending on their age.
What’s the upper safe dosage?
Actually, there isn’t a maximum safe dose for riboflavin. Even extremely high doses of 400 mg a day, for a couple of months, don’t seem to cause any adverse effects. Neither from foods, nor supplements.
Actually, the gut can absorb a limited amount of riboflavin at a time. Excess is excreted in the urine.
Certainly, you should consult your health care provider before taking any supplements.
Can I get enough from diet, or do I need supplements?
Certainly, healthy people who follow a well-balanced diet can get more than enough riboflavin from food alone. There is no need for supplements.
In fact, most people in the United States consume the recommended doses of riboflavin. Only about 6% of the U.S. population doesn’t get enough riboflavin.
It’s estimated that the average daily riboflavin intake from diet is 2.5 mg in men and 1.8 mg in women.
Although, riboflavin deficiency is rare in the United States, certain groups of people may have a higher risk of developing deficiencies.
People who follow a poor diet, people with thyroid disorders, and pregnant or lactating women should be extra careful about their riboflavin intake.
Moreover, vegan or vegetarian athletes should consume a wide variety of foods high in riboflavin.
First, acute exercise may deplete riboflavin levels. It produces stress in the metabolic pathways that use riboflavin.
Secondly, meat and dairy products are the main sources of riboflavin for people who follow the standard American diet. Hence, limiting to plant-based sources may increase the risk of riboflavin deficiency. So, vegans and vegetarians should consume many plant-based foods rich in riboflavin.
In any case, if you feel like boosting your daily intake, you could buy inexpensive riboflavin supplements on Amazon.
Foods from animal sources, which are rich in vitamin B2
Milk, meat, and enriched cereals are the largest contributors of riboflavin.
Actually, lamb is the richest food in riboflavin from animal sources. A serving of lamb provides about 350% of the recommended daily intake!
Eggs are also good dietary sources. Just an egg provides about 17% DV (Daily Value).
Seeds & nuts are rich in riboflavin
Among the richest foods in riboflavin are almonds. A handful of almonds provides about 30% DV.
Additionally, tahini, which is made of sesame seeds, is a good source of riboflavin. Just a tbsp provides 5% DV.
Furthermore, sunflower, hemp, chia and flax seeds are rich in riboflavin.
Beans contain modest amounts of vitamin B2
Actually, green peas are the richest beans in vitamin B2. A serving contains about 20% DV.
Vegetables & fruits with riboflavin
Vegetables also contribute to the daily riboflavin intake. Kale is the richest green vegetable in riboflavin. Spinach, asparagus, broccoli and winter squash contain modest amounts as well.
Avocado, apple, banana, orange and kiwi also contribute to the daily intake. For instance, a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice contains about 5% DV.
Moreover, you should prefer steaming your vegetables, instead of boiling them. Riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin. Thus, a huge amount of riboflavin leaks into the water when boiling vegetables.
Furthermore, you could boost your daily intake, consuming spirulina. Just a tbsp provides 20% DV! You can buy organic spirulina on Amazon. Click here.
Additionally, spices may contribute to the daily total intake of riboflavin. For instance, a tbsp of dried parsley contains about 3% DV.
Grains are good sources of riboflavin
Whole grains contribute significantly to the daily riboflavin intake. A slice of bread provides about 8% DV, for example.
Moreover, cereals, pasta, and flours are often fortified with riboflavin. For instance, just a cup of enriched corn flakes contains about 35% DV.
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