Can you overdose on vitamin b2

Contents

Vitamin B2

Generic Name: riboflavin (vitamin B2) (RYE bow flay vin)
Brand Name: B2-400, Vitamin B2

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Jul 31, 2019 – Written by Cerner Multum

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What is Vitamin B2?

Vitamin B2 is vitamin B2. Vitamins are naturally occurring substances necessary for many processes in the body. This medicine is important in the maintenance of many tissues of the body.

Vitamin B2 is used to treat or prevent deficiencies of riboflavin.

Vitamin B2 may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Before taking this medicine

Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to use Vitamin B2 if you have other medical conditions, especially:

  • gallbladder disease; or

  • cirrhosis or other liver disease.

Vitamin B2 is considered likely safe to use during pregnancy, but your dose needs may be different during this time. You should not use this medicine without a doctor’s advice if you are pregnant.

Vitamin B2 is considered possibly safe to use while nursing, and your dose needs may be different during this time. Do not use this medicine without a doctor’s advice if you are breast-feeding.

Do not give Vitamin B2 to a child without medical advice.

How should I take Vitamin B2?

Use exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

The recommended dietary allowance of riboflavin increases with age. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. You may also consult the Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health, or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrient Database (formerly “Recommended Daily Allowances”) listings for more information.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking Vitamin B2?

Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

Vitamin B2 side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor if you have diarrhea or increased urination. These could be signs that you are using too much Vitamin B2.

Vitamin B2 may cause your urine to turn a yellow-orange color, but this is usually not a harmful side effect.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Vitamin B2?

Other drugs may interact with riboflavin, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 3.02.

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More about Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

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Consumer resources

Other brands: B2-400

Professional resources

  • Riboflavin (AHFS Monograph)

Related treatment guides

  • Migraine Prevention
  • Headache
  • Dietary Supplementation
  • Vitamin/Mineral Supplementation and Deficiency

Some individuals subscribe to the thought that, “if a little is a good thing, a lot is better.”

That may be true in some activities and some circumstances when it comes to your health, but with optimal vitamin intake and supplementation that’s simply not true.

According to Medscape, the majority of Americans consider vitamins safe, and that belief alone can increase the likelihood of taking too many, as there is no perceived risk in the minds of many people.

The truth is, too much of certain vitamins can lead to a vitamin overdose, which can be dangerous and, in some cases, life threatening.

That is certainly not true with many vitamins – you’re safe with a multivitamin that covers about 100% of the Daily Value (DV) for all vitamins and minerals. Daily Values are the levels of vitamins and minerals set by the Food and Drug Administration for the general population.

But there are some nutrients to be careful with…

Common vitamins and vitamin overdose symptoms

Vitamin D

Recently, there’s been a lot of buzz about vitamin D deficiency and the problems vitamin D deficiency can cause in individuals, and for good reason.

Vitamin D, known as “the sunshine vitamin,” is primarily responsible for the regulation of calcium and phosphorus in the bones.* Without vitamin D, you’d be a softy – quite literally!

Coupled with a lack of calcium intake and physical activity, your bones would likely become soft and weak over time, increasing the risk of osteoporosis, discomfort in the bones, and even a greater risk of broken bones!

But, pay attention – while vitamin D overdose is extremely rare, there is such a thing as too much. Too much vitamin D can lead to a vitamin overdose and can cause permanent damage to your kidneys and heart.

Vitamin D overdose symptoms can lead to bothersome health issues, although perhaps temporary, include nausea, vomiting, alternating constipation and diarrhea. Sometimes vitamin D overdose can even result in dangerous heart rhythm abnormalities.

In addition, a vitamin D overdose in pregnancy has been shown to increase the potential of mental retardation in babies. Though the recommended daily requirement of vitamin D is around 1,000 IU, many doctors believe this is too low and regularly prescribe more to those who are vitamin D deficient.

So how much is too much vitamin D?

It has been shown that taking 40,000 IU of vitamin D in infants and 50,000 IU in adults for several months can cause toxicity. Make no mistake, that is a lot of vitamin D!

The best way to determine the appropriate amount of vitamin D for you and avoid overdose is to avoid so-called mega-dosing, consult your own healthcare professional, and have your levels tested.

If you are pregnant, make sure that you follow your healthcare professional’s guidelines for safe vitamin D supplementation to avoid a vitamin D overdose.

Vitamin B

We hear a lot about B vitamins, a group of 8 distinct vitamins, each responsible for aiding various functions in the body. The functions of the vitamin B group range from supporting the rate of metabolism, promotion of healthy skin and hair, as well as memory support.*

Since the vitamin B group is responsible for all of that good stuff, can you really get too much resulting in a vitamin B overdose?

With some of the B vitamins, unfortunately, yes. In fact, a vitamin B6 overdose can lead to nerve toxicity, while B3 can lead to nausea, jaundice, and liver toxicity. Too much folic acid, too, can mask the symptoms of a B12 deficiency.

So how much is too much vitamin B?

Typically, 300 mg of B6 is scary territory, while 2000 mg of B3 is risky. For folate, the Institute of Medicine recommends adult men and women not consume more than 1000 mg per day. In order to avoid a vitamin B overdose, make sure you consult your healthcare professional.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A supplementation may enable you to delay getting reading glasses since it supports the function of the human eye, but a severe vitamin A overdose can actually cause death.*

Normally, a vitamin A overdose progresses slowly as it accumulates in the body, particularly since it is a fat-soluble vitamin and is stored in your fat cells. The initial signs of a vitamin A overdose may emerge as rather benign health issues: dry, rough skin, cracked lips, and hair loss.

Latter symptoms of vitamin A overdose may include irritability, headache, high level of liver enzyme in blood, and liver disease. In addition to a slow progressing vitamin A overdose, there is such a thing as an acute vitamin A overdose.

This is a far more serious type of vitamin overdose with symptoms ranging from vomiting, high pressure in the brain, and even death.

How much is too much vitamin A?

The vitamin A recommended daily dose for children 4 to 8 years old is 3000 IU and for adults is 10,000 IU. Staying within these limits is advised, but it is best to check with your healthcare professional to determine what is best for you.

If you’re taking a supplement, it’s also important to consider which form of vitamin is in your multivitamins.

Beta carotene is the most important provitamin A (found mostly in vegetables) and is converted to vitamin A as needed in the body. As a result, it’s not associated with the same toxicity risks as preformed vitamin A.

For this reason, we use a 50/50 beta-carotene/retinyl palmitate blend because it helps moderate your intake of vitamin A. With our premium 50/50 mix, your body will only convert beta carotene to vitamin A as needed, based on your individual levels of this essential vitamin.

We include this beta-carotene/retinyl palmitate blend in our SmartyPants Organic formulas and SmartyPants core line formulas.

Iron

Probably one the most widely known and one of the most dangerous vitamin overdoses, particularly for children, is an iron overdose. While iron is necessary for red blood cells and the prevention of anemia, an iron overdose can lead to death, and is actually the leading cause of fatal poisoning in children younger than 5.

This is the major reason why we don’t put iron in our gummies. However, you can find iron in our multivitamin capsule Men’s, Women’s and Prenatal Formulas.

The best source of iron is from foods like spinach, sweet potatoes, whole wheat bread, strawberries, and eggs.

If your healthcare professional tells you that you or your child still need more iron, using liquid iron with a dropper will allow you to control the iron levels and has no appeal to kids as a treat.

How much is too much iron?

The recommended daily requirement of iron for adults varies depending on age. The same goes for the recommended daily requirement for children.

What to do if you suspect a vitamin overdose

Depending on the severity of the health issues, a vitamin overdose may not be cause for immediate alarm. If the health issues aren’t life threatening or life altering, simply reduce or discontinue the use of a daily multivitamin.

However, if you have any concerns for you or your family member, contact a healthcare professional sooner than later. Most vitamin overdose problems occur in children under six years of age.

If acute life threatening symptoms appear, seek medical assistance immediately.

Storage of supplements is also important for every household. It helps to select a product with a Child Resistant Cap for extra safety.

Vitamin supplementation could be an important part of a healthy lifestyle, provided there are no underlying health issues. The risk of overdose in many of the vitamins listed are low – in fact, deficiency and insufficiency is the struggle with each most of us face.

Even so, overdose is a potential for those of us who, when attempting to correct our insufficiency, go overboard.

As always, before implementing any vitamin regimen, seek the advice of a healthcare professional to insure the safety of your health!

So how can you be sure SmartyPants supplements are safe?

We create each and every product with our own children in mind. The safety of our products is a top priority at SmartyPants.

From start to finish, our internal Quality Assurance team is working hard to make sure that all our products meet and (hopefully) exceed the rigorous standards that we promise our customers.

Furthermore, SmartyPants is unique in the industry for focusing on the nutrients that are the toughest to obtain from our diets alone to help fill those dietary gaps.

We always recommend you get nutrients from food first, so we formulate our products to complement the average American diet, not replace it.

That means that we include safe amounts of vitamins and minerals in our products. After all, we believe it’s important to focus on how all of the available scientific research provides a story to shape the recommendations for how much of each nutrient we should eat daily.

Our supplements only use FDA GRAS (generally recognized as safe) ingredients, and every batch of finished product third-party lab tested for quality assurance.

So you can always trust that what’s on the label is what’s inside the bottle.

We care about each and every ingredient that goes into SmartyPants.
You can learn more about our testing and ingredient selection process here.

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Posted on October 5, 2012. Updated December 2019.

What is vitamin B2?

Vitamin B2 is also known as riboflavin. It is a coenzyme, which means it is involved in a variety of reactions in the body.

Why do I need vitamin B2?

Vitamin B2 releases energy from protein, carbohydrate and fat.

It transports and metabolises iron in the body.

Vitamin B2 is required for maintaining the structure and function of mucous membranes and the skin.

How much vitamin B2 do I need?

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin B2 in the UK is 1.3mg a day for men and 1.1mg a day for women.

What happens if I don’t have enough vitamin B2?

Vitamin B2 deficiency is also known as ariboflavinosis.

Deficiency of vitamin B2 is not fatal as it is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that it is stored and utilised efficiently by the body.

Vitamin B2 deficiency can cause the following symptoms:

  • dryness and cracking of the skin around the nose and mouth
  • red, dry tongue – called magenta tongue
  • skin rash
  • anaemia
  • weakness and fatigue
  • vision problems – red, sore or watering eyes, blurred vision and sensitivity to light.

Elderly people, chronically ill individuals and alcoholics may have an increased susceptibility to vitamin B2 deficiency.

Contraceptive pills reduce the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B2, so women who take oral contraception may benefit from vitamin B2 supplementation.

Where is vitamin B2 found?

Vitamin B2 is found in milk, eggs, rice, fortified breakfast cereals, liver, legumes, mushrooms and green vegetables.

What are the effects of cooking on vitamin B2?

Light can destroy vitamin B2 in solution, so keep these foods out of direct sunlight.

When cooking, it is important to use fresh food, steam rather than boil and avoid overly long cooking times to preserve vitamins.

Do I need to take vitamin B2 supplement?

The Department of Health advises that you should be able to obtain all the vitamin B2 you need from a healthy balanced diet.

Women who take the oral contraceptive pill are advised to take a vitamin B2 supplement as the Pill decreases the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B2.

If you do decide to take a vitamin B2 supplement, take no more than 40mg a day.

What are the side effects and safety precautions of taking a vitamin B2 supplement?

Vitamin B2 supplements are considered to be likely safe for most people.

Vitamin B2 can cause urine to have a yellow-orange colour in some people.

When taken in high doses, vitamin B2 supplements may cause diarrhoea or increased urine output.

Pregnant women should take no more than 1.4mg of vitamin B2 a day, while breastfeeding women should take no more than 1.6mg a day.

Allergy to vitamin B2 supplements is rare. It causes hives, breathing difficulty and swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat.

Keep all vitamin supplements in a cool, dry place and away from humidity and direct sunlight.

What happens if I take too much vitamin B2?

There is not enough evidence to confirm the health risks of taking too much vitamin B2 in a supplement form.

Any vitamin B2 that isn’t used by the body is excreted in urine. No toxic or adverse reactions to vitamin B2 have been reported.

Do vitamin B2 supplements have any drug interactions?

Vitamin B2 interacts with the following drugs::

  • anticholinergic drugs
  • doxorubicin
  • methotrexate
  • antibiotics – tetracycline
  • antiepileptic drugs – phenytoin
  • tricyclic antidepressants
  • diuretics
  • medications used to treat gout.

Want to know more about vitamins and minerals?

Vitamin A: Vitamin A can be found in carrots and green, leafy vegetables.

Vitamin B3: Eggs are a good source of vitamin B3 as well as protein.

Vitamin B2: Women who take oral contraception may benefit from vitamin B2 supplementation.

Vitamin B5: Using fresh food while cooking helps to preserve vitamins.

Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 is involved in maintaing a healthy level of homocysteine, which decreases risk of heart disease.

Vitamin B7: Vitamin B7 deficiency can be caused be eating raw egg whites over many years.

Vitamin B9: Brown rice, green vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals are good sources of vitamin B9.

Vitamin C: Citrus fruits are a good source of vitamin C.

Vitamin D: Individuals with low vitamin D levels are at risk of developing health problems linked to vitamin D deficiency, such as osteomalacia.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E is one of four lipid-soluble vitamins (vitamin A, D and K).

Vitamin K: Your baby should receive a vitamin K injection or drops soon after birth.

Calcium: The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium in the UK is 700mg a day for adults and pregnant women.

Iron: Iron is involved in energy metabolism and the metabolism of drugs and foreign substances being removed by the body.

Magnesium: A low level of magnesium in the blood is common in people who are severely ill, alcoholics and those with malabsorption disorders.

Phosphorus: Phosphorus is a mineral required by the body. It is the second most abundant mineral in the body.

Sodium: Sodium makes up sodium chloride – otherwise known as salt.

Last updated 06.08.2014

Riboflavin

Class: Vitamin B Complex
ATC Class: A11HA04
VA Class: VT106
CAS Number: 83-88-5

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jul 22, 2019.

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Introduction

Water-soluble, B complex vitamin.a b

Uses for Riboflavin

Riboflavin Deficiency

Used to prevent and treat riboflavin deficiency (ariboflavinosis).a b

Riboflavin deficiency may occur in patients with long-standing infections, liver disease, alcoholism, malignancy, cardiac disease, diabetes mellitus, and those taking probenecid.a

Dietary Requirements

Adequate intake needed to prevent riboflavin deficiency (ariboflavinosis).101 b

Adequate intake of riboflavin usually can be accomplished through consumption of foodstuffs, including milk, bread products, and fortified cereals.101 b

Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) and Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) in adults based on a combination of criteria including erythrocyte glutathione reductase activity and urinary excretion of riboflavin.101 b

Adequate intake (AI) established for infants ≤6 months of age based on riboflavin intake of infants fed principally human milk;b AI for infants 7–12 months of age based on the AI for younger infants and data from adults.b

EAR and RDA for children 1–18 years of age based on data in adults.101 b

Urinalysis Marker

Used as a urine marker when mixed with various drugs to test for patient compliance with the therapeutic regimen of these drugs.a

Migraine Headaches

Has been used for prophylaxis of migraine headache† to decrease the frequency and duration of attacks.102

Riboflavin Dosage and Administration

General

  • Correct poor dietary habits and consider a multivitamin preparation containing riboflavin in patients with vitamin deficiencies since poor dietary habits often result in concurrent deficiencies.a

Administration

Administer orally.a e

May be given by IM injection or IV infusion as a component of a multivitamin injection.a A parenteral formulation containing riboflavin alone is not currently commercially available.a

Oral Administration

Administer orally, preferably with food.e

Dosage

Pediatric Patients

Riboflavin Deficiency (Ariboflavinosis)

Usually, 3–10 mg daily.a

Dietary and Replacement Requirements

Infants <6 months of age: AI is 0.3 mg (0.04 mg/kg) daily.101

Infants 6–12 months of age: AI is 0.4 mg (0.04 mg/kg) daily.101

Children 1–3 years of age: RDA is 0.5 mg daily.101

Children 4–8 years of age: RDA is 0.6 mg daily.101

Children 9–13 years of age: RDA is 0.9 mg daily.101

Girls 14–19 years of age: RDA is 1 mg daily.101

Boys 14–19 years of age: RDA is 1.3 mg daily.101

Adults

Usually, 5–30 mg daily given in divided doses.a

Patients with normocytic, normochromic anemia: 10 mg daily usually increases reticulocyte count within a few days.a

Women ≥19 years of age: RDA is 1.1 mg daily.101

Men ≥19 years of age: RDA is 1.3 mg daily.101

These RDAs will not meet the needs of individuals with severe malabsorption.101 b

Migraine Headaches†

400 mg daily; maximal benefit may occur after 3 months of prophylaxis therapy.102

Special Populations

Pregnant women: RDA is 1.4 mg daily.101 Riboflavin intake exceeding this RDA may be needed by women who are pregnant with more than one fetus.101 b

Lactating women: RDA is 1.6 mg daily.101 Riboflavin intake exceeding this RDA may be needed by mothers nursing more than one infant.101 b

May require additional riboflavin intake in patients who are extremely physically active.b

Renal Impairment

Patients undergoing hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis may require additional riboflavin.b

Cautions for Riboflavin

Contraindications

  • Known hypersensitivity to riboflavin or any ingredient in the formulation.c

Warnings/Precautions

Warnings

Concomitant Diseases

Increased riboflavin deficiency risk in patients with cancer, cardiac disease, or diabetes mellitus.b

General Precautions

Fixed-Combination Preparations

Consider the cautions, precautions, and contraindications associated with other drug(s) and vitamins in fixed-combination preparations.c

Specific Populations

Pregnancy

Category A.d Category C (for dosages >RDA).d (See Special Populations under Dosage and Administration.)

Lactation

Distributed into human milk.101 a d

Common Adverse Effects

Usually nontoxic even in large doses.a b

Interactions for Riboflavin

Specific Drugs and Laboratory Tests

Drug or Test

Interaction

Aminoglyosides (kanamycin, streptomycin)

Possible decreased antibiotic activity c

Bleomycin

Inactivated in vitro by riboflavinc

Erythromycin

Possible decreased antibiotic activity c

Probenecid

Decreased absorption of riboflavina

Propantheline

Propantheline may delay the rate of riboflavin absorption, but increase the total amount absorbed a

Spectrometry or color reaction urinalysis

Possible color interferencea

Tests for catecholamines

Possible false elevations in fluorometric determinations of plasma or urinary catecholaminesa

Tests for urobilinogen

Possible false elevations in fluorometric determinations of plasma or urinary urobilinogena

Riboflavin Pharmacokinetics

Absorption

Bioavailability

Readily absorbed from the upper GI tract.a b Rate of absorption is proportional to intake.b

Onset

Therapeutic response in riboflavin-deficient patients may require several days for ocular and dermatologic manifestations of deficiency to improve.a

Following oral administration in deficient patients with normocytic, normochromic anemia, an increase in reticulocyte count usually occurs within a few days.a

Food

Food increases extent of absorption.a b

Extent of absorption is decreased in patients with hepatitis, cirrhosis, or biliary obstruction.a

Distribution

Extent

Widely distributed into most tissues, including GI mucosal cells, erythrocytes, and the liver as riboflavin 5-phosphate (flavin mononucleotide ) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD).a b Free riboflavin is present in the retina.a

Stored in limited amounts in the liver, spleen, kidneys, and heart, mainly as FAD.a

Crosses the placenta and is distributed into milk.101

Plasma Protein Binding

About 60% as FAD and FMN.a

Elimination

Metabolism

Phosphorylated to FMN in GI mucosal cells, erythrocytes, and the liver; FMN is converted to FAD in the liver.a

Elimination Route

Urine (about 9%) as unchanged drug; fate of the remainder of the dose not determined.a

Half-life

Following oral or IM administration, about 66–84 minutes.a

Removal by hemodialysis is slower than normal renal excretion.a

In neonates, urinary excretion is slow; however, the cumulative amount excreted is similar to the amount excreted by older infants.b

Stability

Storage

Oral

Tablets

Tight, light-resistant containers at 15–30°C.a

Compatibility

For information on systemic interactions resulting from concomitant use, see Interactions.

Incompatible with alkaline solutions.a

Actions

  • An exogenous source of riboflavin is required for tissue respiration.a

  • Converts to coenzymes (FMN and FAD) involved in oxidation-reduction reactions of organic substrates and in intermediary metabolism.a b e

  • Flavocoenzymes are involved in the formation of some vitamins and their coenzymes, including niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.101 b

  • Indirectly involved in maintaining erythrocyte integrity.a

Advice to Patients

  • Importance of proper dietary habits, including taking appropriate AI or RDA of vitamin B2.

  • Inform patients that large doses of riboflavin can result in bright yellow urine.a

  • Importance of women informing clinicians if they are or plan to become pregnant or plan to breast-feed.b

  • Importance of informing clinicians of existing or contemplated concomitant therapy, including prescription and OTC drugs.b

  • Importance of informing patients of other important precautionary information. (See Cautions.)

Preparations

Excipients in commercially available drug preparations may have clinically important effects in some individuals; consult specific product labeling for details.

Please refer to the ASHP Drug Shortages Resource Center for information on shortages of one or more of these preparations.

Riboflavin, riboflavin 5-phosphate, and riboflavin 5-phosphate sodium are also commercially available in combination with other vitamins, minerals, amino acids, cerebral stimulants, protein supplements, infant formulas, enzymes, hormones, sedatives, laxatives, and unsaturated fatty acids.a For IM injection, riboflavin is commercially available in combination with other vitamins and iron.a For IV infusion, riboflavin is commercially available in combination with other vitamins.a c

* available from one or more manufacturer, distributor, and/or repackager by generic (nonproprietary) name

Riboflavin

Routes

Dosage Forms

Strengths

Brand Names

Manufacturer

Bulk

Powder*

Oral

Capsules

100 mg*

Tablets

25 mg*

50 mg*

100 mg*

Sublingual

Tablets

25 mg (as flavin mononucleotide )*

Riboflavin Sublingual Tablets

AHFS DI Essentials™. © Copyright 2020, Selected Revisions August 1, 2009. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 4500 East-West Highway, Suite 900, Bethesda, Maryland 20814.

† Use is not currently included in the labeling approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Only references cited for selected revisions after 1984 are available electronically.

100. National Research Council Food and Nutrition Board Subcommittee on the Tenth Edition of the RDAs. Recommended dietary allowances. 10th ed. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 1989:132-7.

101. Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes of the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences. Dietary reference intakes for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, biotin, and choline. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 1998.

a. AHFS Drug Information 2009. McEvoy GK, ed. Riboflavin. Bethesda, MD: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists; 2009.

b. Otten JJ, Hellwig JP, Meyers LD, eds. Dietary reference intakes: the essential guide to nutritional requirements. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2006.

c. Baxter. INFUVITE Adult (Multiple vitamins for Infusion) prescribing information. Deerfield, IL; 2004 May.

d. Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in pregnancy and lactation. 7th ed. Baltimore , MD: Williams & Wilkins; 2005:1410–11.

e. Nature’s Way. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) capsules product information. Springville, UT; 2004.

Medical Disclaimer

More about riboflavin

  • Side Effects
  • En Español
  • 12 Reviews
  • Drug class: vitamins
  • Riboflavin
  • Riboflavin (Advanced Reading)
  • Riboflavin (Wolters Kluwer)
  • Migraine Prevention
  • Dietary Supplementation
  • Headache
  • Vitamin/Mineral Supplementation and Deficiency

Riboflavin is the scientific name for a vitamin and dietary supplement commonly known as vitamin B2.

Doctors may prescribe riboflavin in higher doses to help treat migraines and cancer in certain cases.

Riboflavin plays an important role in helping the body to break down the nutrients in food.

It helps the body convert complex carbohydrates, fats, and protein into forms that the body can use.

Riboflavin also helps maintain your adrenal gland, which responds to stress and helps maintain proper functioning of the nervous system.

Riboflavin deficiency is uncommon, because the vitamin is found in many readily available foods.

Low levels of riboflavin can cause the skin around your nose, and on a man’s scrotum, to peel.

Your eyes may become red and itchy, and you may find sores inside your mouth, along with a swollen tongue and thickened lining of the mouth.

Some people with riboflavin deficiency may notice that their eyes seem more sensitive to light. Other people may become anemic (low in red blood cells or hemoglobin).

Food Sources of Riboflavin

Many foods commonly eaten in the United States contain vitamin B2, such as eggs, bread, flour, meat, milk, and cheese.

Leafy green vegetables, almonds, and beef liver are also good sources of vitamin B2.

Riboflavin for Headaches

Some experts believe that riboflavin deficiency is the underlying cause of certain diseases and disorders of the body, like migraines.

According to a 1994 Belgian study of 55 migraine sufferers, 59 percent of the participants who took 400 milligrams (mg) of riboflavin a day reported having fewer migraines.

Riboflavin Warnings

Don’t take riboflavin if you’re allergic to it or any other ingredients found in the drug.

Pregnancy and Riboflavin

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rates riboflavin as completely safe to take during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, when taken in the dose recommended for your age and condition.

Any higher-than-recommended dose could have unknown effects on a pregnant woman’s unborn baby.

Pregnant women shouldn’t take more than 1.4 mg of riboflavin a day, and the recommended daily intake for breastfeeding women is 1.6 mg.

It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about all of your medications if you’re pregnant, planning a pregnancy, or breastfeeding.

Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is one of the eight B-complex vitamins. Like other B vitamins, it plays a role in energy production in the body, but also has many other important uses.

Riboflavin foods

Vitamin B2 is a water-soluble vitamin that is flushed out of the body daily, so it must be restored each day. The best way to get this vitamin is by eating foods that are rich in riboflavin. Riboflavin is found in eggs, nuts, dairy products, meats, broccoli, brewer’s yeast, Brussel sprouts, wheat germ, wild rice, mushrooms, soybeans, green leafy vegetables and whole grain and enriched cereals and bread, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Benefits

Riboflavin is a vitamin that is needed for growth and overall good health. It helps the body break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats to produce energy, and it allows oxygen to be used by the body.

“Riboflavin is also used for the development and function of the skin, lining of the digestive tract, blood cells and other vital organs,” Dr. Sherry Ross, women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, told Live Science.

Vitamin B2 is also important for eye health. According to the University of Michigan, this vitamin is needed to protect glutathione, which is an important antioxidant in the eye. The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) reports that eating a diet rich in riboflavin can lower the risk of developing cataracts. Taking supplements containing riboflavin and niacin may also be helpful in preventing cataracts.

Levels of certain vitamins, chemicals and minerals in the bloodstream seem to be dependent on healthy levels of B2, as well. For example, riboflavin changes vitamin B6 and folate (vitamin B9) into forms that the body can use. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, riboflavin is important to how the body processes iron. Without it, research shows that the body is more likely to develop anemia. Taking riboflavin can also reduce homocysteine levels in the blood by 26 to 40 percent, according to the NLM.

B2 may be important to pregnancy health, as well. According to a study by the University Women’s Hospital, Heidelberg, Germany, riboflavin deficiency may be a factor in causing preeclampsia, a condition that causes high blood pressure in late pregnancy.

Those suffering from migraines may find that taking doses of B2 may help. A study by the department of neurology of Humboldt University of Berlin found that those taking high doses of riboflavin had significantly fewer migraines.

Deficiency and dosage

Deficiency of riboflavin is rare in developed countries because it is a vitamin found in many common foods. Some people are more prone to deficiency than others. “This is more common in people on extreme diets who are underweight or those with digestive problems such as celiac disease,” Dr. Kristine Arthur, internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, told Live Science. Teens, alcoholics and the elderly are also more susceptible to vitamin B2 deficiency because of poor diet.

Deficiency can cause anemia, sore throat, mouth or lip sores, inflammation of the skin and swelling of soft tissue in the mouth. These symptoms can show up after just a few days of deficiency, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The normal recommended daily allowance (RDA) of riboflavin is dependent on age, gender and reproductive status. “RDA is 1.3 milligrams daily for men and 1.1 mg for women. A higher dose of 3 mg per day can help to prevent cataracts. Higher doses up to 400 mg can be used to treat migraine headaches,” said Arthur. A cup of chopped kale has 0.1 mg, while a hard-boiled egg has 0.3 mg and a glass of whole milk has 0.4 mg, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. One cup of whole almonds has 1.4 mg of riboflavin, or 85 percent of the RDA.

As a supplement, riboflavin is usually included in multivitamins and B-complex vitamins. It also is available separately in doses of 25 mg, 50 mg and 100 mg. Relatively nontoxic, riboflavin is considered safe at high doses because excess is disposed of through the urinary tract. There may be some side effects from taking higher doses of B2, though. “Some people notice their urine turning yellow-orange in color and having diarrhea when taken in higher doses,” said Ross.

Additional resources

  • Mayo Clinic: Riboflavin
  • Mayo Medical Laboratories: Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) and Plasma
  • Oregon State University: Riboflavin

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Bruno EJ Jr, Ziegenfuss TN. Water-soluble vitamins: research update. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2005 Aug;4(4):207-13. Review.

Colombo B, Saraceno L, Comi G. Riboflavin and migraine: the bridge over troubled mitochondria. Neurol Sci. 2014;35 Suppl 1:141-4.

Cumming RG, Mitchell P, Smith W. Diet and cataract: the Blue Mountains Eye Study. Ophthalmology. 2000;107(3):450-56.

Head KA. Natural therapies for ocular disorders, part two: cataracts and glaucoma. Altern Med Rev. 2001;6(2):141-166. Review.

James. Andrews’ Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011.

Katuzna-Czaplinska J, Socha E, Rynkowski J. B vitamin supplementation reduces excretion of urinary dicaroxylic acids in autistic children. Nutr Res. 2011;31(7):497-502.

Keligman. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011.

Maraini G, Williams SL, Sperduto RD, Ferris FL, Milton RC, Clemons TE, Rosmini F, Ferrigno L. Effects of multivitamin/mineral supplementation on plasma levels of nutrients. Report No. 4 of the Italian-American clinical trial of nutritional supplements and age-related cataract. Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2009;45(2):119-127.

Mauskop A. Alternative therapies in headache. Is there a role?. Med Clin North Am. 2001;85(4):1077-84. Review.

Ramu A, Mehta MM, Leaseburg T, Aleksic A. The enhancement of riboflavin-mediated photo-oxidation of doxorubicin by histidine and urocanic acid. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2001;47(4):338-46.

Zhao H, Yang X, Zhou R, Yang Y. Study on vitamin B1, vitamin B2 retention factors in vegetables. We Sheng Yan Jiu. 2008;37(1):92-96.

What is riboflavin?

Riboflavin is vitamin B2. Vitamins are naturally occurring substances necessary for many processes in the body. Riboflavin is important in the maintenance of many tissues of the body.

Riboflavin is used to treat or prevent deficiencies of riboflavin.

Riboflavin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to use riboflavin if you have other medical conditions, especially:

  • gallbladder disease; or

  • cirrhosis or other liver disease.

Riboflavin is considered likely safe to use during pregnancy, but your dose needs may be different during this time. You should not use riboflavin without a doctor’s advice if you are pregnant.

Riboflavin is considered possibly safe to use while nursing, and your dose needs may be different during this time. Do not use riboflavin without a doctor’s advice if you are breast-feeding.

Do not give riboflavin to a child without medical advice.

Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking riboflavin?

Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

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Riboflavin (also known as vitamin B2)

Riboflavin Summary

Riboflavin cannot be manufactured by humans and is obtained exclusively from the diet. Riboflavin is an enzyme cofactor in a wide range of enzymes in the electron transport chain, fatty acid metabolism, Krebs cycle, branched-chain amino acid catabolism, glutathione pathway, and the activation of many other vitamins and minerals. Riboflavin deficiency is rare today outside of cases of extreme malnutrition, people with poor diets consists mostly of white polished grains, or with chronic diarrhea. Signs and symptoms usually involve the blood (anemia) and skin (painful, fissured rashes, including in the mouth). While, riboflavin is present in a wide variety of foods, it is supplemented in individuals with ASD mostly in order to provide high levels that serve to force riboflavin-containing enzymes to increase their activity. Very high-doses of riboflavin are often recommended in the prevention of migraine. Riboflavin is also important for eye health, and may lower the risk of developing cataracts. Due to its role in the maturation of vitamins, taking riboflavin can also reduce homocysteine levels in the blood. Riboflavin is water-soluble and non-toxic even at high doses. While any supplement taken into the stomach can cause nausea, riboflavin is well known for this. While studies are few, the clinical experience of many physicians, and the generally benign nature of riboflavin supplementation have convinced some experts to offer riboflavin supplementation to their patients with an ASD, especially in those with migraine-like manifestations.

Riboflavin in Spectrum Needs

Because of the potential for nausea at very-high dosing, supplementation of riboflavin in Spectrum Needs is moderate to high. Individuals with substantial migraine or other specific riboflavin-responsive conditions may want to discuss adding additional supplementation with their physician.

The Details

What Is Riboflavin? Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is one of the eight B-complex vitamins. Riboflavin cannot be manufactured by humans and is thus a true vitamin, obtained exclusively from the diet.

What Does Riboflavin Do? Riboflavin is an enzyme cofactor, which means that it is a necessary component for enzyme function. Riboflavin is a cofactor in a wide range of enzymes, including enzymes in the electron transport chain, fatty acid metabolism, Krebs cycle, branched-chain amino acid catabolism, and glutathione antioxidant pathway. In addition, riboflavin is required for the activation of many other vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, niacin, pyridoxine, folate, and iron. Many, but not all, of these roles are in energy production.

What Does a Riboflavin Deficiency Appear as? Riboflavin deficiency is generally found today in cases of extreme malnutrition. Outside of that context, riboflavin deficiency can be found in people whose diet consists mostly of white polished grains (not whole grains), or with substantial GI malabsorption such as chronic diarrhea. Signs and symptoms usually involve the blood (anemia) and skin (painful, fissured rashes, including in the mouth).

What About Riboflavin’s Use in Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD)? Riboflavin is present in a wide variety of foods. It is supplemented in individuals with ASD mostly in order to provide extraordinary levels that serve to force riboflavin-containing enzymes to increase their activity. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for riboflavin is about 1 mg, but doses from 25 to 200 mg are generally used in disorders of energy metabolism. In one study, 20 mg riboflavin supplementation, with pyridoxine and magnesium, lowered dicarboxylic acid levels in children with ASD, which suggests that the treatment improved fatty acid metabolism https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21840465.

What About Riboflavin’s Use in Other Conditions? Those suffering from migraines may find that taking riboflavin may help. Per a recent review (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28485121) a “total of 11 clinical trials reveal a mixed effect of riboflavin in the prophylaxis of migraine headache. Five clinical trials show a consistent positive therapeutic effect in adults; four clinical trials show a mixed effect in paediatric and adolescent patients, and two clinical trials of combination therapy have not shown benefit.” Studies often use 400 mg of riboflavin a day for migraine prevention, but lower doses may be appropriate for pre-adolescents and people sensitive to developing nausea. Riboflavin is also important for eye health, in part as this vitamin is needed to protect glutathione, which is an important antioxidant in the eye. The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) reports that eating a diet rich in riboflavin can lower the risk of developing cataracts. Due to its role in the maturation of vitamins, taking riboflavin can also reduce homocysteine levels in the blood by 26 to 40 percent, according to the NLM.

What Are the Common and/or Important Side Effects of Riboflavin? While any supplement taken into the stomach can cause nausea, riboflavin is well known for this. Thus, medical care providers often recommend a lower dose at first, which is increased over time. However, riboflavin is water-soluble and excessive amounts are excreted by the kidneys, so toxicity is unlikely. A dose of 400 mg a day has been recommended for the treatment of migraine, and causes no known toxicity. Per a review article regarding 11 trials of high-dose riboflavin for migraine, “adverse reactions with riboflavin have generally been mild” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28485121). Riboflavin can also make the yellow glow a bright yellow color, and the urine has a characteristic odor.

Is There Any Laboratory Testing for a Riboflavin Deficiency? Laboratory testing can reveal the presence of a deficiency of this nutrient, but is generally not likely to have clinically utility.

What About Additional Dosing Beyond Spectrum Needs?

Therapeutic dosages of riboflavin in migraineous conditions typically are up to 400 mg a day. Thus, you may wish to speak to your health care provider regarding additional riboflavin supplementation beyond Spectrum Needs if your child has migraine or one of the conditions for which very-high dose riboflavin supplementation is often recommended.

How and Why is Riboflavin Used in Spectrum Needs

Riboflavin is added to Spectrum Needs in order to provide extraordinarily high levels of riboflavin, which serve to force riboflavin-containing enzymes throughout energy metabolism to increase their activity. Although studies are few, clinical experience and the generally benign nature of riboflavin supplementation have convinced some expert physicians to provide this nutrient to their patients with ASD. The possibly that high-dose riboflavin supplementation might lead to nausea prompted the relatively moderate dose (37.5 mg riboflavin per day in adults) in Spectrum Needs.

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