Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Riboflavin present in all liv­ing cells, which means that it can be found in just about any whole food. Riboflavin plays a cru­cial role in ener­gy metab­o­lism, so it is essen­tial to life. Although riboflavin is essen­tial to life, riboflavin defi­cien­cy isn’t asso­ci­at­ed with a clas­sic defi­cien­cy syn­drome, like beriberi or pel­la­gra. On the oth­er hand, peo­ple with riboflavin defi­cien­cy often have defi­cien­cies of the oth­er B vit­a­mins, as well.

The usu­al signs of riboflavin defi­cien­cy include cracked and red lips, espe­cial­ly with cracks at the cor­ners of the mouth (angu­lar cheili­tis). There may also be mouth ulcers and inflam­ma­tion of the lin­ing of the mouth, as well as a sore throat. The eyes may become itchy, watery, blood­shot, and over­ly sen­si­tive to bright light. Riboflavin defi­cien­cy can also cause dry and scal­ing skin, espe­cial­ly on the scro­tum. Some­times these signs are sum­ma­rized by the term oral-ocu­lar-gen­i­tal syn­drome. Chron­ic defi­cien­cy of riboflavin can stunt the growth of chil­dren. Riboflavin defi­cien­cy may also be part of the cause of Parkin­son dis­ease.

Riboflavin defi­cien­cy is usu­al­ly found in peo­ple who are gen­er­al­ly mal­nour­ished. This includes alco­holics, anorex­i­cs, and peo­ple who have trou­ble absorb­ing nutri­ents from their food.  The use of oral con­tra­cep­tives may increase the risk of riboflavin defi­cien­cy. Since riboflavin can be destroyed by light, riboflavin sup­ple­ments are giv­en to new­borns who are being treat­ed with ultra­vi­o­let light ther­a­py for neona­tal jaun­dice. The ultra­vi­o­let light breaks down the riboflavin along with the biliru­bin.