Vitamin B2 is one of the most important B vitamins for your body. It’s a water-soluble vitamin, so any excess amounts in the body are eliminated through urine.
Riboflavin is required to maintain healthy blood cells, protect your skin and boost your energy levels. Also known as riboflavin, vitamin B2 is needed for healthy growth and overall health.
Vitamin B2 deficiency is very rare in the general population. Causes of this deficiency can include endocrine abnormalities and other diseases. Its symptoms can become apparent within a few days. Alcoholics are more at risk of developing a deficiency in B2.
Let’s take a look at some key symptoms of riboflavin deficiency.
Skin is your body’s largest organ and is affected by almost everything you eat. Vitamin B2 plays a role in cell turnover and collagen production. It allows you to protect the foundational structure of your skin. Moreover, it can also help to reduce inflammation and increase the rate at which wounds heal.
Vitamin B2 deficiency affects the mucus secretion in your skin. This causes dryness, which can then lead to acne. It can also affect your skin health by causing skin cracks and itching.
In children, this deficiency can result in skin lesions. This can cause the skin to look abnormal compared to the skin around the affected area.
Hyperaemia and Oedema
Riboflavin deficiency symptoms also include hyperaemia and oedema. Hyperaemia is characterised by excess blood in the vascular system. The most common symptom is a red, swollen area on the outer skin.
On the other hand, oedema features localised accumulation of fluid in interstitial spaces. It results in an abnormal build-up of water. This is caused by an issue with the mechanisms that regulate water in your body.
Tissues with hyperaemic vessels are bright red and can be easily identified because of the engorgement of arterioles and capillaries. Hyperaemia is an active process that is part of acute inflammation in the blood vessels.
Weakness is defined as lack of physical strength required to complete day-to-day tasks. With low levels of vitamin B2 in your body, you will feel that extra effort is needed to move your arms and legs.
Being tired all the time is a strong indication of vitamin B2 deficiency in your body. In order to treat the root cause, you will need to increase your vitamin B2 intake so that your body muscles can get the much-needed energy they’re lacking.
Research has shown that riboflavin deficiency can alter your body’s ability to absorb iron. This results in anaemia, which leads to fatigue. However, this condition can only develop if vitamin B2 deficiency is severe and lasts for a long period of time.
Since the main cause of this symptom is lack of iron in your system, it can be treated by having iron tablets or consuming an iron-rich diet. It’s always a good practice to seek medical advice from your GP if you experience heart palpitations or shortness of breath. In this case, a simple blood test will allow your doctor to diagnose and treat vitamin B2 deficiency.
Another sign of vitamin B2 deficiency is sore throat and tongue. You might experience some pain, scratchiness and irritation in the throat. This usually intensifies when you swallow. You may also feel swollen glands in your neck or jaw.
If these symptoms last for more than a week, you should see your GP. It’s important to remember that sore throat is particularly common all over the world and is usually occurs as a result of a viral infection or other environmental factors. That’s why this symptom alone isn’t sufficient to diagnose vitamin B2 deficiency.
Low levels of riboflavin can also result in hair loss. In fact, hair loss is one of the most easily recognisable symptoms of vitamin B2 deficiency. That’s because it affects the conversion of B6 to pyridoxal-5-phosphate, a hair conditioning agent. Together, riboflavin and vitamin B-6 maintain your hair strong and luscious.
Vitamin B2 is also needed by your body to produce glutathione, which is an important antioxidant. Glutathione prevents oxidative damage by free radicals, which is a significant factor in the ageing process of your hair follicles.
Severe vitamin B2 deficiency can even lead to folliculitis. This results in inflamed hair follicles due to bacterial or fungal infection. Mild cases of folliculitis can be treated with home remedies. Still, it’s advised to get checked by your GP to diagnose the condition and receive proper treatment.
Having sensitive eyes is particularly common among vitamin B2 deficiency symptoms. Riboflavin is crucial for maintaining normal vision. Without it, you may feel as if you have sand or dirt particles inside your eyelids. You might also experience a burning sensation along with fatigue.
After one to two days, you will likely start to experience increased sensitivity to light. This can even cause changes in the cornea and can increase your risk of developing cataracts. Some studies have associated vitamin B2 deficiency with night blindness as well.
Vitamin B1 Deficiency: The Takeaway
Vitamin B2 is an extremely essential nutrient for maintaining overall health. It is important for the growth, development and proper functioning of cells in your body. Riboflavin can also be considered as a crucial source of energy as it helps to break down the food you eat.
The daily dietary intake of riboflavin depends on your age and sex. Eating a balanced diet is the best way to increase your nutritional status of B2. That’s why vitamin B2 deficiency is not very common.
However, if your intake of riboflavin is low, this can cause a number of health-related issues. Good sources of vitamin B2 include dairy products, nuts and salmon.
While you should always aim to get your vitamin B2 from your diet, you might also consider taking a vitamin B complex supplement as an effective vitamin B2 deficiency treatment. Always speak with your GP before taking a dietary supplement.
READ ALSO: All About Vitamin B2 RDA and Deficiency