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Nutritional Supplement

Vitamin B2

  • Pain Management

    Migraine Headache

    Studies have shown vitamin B2 to be effective at reducing the frequency and severity of migraine headaches.
    Migraine Headache
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    One group of researchers treated 49 migraine patients with large amounts of vitamin B2 (400 mg per day). Both the frequency and severity of migraines decreased by more than two-thirds.1 In a follow-up three-month, double-blind trial, the same researchers reported that 59% of patients assigned to receive vitamin B2 had at least a 50% reduction in the number of headache days, whereas only 15% of those assigned to receive a placebo experienced that degree of improvement.2 The effects of vitamin B2 were most pronounced during the final month of the trial.3 In a preliminary study, a much smaller amount of vitamin B2 (25 mg per day for three months) reduced the frequency of migraines by about one-third in chronic migraine sufferers.4

    All of the studies that found riboflavin to be effective for preventing migraine were conducted in adults. In a double-blind trial, supplementation with 200 mg per day of riboflavin did not decrease the frequency or severity of migraines in children whose average age was 11 years.5

  • Heart and Circulatory Health

    Anemia

    Vitamin B2 deficiency can contribute to anemia, supplementing with this vitamin may restore levels and improve symptoms.
    Anemia
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    Deficiencies of iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid are the most common nutritional causes of anemia.6 Although rare, severe deficiencies of several other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A,7,8vitamin B2,9vitamin B6,10,11vitamin C,12 and copper,13,14 can also cause anemia by various mechanisms. Rare genetic disorders can cause anemias that may improve with large amounts of supplements such as vitamin B1.15,16

    High Homocysteine

    Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) supplementation has been shown to lower homocysteine levels in certain people.
    High Homocysteine
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    Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) supplementation (1.6 mg per day) has been shown to lower homocysteine levels by 22 to 40% in a subset of the population that has a certain genetic variant of an enzyme involved in folic acid metabolism (the 677Cà T polymorphism for the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene).17 Approximately 15 to 20% of the population carries this gene and could benefic from taking riboflavin. Since genetic testing is expensive and not readily available, it would seem reasonable for all people trying to lower their homocysteine levels to include riboflavin in their regimen of B vitamin supplementation.

  • Healthy Pregnancy and New Baby

    Preeclampsia

    Women who are deficient in vitamin B2 (riboflavin) are more likely to develop preeclampsia than women with normal levels. Supplementation may correct a deficiency.
    Preeclampsia
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    Women who are deficient in vitamin B2 (riboflavin) are more likely to develop preeclampsia than women with normal vitamin B2 levels.18 These results were observed in a developing country, where vitamin B2 deficiencies are more common than in the United States. Nevertheless, insufficient vitamin B2 may contribute to the abnormalities underlying the disease process.

  • Eye Health Support

    Cataracts

    Vitamin B2 is needed to protect glutathione, an important antioxidant in the eye. In one study, supplementing with vitamin B2 prevented cataracts in people who were deficient.
    Cataracts
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    People with low blood levels of antioxidants and those who eat few antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables have been reported to be at high risk for cataracts.19,20

    Vitamin B2 and vitamin B3 are needed to protect glutathione, an important antioxidant in the eye. Vitamin B2 deficiency has been linked to cataracts.21,22 Older people taking 3 mg of vitamin B2 and 40 mg of vitamin B3 per day were partly protected against cataracts in one trial.23 However, the intake of vitamin B2 in China is relatively low, and it is not clear whether supplementation would help prevent cataracts in populations where vitamin B2 intake is higher.

What Are Star Ratings?
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Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

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References

1. Schoenen J, Lenaerts M, Bastings E. High-dose riboflavin as a prophylactic treatment of migraine: results of an open pilot study. Cephalalgia 1994;14:328-9.

2. Schoenen J, Jacquy J, Lenaerts M. Effectiveness of high-dose riboflavin in migraine prophylaxis. A randomized controlled trial. Neurology 1998;50:466-70.

3. Schoenen J, Jacquy, Lenaerts M. High-dose riboflavin as a novel prophylactic antimigraine therapy: results from a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Cephalalgia 1997;17:244 [abstract].

4. Maizels M, Blumenfeld A, Burchette R. A combination of riboflavin, magnesium, and feverfew for migraine prophylaxis: a randomized trial. Headache2004;44:885-90.

5. MacLennan SC, Wade FM, Forrest KML, et al. High-dose riboflavin for migraine prophylaxis in children: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Child Neurol 2008;23:1300-4.

6. Little DR. Ambulatory management of common forms of anemia. Am Fam Physician 1999;59:1598-604 [review].

7. Hodges RE, Sauberlich HE, Canham JE, et al. Hematopoietic studies in vitamin A deficiency. Am J Clin Nutr 1978;31:876-85 [review].

8. Bloem MW. Interdependence of vitamin A and iron: an important association for programmes of anaemia control. Proc Nutr Soc 1995;54:501-8 [review].

9. Lane M, Alfrey CP. The anemia of human riboflavin deficiency. Blood 1965;25:432-42.

10. Orehek AJ, Kollas CD. Refractory postpartum anemia due to vitamin B6 deficiency. Ann Intern Med 1997;126(10):834-5 [letter].

11. Iwama H, Iwase O, Hayashi S, et al. Macrocytic anemia with anisocytosis due to alcohol abuse and vitamin B6 deficiency. Rinsho Ketsueki 1998;39:1127-30 [in Japanese].

12. Hirschmann JV, Raugi GJ. Adult scurvy. J Am Acad Dermatol 1999;41:895-906 [review].

13. Summerfield AL, Steinberg FU, Gonzalez JG. Morphologic findings in bone marrow precursor cells in zinc-induced copper deficiency anemia. Am J Clin Pathol 1992;97:665-8.

14. Freycon F, Pouyau G. Rare nutritional deficiency anemia: deficiency of copper and vitamin E. Sem Hop 1983;59:488-93 [review] [in French].

15. Borgna-Pignatti C, Marradi P, Pinelli L, et al. Thiamine-responsive anemia in DIDMOAD syndrome. J Pediatr 1989;114:405-10.

16. Neufeld EJ, Mandel H, Raz T, et al. Localization of the gene for thiamine-responsive megaloblastic anemia syndrome, on the long arm of chromosome 1, by homozygosity mapping. Am J Hum Genet 1997;61:1335-41.

17. McNulty H, Dowey LR, Strain JJ, et al. Riboflavin lowers homocysteine in individuals homozygous for the MTHFR 677Cà T polymorphism. Circulation2006;113:74-80.

18. Wacker J, Fruhauf J, Schulz M, et al. Riboflavin deficiency and preeclampsia. Obstet Gynecol 2000;96:38-44.

19. Jacques PF, Chylack LT Jr. Epidemiologic evidence of a role for the antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids in cataract prevention. Am J Clin Nutr 1991;53:352S-5S.

20. Knekt P, Heliovaara M, Rissanen A, et al. Serum antioxidant vitamins and risk of cataract. BMJ 1992;305:1392-4.

21. Bhat KS. Nutritional status of thiamine, riboflavin and pyridoxine in cataract patients. Nutr Rep Internat 1987;36:685-92.

22. Prchal JT, Conrad ME, Skalka HW. Association of presenile cataracts with heterozygosity for galactosaemic states and with riboflavin deficiency. Lancet 1978; 1:12-3.

23. Sperduto RD, Hu TS, Milton RC, et al. The Linxian cataract studies. Arch Ophthalmol 1993;111:1246-53.

24. Gaby, AR. Nutritional Medicine. Concord, NH: Fritz Perlberg Publishing, 2011.

25. Bhat KS. Nutritional status of thiamine, riboflavin and pyridoxine in cataract patients. Nutr Rep Internat 1987;36:685-92.

26. Prchal JT, Conrad ME, Skalka HW. Association of presenile cataracts with heterozygosity for galactosaemic states and with riboflavin deficiency. Lancet 1978; 1:12-3.

27. Varma RN, Mankad VN, Phelps DD, et al. Depressed erythrocyte glutathione reductase activity in sickle cell disease. Am J Clin Nutr 1983;38:884-7.

28. Wacker J, Fruhauf J, Schulz M, et al. Riboflavin deficiency and preeclampsia. Obstet Gynecol 2000;96:38-44.

29. Heap LC, Peters TJ, Wessely S. Vitamin B status in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. J R Soc Med 1999;92:183-5.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2019.