Riboflavin: Water-Soluble Vitamin Deficiency & Toxicity Symptoms

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  • 0:02 Riboflavin
  • 1:31 Deficiency
  • 2:44 Toxicity
  • 3:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin, so it is not stored in the body. In this lesson, learn about this vitamin and its effects on the body, including symptoms of too much or too little riboflavin.


Many years ago, milk came in clear glass bottles. But today, milk comes in cardboard cartons or non-translucent plastic jugs. Do you know why? Well, it was discovered that when milk is exposed to light, some important vitamins get destroyed, so placing milk in a more opaque container helps get the vitamins from the farm to you.

One of the vitamins that's vulnerable to light is riboflavin, also known as B2, which is a B-complex vitamin needed for energy metabolism. As you might have guessed, one of the main sources of riboflavin is milk, but it can also be obtained in other foods, including other dairy products, meats, eggs, enriched or whole grains, nuts and green vegetables.

With all these food choices, it seems like it would be pretty easy to get enough riboflavin during the day. Yet, some people do not get enough vitamins through their diet or have trouble absorbing the vitamins they consume. And, it's important to remember that riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin, which means it cannot be stored in the body, so it needs to be replenished regularly. These factors can cause a person to have a low level of riboflavin in their body. In this lesson, we'll learn about the symptoms associated with riboflavin (B2) deficiency, and see if there are any concerns with consuming too much of this B vitamin.


I mentioned that riboflavin is needed for energy metabolism. More specifically, riboflavin helps convert energy from the nutrients you eat into ATP, which is the energy that runs your cellular processes. Knowing this, you can imagine that riboflavin is important for normal cell function and growth, and when you do not have enough riboflavin in your body new cells can't grow fast enough to replace the old ones.

This leaves fast-growing and delicate tissues, such as your skin, eyes and mouth vulnerable. And sure enough, many of the symptoms of riboflavin (B2) deficiency are seen on these sensitive areas of the face. So, if you have a riboflavin (B2) deficiency and look at yourself in the mirror, you will likely see a few distinct signs, such as a sore and swollen tongue and throat, cracking at the corners of the mouth and chapped lips and itchy and bloodshot eyes that are unusually sensitive to light. It might help you to recall these symptoms if you remind yourself that you taste 'flavors' with your tongue, so ribo'flavin' (B2) deficiency affects the flavor-tasting tongue.

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