Riboflavin Vitamin B2 Deficiency - Symptoms, Causes and Treatment of Riboflavin deficiency


Riboflavin deficiency is almost always due to dietary deficiency. The requirement for riboflavin is increased during pregnancy and lactation and possibly by heavy exercise. The use of phenothiazines and antibiotics also appears to increase the need for riboflavin. Milk, other dairy products, and enriched breads and cereals are the most important dietary sources of riboflavin in the United States, although lean meat, fish, eggs, broccoli, and legumes are also good sources. Riboflavin is extremely sensitive to light, and milk should be stored in containers that protect against photodegradation. In non-milk-drinking societies (e.g., Central America), the laboratory diagnosis of riboflavin deficiency is common.

Laboratory diagnosis of riboflavin deficiency can be made by measurement of red blood cell or urinary riboflavin concentrations or by measurement of erythrocyte glutathione reductase activity, with and without added FAD. A stimulation (activity coefficient) of >1.4 is diagnostic of a deficient state. The RDA for riboflavin is 1.1 to 1.3 mg/d in adults, with slightly higher recommendations for lactating and pregnant women. Rare genetic defects of flavoprotein synthesis may require pharmacologic doses of riboflavin for treatment. Because the capacity of the gastrointestinal tract to absorb riboflavin is limited (~20 mg if given in one oral dose), riboflavin toxicity has not been described. Thus, the most recent revision of the RDAs did not set an upper limit for this nutrient.


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