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Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Vitamin B2 is called Riboflavin but it should it be called The Fat Burner!


You need twice as much riboflavin to burn fat than carbohydrate.

But your body uses Riboflavin to burn anything for energy and in order to burn fat optimally, you need all the other B vitamins too.

Taking extra vitamin B2 is not going to turn you into a fat burning machine, but if you are losing weight burning more fat than normal, you absolutely need to increase or restore vitamin B2 levels to keep that fat burning training rollin!

Did you know that weight loss increases the need for riboflavin by 60%?

In addition, 20-50 minutes of cardio per day also increases the need for riboflavin by 60%!

And if you’re doing cardio and burning fat at the same time, then it more than doubles riboflavin requirements.

Combine that with not eating as much (which is what we do when we’re trying to lose weight), and you’ve got a full blown Vitamin B2 deficiency situation.

But Riboflavin is not just important for fat burning, it does several other amazing things.

Let’s talk about them…

Vitamin B2 Benefits

The Major Benefits of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) include:

  1. Supports Fat Burning & Metabolism’
  2. Reduces Oxidative Stress & Cell Damage
  3. Supports Mitochondrial Function (cellular energy)
  4. Reduces Neuroinflammation
  5. Supports Homocysteine Metabolism
  6. Helps to Defend Against Cancer

1. Supports Fat Burning & Metabolism

Riboflavin is the precursor of the coenzymes, flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) and flavin mononucleotide (FMN) [1].

FAD and FMN are essential to metabolism and the breakdown of fats.

This means that lipid (fat) metabolism is dependent on vitamin B2 status [2].

Several studies have demonstrated that deficiencies of riboflavin contribute to the accumulation of fatty acids in the blood stream.

So making sure that you maintain adequate vitamin B2 is important for fat metabolism and regulation.

2. Reduces Oxidative Stress & Cell Damage

Vitamin B2 prevents oxidative stress by acting as an antioxidant and controlling the presence of damaging free radicals [3].

Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to counteract their damaging effects through neutralization with antioxidants. 

Oxidative damage is the harm cells and tissues experience when they are unable to keep up with free radical production.

Vitamin B2 also reduces oxidative stress and damage by aiding in the production of one of the most important antioxidants called glutathione, which acts as a free radical killer and also detoxes the liver [3].

3. Supports Mitochondrial Function

Every single cell that makes up your body requires energy to function.

Over 90% of the chemical energy needed to survive come from tiny structures within the cells called mitochondria.

Mitochodrial dysfunction or disease is when the mitochondria stop producing energy causing all sorts of downstream dysfunctions.

Several scientific papers have demonstrated that high dose riboflavin therapy improves clinical outcomes in patients diagnosed with various mitochondrial disorders [4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]

4. Reduces Neuroinflammation

Just like any other part of your body that undergoes damage, the nervous system becomes inflamed when injured.

This inflammation, if left untreated, can then cause all sorts of neurodegenerative diseases such as:

  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Huntington’s Disease

It is well established that several inflammatory mediators such as NF-kB, COX2, TNF-A, NO, IL-1B and MCP-1 are all related to the vicious cycle of neuroinflammation.

Riboflavin has the ability to suppress all of these compounds [11]!

5. Supports Homocysteine Metabolism

Homocysteine is an amino acid that is naturally present in our bodies.

But too much homocysteine in the blood means you’re at an increased risk of CVD, including venous thrombosisatherosclerosis, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and stroke.

Most research indicates that a plasma homocysteine level less than 10 micromoles/L is associated with a lower risk of CVD.

Riboflavin has been shown to play an active role in the metabolism and proper maintenance of homocysteine levels [12. 13].

6. Helps to Defend Against Cancer

Recent studies have found that vitamin B2 intake is inversely associated with with some of the most common types of cancer, including colon cancer and breast cancer [14, 15].

We know that vitamin B2 supports immune function because it acts as an antioxidant to control the presence free radicals.

Vitamin B2 is required for the production of an antioxidant called glutathione, which acts as a free radical killer and also detoxes the liver.

Free radicals are what age the body.

When they go uncontrolled, it can result in the development of various disease. Vitamin B2 plays a part in defending against disease by maintaining a healthy lining within the digestive tract, where much of the immune system is stored.

Vitamin B2 Deficiency

When your body starts to run low in B2, REALLY bad things start to happen.

The most obvious signs of riboflavin deficiency include:

  • Cracked edges of your outer lips
  • Red fissures develop around the lips
  • Your tongue and insides of your cheek start to get red, bloody and swollen
  • The skin might even get scaly, itchy, and red

But these are the obvious signs of frank deficiencies.

Other signs and symptoms of a B2 deficiency could include:

  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Nerve Damage or Irritation
  • Sluggish Metabolism
  • Skin inflammation and related disorders
  • Inflamed mouth and tongue
  • Sore throat
  • Swelling of the mucus membranes
  • Mood disturbance and depression

Vitamin B2 Foods

What foods contain vitamin B2 or Riboflavin?

Although it’s primarily found in meat and dairy products, there are several options for vegetarian or plant based peeps.

Vitamin B2/riboflavin is found in plant foods, including legumes, vegetables, nuts and grains.

Some of the best vitamin B2 foods include those in these food groups

  • Organ meats (especially liver)
  • Meat
  • Certain dairy products, especially cheeses
  • Eggs
  • Certain vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables
  • Beans and legumes
  • Certain nuts and seeds

The best foods to get adequate B2 for Vegans would include mushrooms, seaweed, sesame seeds, and wheat germ/bran.

How Much Riboflavin Do We Need?

The RDA or recommended dietary allowance offers official recommendations for how much of certain nutrients we need in a day.

The RDA for Riboflavin is 1.3 milligrams per day (mg/d) for men and 1.1 for women. Women require some extra during pregnancy and lactation, and children are adjusted down for bodyweight.

That said, our true needs are probably closer to 2-5 mg/d. The amounts wil depend on lifestyle factors that use up Riboflavin such as weight loss, exercise, sun or UVB exposure and environmental toxins.

For example:

  • Dieting and cardio will double the requirement by 60% each.
  • High-fat diets increase the requirement by 20-40% depending on how much fat you eat.
  • Exposure to sunlight and tanning beds increases your needs, but no one knows exactly by how much.

Best Ways To Get Riboflavin From Food:

  • You can get 2-5 mg for every 3-4 ounces of pasture-raised lamb liver imported from New Zealand.
  • You can get 1-2 mg for every 3-4 oz of kidney, heart, and almonds.
  •  You can get 0.4-0.5 mg for every 3-4 oz of red meat, cheese, eggs, salmon, mushrooms, seaweed, sesame, wheat germ and bran,

Vitamin B2 Supplements

Riboflavin has no known toxicity!

There are two types of supplements on the market:

  • Plain old normal cheapo riboflavin
  • Riboflavin 5′-phosphate, often called FMN or “activated” or “coenzymated” riboflavin

At the time of writing this article I can’t really say that there’s enough evidence to suggest that FMN is better than the cheap stuff.

I would suggest taking riboflavin supplements with a fatty meal and it’s best to supplement over time as opposed to one big dose.

Most people would benefit from a low-dose supplement of 2-5 mg/d on days where they can’t meet the requirement from food.

I don’t recommend using high doses unless you have a good reason to bu there is no evidence that doing so is unsafe. 100 mg per meal would be an example.

If you’re wanting to see if High Dose Riboflavin can treat a specific condition, then 100 mg per meal would be the place to start. These are the doses effective against migraines!

Again, I don’t recommend using high-dose riboflavin with no specific purpose, but trying it for off the wall, hard to figure out, strange and unexplained health problems wouldn’t hurt.

Just make a note that Riboflavin will turn your pee into neon yellow. It’s simply riboflavin leaving your body when you couldn’t activate it and start using it right away.

It doesn’t mean your dose was too high.

It doesn’t mean you’re wasting riboflavin.


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