Vitamin B2 is a water-soluble vitamin needed to process amino acids and fats, activate vitamin B6 and folic acid, and help convert carbohydrates into the fuel the body runs on adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Under some conditions, vitamin B2 can act as an antioxidant. Riboflavin works with the other B vitamins. It is important for body growth and red cell production, and helps in releasing energy from carbohydrates. Vitamin B2 plays an important role in releasing energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It also helps to maintain the integrity of red blood cells and nervous system function. Vitamin B2 regenerates glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that is one of the main protectors of the body's cells against free-radical damage. Riboflavin is involved in energy production as part of the electron transport chain that produces cellular energy. Vitamin B2 aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and is important in the prevention and treatment of cataracts.
Riboflavin deficiency has profound effects on the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. All three of these basic food elements require riboflavin if they are to be properly utilized by the body. A deficiency of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) may result in bloodshot eyes, abnormal sensitivity to light, itching and burning of the eyes, inflammation in the mouth, a sore and burning tongue, and cracks on the lips and in the corners of the mouth. It may also result in dull or oily hair, an oily skin, premature wrinkles on the face and arms, and split nails. Riboflavin deficiency also leads to the malfunctioning of the adrenal glands. It can be contributing cause to such disorders as anaemia, vaginal itching, and cataract. Vitamin B2 deficiency can occur in alcoholics. Also, a deficiency may be more likely in people with cataracts, or sickle cell anemia. People with chronic fatigue syndrome may be deficient in vitamin B2. In developing countries, riboflavin deficiency has been found to be a risk factor for the development of preeclampsia in pregnant women.
The most common cause of riboflavin deficiency is dietary inadequacy, which occurs in those who do not consume rich dietary sources of the vitamin, such as organ meats, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, leafy green vegetables and whole grains. Riboflavin deficiency is usually due to dietary inadequacy but can occur most frequently in people with long-standing infections, liver disease, and alcoholism. Deficiency of the vitamin can occur in the elderly subsisting on tea or coffee, toast and cookies. Riboflavin deficiency also occurs in those with chronic liver disease, chronic alcoholics and those who receive total parenteral nutrition (TPN) with inadequate riboflavin. Marginal riboflavin deficiency, in the context of nucleoside analog antiretroviral therapy, has been known to cause severe lactic acidosis. Riboflavin deficiency occurs when the chronic failure to eat sufficient amounts of foods that contain riboflavin produces lesions of the skin, lesions of smooth surfaces in the digestive tract, or nervous disorders. People taking antipsychotic or antidepressant drugs or oral contraceptives are susceptible to riboflavin deficiency.
Riboflavin is vital for normal reproduction, growth, repair and development of body tissues including the skin, eyes, connective tissue, mucous membranes and the immune and nervous systems. Deficiency of riboflavin is primarily manifested in the skin and mucous membranes. Characteristic symptoms of riboflavin deficiency include lesions of the skin, especially in the corners of the mouth, and a red, sore tongue. The first signs and symptoms of deficiency are a sore throat and sores at the corners of the mouth. Worsening symptoms include a swollen tongue, seborrheic dermatitis, anemia and impaired nerve function. Though severe deficiencies of vitamin B2 are not prevalent, moderate deficiencies are found quite often and are most common among the elderly population. Low dietary levels of riboflavin have been linked to certain esophageal cancers. Riboflavin deficiency has been associated with an increased incidence of esophageal cancer in certain parts of the world.
Riboflavin deficiency can cause inflamed tongue, inflammation and ulcers in the mouth, Dandruff, weakness, abnormal blood vessel growth on the sclerae (whites of the eyes), and low blood counts. Vitamin B2 deficiency include cracking of the lips and corners of the mouth, an inflamed tongue, loss of visual perception and sensitivity to light, cataracts, and burning and/or itching of the eyes, lips, mouth, and tongue. Symptoms of riboflavin deficiency include sore throat, redness and swelling of the lining of the mouth and throat, cracks or sores on the outsides of the lips and at the corners of the mouth, inflammation and redness of the tongue, a moist, scaly skin inflammation, and a decreased number of red blood cells. Other possible symptoms include dizziness, hair loss, insomnia, poor digestion, and slowed mental response.