Flavor Your Life With Riboflavin
Posted by Kate W on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012
This week, we’re talking about the wonderful world of B vitamins. You may wonder, if there is only one vitamin A and one vitamin C, why are there eight B vitamins? The B vitamins were actually once thought of as a single vitamin, but over time, research showed that though they often coexist in the same foods, they are actually chemically distinct vitamins. Thus, you can get supplements in the individual vitamin forms (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12), or you can get them all combined in one form, often referred to as vitamin b complex. Today, we shine the spotlight on Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin.
Like the other B vitamins riboflavin is a key factor in energizing your body. It works in conjunction with other vitamins to convert food (carbohydrates) into glucose (fuel). In addition, riboflavin helps the body metabolize fat and protein, and helps keep the nervous system properly functioning. It also serves as an antioxidant in your system, by fighting damaging particles in the body known as free radicals. Free radicals are found everywhere, even in your heart-healthy oils; they may contribute to the aging process by damaging cells and DNA, and are also thought to contribute to heart disease and cancer, so they are worth fending off.
You can find riboflavin occurring naturally in a wide variety of foods, including eggs and dairy products, nuts and legumes, lean meats, and leafy green vegetables. Breads and cereals are also often fortified with riboflavin. Because riboflavin is prevalent in such a wide variety of foods, deficiency is not common. However, riboflavin is very sensitive to light; direct exposure will destroy it, so be sure not to store these foods in glass jars. If you suspect you may be deficient in riboflavin, be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
- Tearing, burning, or itching of the eye and surround areas
- Sores and soreness around the mouth
- Peeling of skin around the nose
- Sensitivity to light
- Skin disorders
- Swelling of the mucus membranes
Like other B vitamins, riboflavin is water soluble, meaning you can go ahead and take a supplement to make sure you’re filling in for any gaps your diet might provide, and any excess will flush right out of your system. You’ll definitely know if you’re getting enough; the root of the word riboflavin comes from the Latin word “flavus”, or “yellow”. If your urine becomes bright yellow once you start taking supplements, there’s no need for alarm; that’s just the extra riboflavin leaving your system. Less disturbing side effects include healthy hair and skin, which, in my opinion, are well worth it.
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