Vitamin B2: Symptoms Of Riboflavin Deficiency And Its Sources

What is Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)?

Vitamin B2 or riboflavin is one of the eight B vitamins necessary for the human body. It is one of the vitamins dissolved in water and is not affected by heat. So, in this article, we will discuss the symptoms of riboflavin or vitamin B2 deficiency and its treatment by dietary sources. [1]

It is necessary to consume vitamin B2 daily because the body stores it in small and excretes the excess amounts of it. Vitamin B2 is naturally found in many foods and added to others. You can take it as a synthetic supplement, and most of the vitamin B2 is absorbed in the small intestine.

Also, eating adequate amounts of vitamin B2 may help reduce the risk of certain diseases such as anemia, cataracts, migraines, and thyroid dysfunction. [2, 3, 4]

Riboflavin deficiency

Vitamin B2, or riboflavin deficiency is more common in developing countries in Asia and Africa. Riboflavin deficiency symptoms may occur due to insufficient intake of vitamin B2 through food. It may occur due to endocrine disorders, chronic diarrhea, alcoholism, dialysis, or liver disorders. Also, vitamin B2 deficiency often occurs with one of the other B vitamins deficiency. [5, 6]

Vitamin B2 or riboflavin deficiency can lead to another nutrient deficiency, and iron is the most common. The most cause of anemia is low iron consumption. Vitamin B2 is involved in processing these nutrients. Symptoms of riboflavin or vitamin B2 deficiency can also be associated with various developmental abnormalities such as cleft lip and palate, delayed growth, and heart disease.

During pregnancy, a deficiency of vitamin B2 can jeopardize the fetus growth, and it can also increase the risk of a pregnant woman in preeclampsia caused by high blood pressure. This condition can be life-threatening. [7, 8]

Vitamin B2 deficiency includes many symptoms and signs, including the following: [4, 6]


Excessive sensitivity of the eye to light (Photosensitivity).


Redness of the lips, cracking of the corners of the mouth.

Sore throat.


Seborrheic Dermatitis.

Hair loss.

Normocytic anemia.




Delayed mental response.

Treating riboflavin deficiency

Vitamin B2 intake by adults and children can treat riboflavin deficiency and increase its level in the body, and it is worth noting that this vitamin can be destroyed when exposed to light.

So, foods containing vitamin B2 must be stored in containers not exposed to light. [9, 4]

We mention the following. Some natural sources of vitamin B2 (riboflavin):


Every 100 grams of beef contains 0.9 milligrams of vitamin B2, equivalent to 66% of the daily amount.

Low-fat milk

Every 100 grams of low-fat milk contains 0.2 milligrams of vitamin B2, which is equivalent to 14% of the daily amount.


Every 100 grams of salmon contains 0.5 milligrams of vitamin B2, which is equivalent to 37% of the daily amount.


Every 100 grams contains 0.5 milligrams of vitamin B2, equivalent to 36% of the daily amount.


A large egg contains 0.3 milligrams of vitamin B2, which is equivalent to 20% of the daily amount.


Every 100 grams of spinach contains 0.2 milligrams of vitamin B2, which is equivalent to 18% of the daily amount.


Every 100 grams of almonds contains 1.1 milligrams of vitamin B2, which is 88% of the daily amount.


Every 100 grams of avocados contains 0.1 milligrams of vitamin B2, equivalent to 10% of the daily amount.

Fortified tofu

100 grams provide 0.4 milligrams of vitamin B2 or 34% of the daily amount.

Other sources of vitamin B2 or riboflavin

Bread, fortified cereals, kidneys, liver, legumes, and dairy products.

People at risk of riboflavin deficiency

There are several categories of people at risk of developing vitamin B2 deficiency, including the following: [10]

Pregnant and breastfeeding women and infants

A gradual decrease in vitamin B2 occurs during the last three months of pregnancy, especially in women who consume small amounts of vitamin B2. That may cause side effects on the health of the mother and her baby.

Also, infants born to mothers suffering from a deficiency of vitamin B2, in turn, suffer from a deficiency of riboflavin or suffer from some birth defects.


Vitamin B2 deficiency occurs a lot among teenagers, especially girls. During teenage girls’ consumption of milk and dairy products decreased.

Older adults

The body needs more vitamin B2 with age due to the reduced efficiency of its absorption.


Vigorous exercise increases vitamin B2 depletion, so athletes greatly need it to exercise. On the other hand, studies have not proven that vitamin B2 supplementation increases performance in healthy people.

Other people

People with anorexia

Those with lactose intolerance, that is, those who do not consume milk or any dairy products. [11]

People with BVVL syndrome.

People who follow vegan diets.

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