By Jacob Mandel and John-Paolo Aquino

What is Riboflavin?

Riboflavin (also known as vitamin B2) is a water-soluble supplement that helps you digest food. It can come in pill form, but it is natural in some foods, such as meats and dairy. It can be synthetically added to foods, which results usually in a brighter yellow urine. [1][2]


That sounds good for you! Do I eat it a lot?

It is great for you! It helps your body release energy from protein, fat and carbohydrates, and then that energy is put towards digesting the food. As long as you eat, you consume riboflavin. Almost everything we eat has riboflavin! Milk has one of the highest amounts of riboflavin. If you need a lot of Riboflavin, you should eat almonds. Almonds have the highest amount of riboflavin in anything we eat. It is also in beef, mushrooms, eggs, broccoli and much more.[2][4][5]

What if I don't eat it a lot?

If you do not take enough riboflavin, it will lead to riboflavin deficiency. “Having riboflavin deficiency will impair iron absorption, increase intestinal loss of iron, and/or impair iron utilization for the synthesis of hemoglobin” Loss of iron is bad because iron is used for the respiratory system because the iron is for hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is basically what carries the oxygen through the body. Riboflavin is important for the red blood cells production. It also helps in releasing energy from carbohydrates. [1][8]

Is there any bad things about Riboflavin?

Like anything, synthetic things don't perform as well as the real thing. Taking synthetic Riboflavin will result in a much more yellow-colored urine. This is nothing to worry about. If this happens, contact your doctor. Also, when you eat natural Riboflavin, you completely digest 100% of it. If you eat the synthetic Riboflavin, however, you only digest about 15% of it. The other 85% of the undigested Riboflavin just become waste products, and are useless to your body. Other than that, there are no other known side effects. [5][7]


Is it just in food?

Nope! It is also in pills, to treat lip or mouth sores, sore throats and skin disorders. These are usually the symptoms of a riboflavin deficiency. However, this is very rare in the United States because of the amount of food that has riboflavin in it. [8]cheilitis.jpeg

Now, what's the chem in it?

Well, Riboflavin has 20 hydrogen atoms, 16 carbon atoms, 4 nitrogen atoms and 6 oxygen atoms.

Can you tell me some of the chemical properties?

Sure! Riboflavin has many compounds, like Toxoflavin and Araboflavin. It is a mostly stable yellow-orange powder. It's chemical formula is C17H20N4O6 [3][4]

Where did the name come from?

Riboflavin is made up of two different words, Ribitol and Flavin. Ribitol is a sugar alcohol and flavin is a Latin word that means, yellow. [6]


[1] Higdon, Jane. "Riboflavin." Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Web. 09 Nov. 2010. <http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/riboflavin/>.

[2] Kim, Ben. "Healthy Foods That Contain Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)." Dr. Ben Kim .com - Experience Your Best Health. 5 Jan. 2005. Web. 09 Nov. 2010. <http://drbenkim.com/nutrient-riboflavin.html>.

[3] "RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2)." Worldwide Chemical Information, Trading & Advertising. Web. 09 Nov. 2010. <http://www.chemicalland21.com/lifescience/foco/RIBOFLAVIN.htm>.

[4] "Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) Chemical Properties." Victorian Old Patents and Inventions - Victorian Science, Scientists, Inventors & Technology. Web. 09 Nov. 2010. <http://www.chemistry.patent-invent.com/chemistry/vitamins/riboflavin.html>.

[5] "Riboflavin Consumer Information from Drugs.com." Drugs.com | Prescription Drugs - Information, Interactions & Side Effects. Web. 09 Nov. 2010. <http://www.drugs.com/cons/riboflavin.html>.

[6] Smith, Sharron W. "Riboflavin - Chemistry Encyclopedia." Chemistry: Foundations and Applications. Web. 9 Nov. 2010. <http://www.chemistryexplained.com/Pr-Ro/Riboflavin.html>.

[7] "Vitamin B-2." Springboard - Alternative Therapies. Springboard. Web. 09 Nov. 2010. <http://www.springboard4health.com/notebook/v_b2.html>.

[8] Vorvick, Linda MD. "Riboflavin: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia." National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health. Web. 09 Nov. 2010. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002411.htm>.