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Clinician’s Corner: Riboflavin

Your Thompson Pharmacist is a great resource for vitamin recommendations.  We will focus on riboflavin, a vitamin that causes mild symptoms if deficient, but is frequently recommended by neurologists.

Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin)

Function of riboflavin: Function: central component in a number of enzyme systems dealing with carbohydrate breakdown.

Dietary sources: milk and eggs, meats, fish, green vegetables, yeast, and enriched foods such as fortified cereals and breads. Grains have been fortified with B vitamins since the 1950’s.  Folic acid was added to the grain fortification program in 1998 to prevent neural tube defects. Because riboflavin is light sensitive, milk is usually commercially sold in an opaque container.

Deficiency States: Riboflavin deficiency is extremely rare in the United States. In addition to inadequate intake, causes of riboflavin deficiency can include thyroid hormone deficiency and some diseases.

  • Inflammation of the lips: cracks and sores at corners of the mouth
  • Inflammation of the lining of the mouth.
  • Eye: “lazy eye”, dimness of vision without detectable lesions of eye

Potential riboflavin deficiency states:

  • Patients with anorexia nervosa
  • Very rarely, genetic enzyme deficiency
  • Celiac disease
  • Lactose intolerant patients who avoid dairy products.

Migraine Prevention: Many neurologists will try first line for migraine prophylaxis. A few small studies found evidence of a beneficial effect of riboflavin supplements on migraine headaches in adults and children.

Riboflavin is available over the counter in 100mg tablets.

Drug interactions/Adverse effects:  minimal.  Not toxic due to limited GI absorption.  This is the vitamin that turns your urine a bright yellow a couple hours after ingestion.