Riboflavin, or Vitamin B2, is a water soluble vitamin. As is true with all eight of the vitamins in the Vitamin B complex, it converts carbohydrates into glucose the form of sugar used by the human body. In addition, B2 is specifically needed for the proper development of skin, the creation of red blood cells, digestive tract lining, through its coenzymes provides the addition of necessary polypeptides or amino acids needed for enzyme function for oxygen driven energy production, fatty acid and amino acid synthesis, and it is needed to turn Vitamin B6 and iron into forms the body can use. A deficiency in this vitamin causes an array of health problems depending on when the deficiency occurs and if it is treated. When a fetus does not receive enough Riboflavin he/she can have improper limb development and congenital heart defects. The first symptoms of B2 deficiency in people other than fetuses are sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and bloodshot eyes. If left untreated, mucus membrane and skin lesions follow. Other symptoms are chapped and fissured lips, night blindness, cataracts, migraines, peripheral neuropathy, mild anemia, fatigue, some malignancies, and glutathione reduction in red blood cells. In the early twentieth century, B2 was known as Vitamin G because of its importance in growth and repair of all body tissue, the production of antibodies, help in the making of red blood cells, and the absorption of B6 and iron.
This vitamin is found in milk, eggs, meat, nuts, grains, organ meats, and dark green vegetables, such as, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and spinach. The RDA is between 0.5 and 1.8 mg per day depending on age and gender. So far, there are no known side effects for people taking larger than recommended doses of this vitamin; although, there is concern that eye damage when exposed to sunlight is possible. Riboflavin deficiency is not known to be fatal. Because the vitamin is water soluble it is easily removed from the system.