Vegetables: Lima beans, beet greens, broccoli, chick peas (garbanzos), escarole, cabbage, mustard greens, soybeans, spinach, turnip greens and watercress.

Fruits and Nuts: Dried apricots, blueberries, mangoes, dried prunes, tangerines and peanuts.

Fish and Meat: Beef, beef heart, beef kidney, veal kidney, mutton kidney, beef, calf, lamb liver and pork.

Grains-, Rye germ and wheat germ.

Dairy Products: Cheese, whole eggs, egg yolks, whole milk, dried milk and malted milk.

Herbs: Bladderwrack, fenugreek and saffron.

Natural Supplements: Yeast, rice bran, dulse and kelp.

Unit of Potency

Riboflavin is measured in three forms: the Sherman-Bourquin Unit, U.S.P. and milligram. It is commonly sold by milligram dosage.

History and Characteristics

An orange-yellow crystalline powder, riboflavin, or vitamin B-2, is referred to as the "old yellow enzyme" because it was discovered as the pigment in milk. It is not affected by dilute acids or air, but alkalies will bring about its destruction. It is water-soluble. Ordinary light makes it unstable, and ultraviolet radiation will cause its decomposition. It is stable to heat except in alkaline compounds or solutions.

Riboflavin forms a reaction with protein to create flavoprotein, essential in cellular respiration. The vitamin is converted into two coenzymes—flavin mononucleotide (FMN) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD), both found in the liver. Riboflavin is a coferment (coenzyme) to phosphorus. It also regulates the sodium-potassium exchange of cells and helps break down and assimilate carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It is needed for proper assimilation of iron into the body as well.

Riboflavin is easily assimilated through the walls of the small intestine. It is carried through the circulatory system and then excreted in the urine. Small amounts are stored in the heart, liver and kidneys, but the vitamin must be resupplied on a daily basis through a sound diet.

Allies: Riboflavin is more effective when taken with all the vitamin B complex, especially vitamin B-6, niacin, biotin and folic acid, as well as vitamin C, which helps protect against oxidation.

Antagonists: Any glass or plastic container for milk will produce a loss of riboflavin because the container is irradiated to give the milk vitamin D, and the ultraviolet light kills riboflavin. The clearness of a milk container also helps destroy riboflavin because of the normal light reaching the milk. Moreover, cooking, blanching and freezing foods that contain riboflavin will destroy the vitamin's beneficial effects. Riboflavin also loses potency when antibiotics or alcohol is placed in the body. And oral contraceptives may iower the levels of the vitamin in the body.


Recommended Daily Allowance: Infants 0-1/6 yrs. 0.4 mg. 1/6-1/2 yrs. 0.5 mg. 1/2-1 yrs. 0.6 mg.

Children 1-2 yrs. 0.6 mg. 2-3 yrs. 0.7 mg. 3-4 yrs. 0.8 mg. 4-6 yrs. 0.9 mg. 6-8 yrs. 1.1 mg. 8-10 yrs. 1.2 mg. Men 10-12 yrs. 1.3 mg. 12-14 yrs. 1.4mg. 14-18 yrs. 1.5 mg. 18-22 yrs. 1.6 mg. 22-75+ yrs. 1.7 mg. Women 10-12 yrs. 1.3 mg. 12-16 yrs. 1.4 mg. 16-75 + yrs, 1.5 mg.

Pregnant Women 1.8 mg. Lactating Women 2.0 mg.

Therapeutic Dose: Dr. Tom Spies of the Nutrition Clinic of the Hillman Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama, has treated more than 5,000 people with deficiencies of riboflavin. His figures indicate that a daily intake of the vitamin should be around 3.5 milligrams daily. Other doctors have used 25 milligrams.

Megadose: Under a physician's guidance 25 to 50 milligrams are recommended.


There is no known level of toxicity of riboflavin; however, prolonged use of a a dosage of 25 milligrams or more can induce high urinary loss of other B vitamins, especially vitamin B-6.

Deficiency Symptoms

Some of the most common signs of a deficiency of riboflavin are cracks and sores at the corners of the mouth—in medical terms, angular stomatitis associated with transverse fissures. The lips will have an abnormal shiny redness of the mucous membrane. There will also be a scaling or "sharkskin" appearance of the skin around the nose and eyes and occasionally over the ears. The tongue may be a purplish or magenta, swollen, painful and bright. A mild deficiency may produce whiteheads on the skin, and the hair and skin may become oily: a dosage of from five to fifteen milligrams daily has been used to clear up such conditions.

Although the flaking off of skin usually occurs on the facial area, the scrotum or vulva may also be affected. Many women who suffer several times a year from pain during intercourse plus inflammation and itching in the vaginal area have contracted an ail ment known as trichomonas (vaginitis) caused by a deficiency of riboflavin. This annoying ailment responds dramatically to as few as six milligrams a day of riboflavin.

A deficiency of riboflavin can also produce problems with the eyes. The eyes may show abnormal reaction to light, have bulbar conjunctivitis, burn, feel as though grit or sand is beneath the lids or undergo changes in the cornea. Most noticeable are bloodshot eyes because the riboflavin, necessary to carry oxygen to the small vessels, is missing. Other eye symptoms include watering, the accumulation of bits of mucus at the base of the lashes (especially during sleep) and splitting at the outer corners of the skin around the eyes. As few as five milligrams daily has helped clear up a variety of the above problems.

Finally, a deficiency of riboflavin is associated with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This disease occurs when the liver is unable to produce the enzymes to inactivate insulin. The excess insulin remains in the blood, causing fat to be formed and the blood sugar to fall. Without adequate riboflavin symptoms of trembling, dizziness or sluggishness will occur three to five hours after a meal. If protein is not ingested immediately, the symptoms will continue until fainting or a comatose state may occur, which if severe enough can bring on death. This condition is fortunately highly correctable through proper diet and a good, continuing supply of riboflavin and pantothenic acid.

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