Recent Clinical Developments

There has been considerable speculation that riboflavin helps prevent damage to the fetus. In tests rats deficient in riboflavin had offspring with foreshortened limbs. Since the vitamin is essential in the utilization of oxygen to produce energy, fetal activity may be impaired and deformities may develop with insufficient amounts. A lack of riboflavin can also increase the teratogenicity (fetal-damage potential) of certain drugs. If drugs must be used during pregnancy, a physician should make sure the patient is on an optimum diet to insure proper amounts of riboflavin and a healthy fetus.

Although anemia is usually associated with a lack of folic acid or iron in the body, a deficiency of riboflavin can also create the condition. A lack of riboflavin halts the coenzymes from joining and fewer red blood cells are produced for use. Furthermore, with a diet high in iron but lacking in vitamin B-12 and other vitamins of the B complex, the stomach is unable to secrete hydrochloric acid to dissolve the iron. Anemia then becomes a potential disease.

High blood pressure can also be related to a lack of riboflavin. One of the vitamins instrumental in lowering sodium to acceptable levels is riboflavin. One of the reasons for high blood pressure is an imbalance of sodium and potassium: too much sodium in the body will cause potassium to be expelled through the urine.

In addition, experiments with rats have shown that deficiencies of riboflavin can bring about cancer in the lymph glands or liver. When the rats were given sufficient amounts of the vitamin, cancer was delayed from further development. The experiments have also indicated a close relationship between cancer and the balance of riboflavin and vitamin B-6 in the body. Cancers developed when vitamin B-6 was missing. When the rats were given vitamin B-6 in megadoses, they excreted riboflavin, increasing cancer growth. Similarly, megadoses of riboflavin induced deficiencies of vitamin B-6 and allowed tumors to grow rapidly.

A deficiency of riboflavin can indirectly add to the sluggish output of the adrenal glands, too. With decreased activity of the adrenal cortex, a person may not be able to handle stress well.

Unlike many of the other B complex vitamins, extra riboflavin is not needed if a person increases the amount of carbohydrate consumption.

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