Vitamin B2 is not without reason called the elixir of energy and vitality, because this substance is an irreplaceable participant in energy metabolism, metabolism and other vital processes, without which normal human well-being is impossible. This vitamin coordinates the work of the nervous system, brain activity, keeps the body in good shape and helps to resist the toxic effects of the external environment.
Despite the fact that the intestinal microflora is able to synthesize a small amount of B2, this concentration is clearly not enough to meet the internal needs of the body, and therefore it is extremely important to monitor the intake of the vitamin with the daily diet. What is remarkable about this substance, how to get it in sufficient quantities and what is the risk of a lack of vitamin B2 for humans? A small medical educational program will help you understand the peculiarities of the vitamin status and find out how to provide the body with everything it needs, while maintaining health and good spirits.
Vitamin B2: physical and chemical features
Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, refers to water-soluble substances that do not accumulate in body tissues and are easily excreted by the urinary system. This property has both positive and negative aspects. On the one hand, riboflavin obtained from natural sources (that is, with food) is absolutely non-toxic and cannot cause extremely severe symptoms of hypervitaminosis, since its surplus is simply excreted from the body in the urine without negative impact. On the other hand, the inability to accumulate implies that the intake of vitamin B2 must be constant, otherwise the lack of the substance can adversely affect the state of health, causing the clinical manifestations of hypovitaminosis.
Due to its unique rich yellow-orange color, riboflavin can be used as a colorant, but its bitter taste requires careful use of the substance in the food industry. The peculiarities of the color of the pigment can be noticed even if you simply overdo it with the use of natural sources of the vitamin – being excreted in the urine, it will color it in a bright orange hue. However, such a feature should in no case be frightening or even alarming – this sign only indicates the quality of the kidneys and is not a side effect.
In an acidic environment, vitamin B2 molecules exhibit increased stability, but alkali is capable of destroying a substance in a matter of seconds. The same applies to ultraviolet light: sunlight, falling on food, reduces the riboflavin content by at least half. On the other hand, high temperatures are absolutely not dangerous for vitamin B2: the concentration of the substance in products does not decrease too pronouncedly with moderate heat treatment.
What is vitamin B2 for?
Riboflavin is one of the most important substances in the human body. Its key role in maintaining control over the nervous system is not compensated by any other substances, which means that insufficient intake of vitamin B2 will affect the body almost instantly. Riboflavin has an effect on visual function: it prevents the appearance of signs of cataracts and regulates the accommodation of the eyeball. In addition, the substance improves cellular metabolism in the tissues of the nervous system, serves as the prevention of psychosomatic pathologies, helps to adequately respond to nervous tension and stressful situations, reduces unmotivated excitability, soothes and improves sleep.
Vitamin B2 is also extremely important for the digestive system. It regulates the processes of lipid metabolism in the intestine, stimulates the secretion of bile, takes an active part in energy metabolism, relieves mechanical damage to the gastrointestinal mucosa and stimulates the adequate absorption of other groups of vitamins (especially B6).
As for the cardiovascular system, riboflavin also plays an important role here. Adequate intake of vitamin B2 thins the blood, thereby preventing thrombus formation, strengthens the vascular bed, normalizes blood pressure and ensures the normal functioning of the heart muscle.
In addition, vitamin B2 refers to substances that directly affect the preservation of youth and beauty, for which modern cosmetologists love it so much. A sufficient amount of this substance, regularly supplied with food, is an excellent substrate for moisturizing and nourishing the skin, nail plates and hair follicles. Riboflavin improves the elasticity of the dermis, prevents the appearance of wrinkles, thinning, fading and dullness of the skin.
Daily value of riboflavin
|Category||Age||Vitamin B2 (mg)|
|7 months – 1 year||0.8|
|11-14 years old||1.6|
|Men||15-18 years old||1.8|
|19-59 years old||1.5|
|60-75 years old||1.7|
|76 years and older||1.6|
|Women||15-18 years old||1.5|
|19-59 years old||1.3|
|60-75 years old||1.5|
|76 years and older||1.4|
How to recognize a vitamin B2 deficiency
B2 hypovitaminosis symptoms develop rather quickly. The first manifestations affect the skin and the nervous system – they are the ones who need riboflavin every day. The initial stage of vitamin B2 deficiency can be recognized by the following signs:
- inhibition of natural processes of brain activity: memory impairment, absent-mindedness, inattention to trifles, problems with coordination and fine motor skills;
- low stress resistance, irritability, sleep disturbance, weakness and apathy;
- visual impairment: pathological reaction to light (pain in the eyes, tearing, “white spots” that do not pass for a long time after looking at the light source), poor visibility in twilight lighting;
- damage to the skin: dryness and pallor of the skin, frequent irritation, rash, inflammatory reactions to the mucous membranes of the lips, tongue, cracks in the corners of the mouth, behind the ears, under the nose, peeling of the epidermis;
- frequent headaches, aversion to food, general depletion of the body’s vital reserves.
If you ignore these alarm bells and do not pay attention to a competent diet rich in foods with vitamin B2, the deterioration of hypovitaminosis can lead to more serious pathologies. Damage to the nervous system can develop into attacks of pathological anxiety, insomnia, depression and other psychosomatic abnormalities. Skin problems will also become deeper and more serious: hair loss, dermatitis, painful stomatitis, delamination and fragility of the nail plates can join them. Vision problems will develop into conjunctivitis and can lead to the development of cataracts. Damage to the gastrointestinal tract will lead to improper absorption of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, including iron, which, in turn, can cause anemia. In addition, prolonged B2 hypovitaminosis is usually accompanied by hypertension, weakness of the heart muscle.
What is the threat of B2 hypervitaminosis
A toxic excess of riboflavin can develop only when taking high doses of a synthetic drug or a bioactive supplement enriched with vitamin B2, while the substance entering the body with food is easily absorbed, and its excess is simply excreted in the urine without causing the slightest harm. Symptoms of hypervitaminosis include numbness in the fingers and toes, weakness, dizziness, and possibly a burning sensation and itching in the extremities. All these symptoms are transient and pass on their own over time, however, prolonged use of uncontrollably high doses of medication riboflavin can develop into fatty liver and cerebral insufficiency, which will require additional and rather serious complex treatment.
Knowing the daily needs of the body, it is easy to calculate the required minimum of food products that should be on the table every day. However, it should be borne in mind that the calculations carried out will reflect a minimal picture, which is far from always sufficient: the variability of the concentration of vitamins depends not only on the specific type of food, but also on the characteristics of its growth, storage and preparation. Therefore, you can safely increase the resulting portion size by one and a half to two times, especially since B2 hypervitaminosis practically does not occur.
|Product||Vitamin B2 content in 100 g of product|
|Dried bakery yeast||3|
|Fresh baker’s yeast||1.7|
|Champignons, cocoa beans||0.45|
|Broccoli, rose hips, peanuts||0.3|
|Spinach, white cabbage||0.25|
|Wheat flour, cauliflower, asparagus||0.23|
|Buckwheat groats, walnuts, cashews||0.13|
Such a long list of natural sources of riboflavin allows you to easily provide the necessary amount of vitamin to each family member. However, it is worth taking into account not only the rational choice of food, but also the correctness of its preparation. Cooking, stewing and other types of heat treatment will not affect the concentration of the required substance in the dish, but long-term storage in direct sunlight will almost halve the usefulness of vitamin B2. The same can be said about long-term storage of ready-made food in the refrigerator: in just 12 hours, the riboflavin content will be almost equal to zero.
Taking these simple precautions into account, you can easily create an adequate menu and provide yourself and your loved ones with healthy, complete and fortified food!