Riboflavin's primary functions are as a component of two coenzymes that catalyze many
oxidation-reduction reactions. These coenzymes are necessary to make energy as adenosine
triphosphate (ATP) through the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.
Riboflavin is involved in regenerating glutathione, a component of one of the body1s
antioxidant system to protect against free-radical damage. It is also required to activate
pyridoxine, or vitamin B-6.
Riboflavin is vital for normal reproduction, growth, repair and development of body
tissues including the skin, eyes, connective tissue, mucous membranes and immune and
nervous systems. Riboflavin is in the production of and regulation of certain hormones,
and is involved in the utilization of neurotransmitters, which is implicated in emotional
health and well being.
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. There may also be visual disturbances
such as an aversion to light, burning, irritated eyes and eye fatigue.
Severe riboflavin deficiencies are rare, however, mild deficiencies are more common,
especially in the elderly. Clinical symptoms of riboflavin deficiency are more common in
alcoholics and are usually accompanied by thiamin and niacin deficiencies. Symptoms
specifically related to riboflavin are difficult to isolate, because several nutritional
deficiencies are often occurring concurrently.
Active individuals may have an increased riboflavin requirement, especially if poor
dietary choices are made, or when on weight reducing diets.
High dose riboflavin supplements may be beneficial to support normal energy metabolism
in cerebral blood vessels, normal red blood cell development and normal structure and
function of the eye.