March 21, 2017


Other name(s):

vitamin B2, lactoflavin

General description

Riboflavin is a member of the B family of vitamins (B Complex). It’s a water-soluble vitamin. Excess amounts are excreted through your kidneys. It makes the urine fluorescent yellow. Riboflavin is an important antioxidant. Like the other B vitamins, it plays a role in energy production.

Riboflavin is one of a series of enzymes called flavoproteins. There are over 40 known flavoproteins. They each play a role in the oxidation processes in the body. This helps create energy.

Medically valid uses

Riboflavin is used to treat deficiencies in the diet and nutrient issues. It’s also used to treat rare genetic problems that keep flavoproteins from forming. It’s also used to treat hormonal disorders. It’s also used with exposure to sunlight (phototherapy) to treat jaundice in newborns.

Unsubstantiated claims

Please note that this section reports on claims that have not yet been substantiated through studies. 

Riboflavin may improve the health of your skin. It may also boost energy.

Riboflavin is claimed to prevent migraine headaches. It cannot treat a migraine once it occurs, though.

Recommended intake

How much riboflavin you need depends on how many calories you eat. The standard amount is 0.44–0.55 mg for every 1,000 calories of food you eat.

Riboflavin comes as 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg tablets. It’s also available in combinations (B Complex).

Riboflavin is measured in milligrams. The RDA is the Recommended Dietary Allowance.



Infants (0–6 months)

0.3 mg*

Infants (7 months to 1 year)

0.4 mg*

Children (1 to 3 years)

0.5 mg

Children (4–8 years)

0.6 mg

Children (9–13 years)

0.9 mg

Males (14–18 years)

1.3 mg

Males (19 years and older)

1.3 mg

Females(14–18 years)

1.0 mg

Females (19 years and older)

1.1 mg

Pregnant women

1.4 mg

Breastfeeding women

1.6 mg

*Adequate Intake (AI). This is based on the average intake in healthy, breastfed infants.

Food source

Nutrient content per 100 grams

Dried yeast

4.28 mg

Beef liver

2.9 mg

Chicken liver

2.5 mg


0.92 mg

Parmesan cheese

0.73 mg


0.55 mg

Cheddar cheese

0.46 mg


0.44 mg


0.35 mg


0.34 mg

Riboflavin is stable in heat when it’s dry. This means it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. But it degrades more easily when moist and heated. Riboflavin is sensitive to light. So you should store foods that contain it in light-resistant containers. For instance, up to 85% of the riboflavin in milk may be destroyed if exposed to sunlight.

Vegetables lose about 30–40% of their riboflavin during the cooking process.

Certain people need more riboflavin. These include people who have a poor diet. For instance, you may need more if you don’t consume enough milk or other animal products. You may also need more if you have irritable bowel syndrome or liver disease, or if you drink a lot of alcohol.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may need to take vitamin supplements. But you should talk to your healthcare provider before doing so.

Riboflavin deficiency rarely occurs by itself. It’s more common with other B-vitamin and protein deficiencies. Symptoms of deficiency include the following:

  • Swelling of your tongue, throat, or lining of your mouth

  • Cracking on your lips

  • Tears at the corners of your mouth

  • Itchy skin

  • Joint swelling

  • Seborrheic dermatitis. This condition causes red patches of skin, often on your scalp.

  • Eye problems. These may include burning, itching, blurred vision, light sensitivity, and blood vessels growing on the clear part of your iris.

Riboflavin deficiency may also affect your bone marrow. This may lower your red blood cell count. This can lead to anemia.

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

There are no known side effects of too much riboflavin. Excess riboflavin comes out in your urine.

There are no known food or drug interactions with riboflavin.




March 21, 2017

Reviewed By:  

Poulson, Brittany, RD, CDE,Wilkins, Joanna, R.D., C.D.