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Chapter: Biochemistry: Vitamins

Riboflavin (B2)

Structurally vitamin B2 consists of a ribitol moiety and a substituted isoalloxazine ring.

Riboflavin (B2)

Structurally vitamin B2 consists of a ribitol moiety and a substituted isoalloxazine ring (Fig. 8.6).


Riboflavin is a constituent of a group of enzymes called “flavoproteins”. As with thiamine, the enzymes are necessary in the break down of the glucose to form energy. Riboflavin is essential for a healthy skin and for good vision in bright light. If the individual ingest more riboflavin than their body needs, the urinary excretion will increase, if the intake is inadequate, the body maintains its supply very carefully and the urinary excretion will practically stop.


About half of the intake of riboflavin daily is furnished by milk alone and cheese is a good source, although some of the vitamin has been lost in the whey.


A more generous estimate of requirements is the level of intake at which there is normalisation of the activity of the red cell enzyme glutathione reductase, which is a flavoprotein whose activity is especially sensitive to riboflavin nutritional status.

Infants - 0.4 - 0.6 mg / day

Children - 0.8 - 1.2 mg / day

Adults male - 1.5 -1.8 mg/day

Adults female - 1.1 - 1.4 mg/day

Pregnant women - 1.4 - 1.7 mg/day

Lactating women - 1.6 - 1.9 mg / day

Absorption and storage

The vitamin is phosphorylated in the intestinal mucosa during absorption. It is absorbed from the small intestine through the portal vein and is passed to all tissues being stored in the body. The major part is excreted in urine and a small part is metabolized in the body.


Riboflavin deficiency leads to cheilosis, a cracking of the skin at the corners of the lips and scaliness of the skin around the ears and nose. There may be redness and burning as well as itching of the eyes, and extreme sensitivity to strong light.

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