Did you ever worry if you get enough vitamin B2 from your diet? Most vegans do not know that vitamin B2 is a critical vitamin that vegans should be aware of.
Vitamin B2, also called ribovlavin, is a water-soluble vitamin that we humans need to get through our diet. It plays an important role in the energy supply of the body. An adequate vitamin B2 intake is an important point of attention for vegans.
What is Vitamin B2?
Vitamin B2 is an important nutrient for the human body. It is produced in nature by micro-organisms and is also found in milk and dairy products, meat, eggs, and dark leafy vegetables. Milk and milk products are the main source of vitamin B2 for non-vegans.
Because of its orange-yellow color, vitamin B2 is also used as a coloring agent.
Under the E number E101(i), vitamin B2 may be used within the European Union as a coloring agent in food products. Another form is often used (riboflavin-5-phosphate), E101(ii), which breaks down into vitamin B2 after ingestion. Vitamin B2 and derivatives such as riboflavin-5-phosphate are usually produced commercially using microorganisms. In food products, therefore, vitamin B2 always comes from non-animal sources.
Why is it important?
Vitamin B2 is an easily absorbable nutrient that plays an important role in metabolism. The vitamin is necessary for the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates in the cells of the body. In addition, vitamin B2 is also necessary for healthy skin and hair.
Recommended daily amount
Adults need 1.6 mg of vitamin B2 per day.
Vegans who take supplements with an excess of vitamin B2 see that their urine turns bright yellow. It is not for nothing that it is used in industry as a coloring agent.
The body can excrete an excess of vitamin B2, which makes the urine bright yellow.
An overdose of vitamin B2 therefore does not occur. There are no known negative health effects of too much vitamin B2. No acceptable upper limit has therefore been established.
Sources of Vitamin B2
Vitamin B2 is found in nuts, grain products, wheat germ, green leafy vegetables and certain types of cabbage. In addition, vitamin B2 is often added to vegetable milk and vegetable margarines.
If you are concerned about sufficient intake of vitamin B2, it is best to opt for vitamin B2 fortified plant-based dairy substitutes.
The vitamin B2 in vegetables is easily soluble in water. In order not to lose too much vitamin B2 and other nutrients, it is therefore useful to cook vegetables in little water or to cut the vegetables into small pieces. It is better to stir-fry or steam vegetables.
Some examples of foods with vitamin B2 (per 100 grams):
- Flaxseed: 0.16mg
- Spinach (raw): 0.2mg
- Almonds: 0.91mg
- Mushrooms: 0.3mg
- Fortified dairy substitutes: 0.21mg
Vegans and Vitamin B2 Intake
Vegans are more likely than non-vegans to have a low intake of vitamin B2.
Therefore, it can be helpful to monitor your vitamin B2 intake. If it is too low, vegans can benefit from a supplement.
Possible vitamin B2 deficiencies are noticeable in red, flaky skin around the eyes, nose and ears, cracks at the corners of the mouth and an inflamed tongue. Fatigue symptoms can also occur.
Deficiency of vitamin B2 can also contribute to anemia, especially if iron intake is low.
People who exercise a lot or are under a lot of stress need extra vitamin B2. Alcoholics and drug addicts are at increased risk of deficiency.
EFSA ANS Panel (EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food), 2013. Scientific opinion on the re-evaluation of riboflavin (E 101(i)) and riboflavin-5 -phosphate sodium (E 101(ii)) as food additives. EFSA Journal 2013; 11 ( 10):3357, 49 pp. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2013.3357
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