What is Vitamin B2 Deficiency?

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  • Written By: Tara Kelley
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 01 February 2020
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Vitamin B2 is a vitamin that assists the body in metabolizing carbohydrates. If a person has a vitamin B2 deficiency, also called a Riboflavin deficiency, he or she usually will experience a number of symptoms, including fatigue, sore throat, bloodshot eyes, and skin irritations. A vitamin B2 deficiency typically occurs in conjunction with a deficiency in other B vitamins. For instance, because vitamin B2 activates vitamin B6, a decrease in B2 can cause a decrease in B6. Therefore, it can be important for a person to be conscious of the intake of all B vitamins.

According to the Mayo Clinic, vitamin B2, which is found in most animal and plant tissues, aids in the body’s metabolic system, cell function, cell growth, and energy production. This vitamin can be found in dairy products, eggs, meats, whole-grain cereal, liver, and green vegetable. Because of the prevalence of this vitamin in meat and dairy products, vegetarians and vegans are often at the highest risk of having a vitamin B2 deficiency.

Because vitamin B2 aids in cell production and cell growth, a deficiency can cause an inflammation of the mouth, sores on the mouth, cracked lips, dandruff, and hair loss. A more serious deficiency can cause anemia and adrenal gland malfunction. Due to the vitamin’s involvement in energy production, a deficiency can lead to insomnia and fatigue. In pregnant women, it can lead to preeclampsia — hypertension while pregnant.


A vitamin B2 deficiency can occur in people who do not eat enough of the foods that contain the vitamin. Serious diseases affecting the liver, such as alcoholism, cirrhosis of the liver, and Hepatitis C, can cause vitamin B2 deficiency. Additionally, some medications, such as anti-psychotics, antidepressants, and oral contraceptives, can cause a person to become susceptible to vitamin B2 deficiency.

There are a number of simple treatments for vitamin B2 deficiency. An increase in the intake of foods containing the vitamin typically will increase the levels of the vitamin. Therefore, someone with a vitamin B2 deficiency will want to eat more meats, dairy products, eggs, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables. Vitamin B2 supplements are also available and can help decrease the deficiency. The best way to decrease the deficiency, however, usually is to eat more foods containing the vitamin.


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