Vitamin B2 - Riboflavin

Chemical Name


Immune support

Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is a micronutrient with a key role in maintaining human health. It has also been shown to enhance host resistance to viral and bacterial infections

Other uses

Cataracts. People who eat more riboflavin as part of their diet seem to have a lower risk of developing cataracts. Also, taking supplements containing riboflavin plus niacin seems to help prevent cataracts.
High amounts of homocysteine in the blood (hyperhomocysteinemia). Taking riboflavin by mouth for 12 weeks decreases levels of homocysteine by up to 40% in some people. Also, taking riboflavin along with folic acid and pyridoxine seems to lower homocysteine levels by 26% in people with high homocysteine levels caused by drugs that are used to prevent seizures.
Migraine headaches. Taking high-dose riboflavin by mouth seems to reduce the number of migraine headache attacks, by about 2 attacks per month. Taking riboflavin in combination with other vitamin sand minerals seems to also reduce the amount of pain experienced during a migraine.

How it works

Riboflavin is required for the proper development of many things in the body including the skin, lining of the digestive tract, blood cells, and brain function.


Riboflavin is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth. In some people, riboflavin can cause the urine to turn a yellow-orange color. It may also cause diarrhea.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Children: Riboflavin is LIKELY SAFE for most children when taken by mouth in appropriate amounts as recommended by the Food and Nutrition Board for the National Institute of Medicine (see dosing section below).

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Riboflavin is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth and used appropriately for pregnant or breast-feeding women. The recommended amounts are 1.4 mg per day for pregnant women and 1.6 mg per day in breast-feeding women. Riboflavin is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in larger doses, short-term. Some research shows that riboflavin is safe when taken at a dose of 15 mg once every 2 weeks for 10 weeks.

Hepatitis, Cirrhosis, Billary obstruction: Riboflavin absorption is decreased in people with these conditions.

Interactions with medications

Antibiotics (Tetracycline antibiotics)

Interaction Rating = Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Talk to your health provider.

Riboflavin might decrease the amount of tetracyclines that the body can absorb. Taking riboflavin along with tetracyclines might decrease the effectiveness of tetracyclines. To avoid this interaction, take riboflavin 2 hours before or 4 hours after taking tetracyclines.

Some tetracyclines include demeclocycline (Declomycin), minocycline (Minocin), and tetracycline (Achromycin).

Drying medications (Anticholinergic drugs)

Interaction Rating = Minor Be watchful with this combination.

Talk to your health provider.

Some drying medications can affect the stomach and intestines. Taking these drying medications with riboflavin (vitamin B2) can increase the amount of riboflavin that is absorbed in the body. But it's not known if this interaction is important.

Some of these drying medications include atropine, scopolamine, and some medications used for allergies (antihistamines), and for depression (antidepressants).

Medications for depression (Tricyclic antidepressants)

Interaction Rating = Minor Be watchful with this combination.

Talk to your health provider.

Some medications for depression can decrease the amount of riboflavin in the body. This interaction is not a big concern because it only occurs with very large amounts of some medications for depression. Some medications used for depression include amitriptyline (Elavil) or imipramine (Tofranil, Janimine), and others.

Phenobarbital (Luminal)

Interaction Rating = Minor Be watchful with this combination.

Talk to your health provider.

Riboflavin is broken down by the body. Phenobarbital might increase how quickly riboflavin is broken down in the body. It is not clear if this interaction is significant.

Probenecid (Benemid)

Interaction Rating = Minor Be watchful with this combination.

Talk to your health provider.

Probenecid (Benemid) can increase how much riboflavin is in the body. This might cause there to be too much riboflavin in the body. But it's not known if this interaction is a big concern.

Interactions with Herbs, Supplements, and Foods

Blond psyllium

Psyllium reduces absorption of riboflavin from supplements in healthy women. It isn't clear whether this occurs with dietary riboflavin, or whether it's really important to health.


A form of boron, called boric acid, can reduce the solubility of riboflavin in water. This might reduce the absorption of riboflavin.

Folic acid

In people with a condition called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) deficiency, taking folic acid might make riboflavin deficiency worse. Folic acid might lower blood levels of riboflavin in people with this condition.


Riboflavin supplements may improve the way iron supplements work in some people who don't have enough iron. This effect is probably important only in people with riboflavin deficiency.


Absorption of riboflavin supplements may be increased when taken with food.


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