Vitamin B2 is also known as Riboflavin and similarly to B1 it’s main role is to help extract energy from the food we eat. However opposite to B1, B2 specializes in burning fat since burning fat requires almost twice as much riboflavin as burning carbs. Let’s learn about the fat-burning Riboflavin !
What does Riboflavin do?
Riboflavin does lots of other amazing things besides burn fat.
- It helps absorb and utilize iron, which prevents anemia.
- It keeps the eyes healthy by preventing cataracts.
- It lowers homocysteine, which may protect against heart disease and cancer.
- It supports a process called methylation, which contributes to mental and physical health.
- Riboflavin makes the migraines go away.
Recognizing Riboflavin deficiencies
Riboflavin deficiency is frequently associated with deficiencies in one or more of the other B-complex vitamins and has been found in some countries to be alarming high. It can be identified when :
- The outer edges of the lips get red and crusty.
- The corners of the mouth crack.
- The tongue gets red and swollen.
- The skin gets red, scaly, itchy, greasy.
- The hands and feet can get unusually sensitive to touch, heat, or pain.
If interested in testing the B2 levels the Erythrocyteflavin nucleotides (FMN +FAD) concentration is probably the best measure of riboflavin status.
Riboflavin and fat burning
Although we called Riboflavin as fat burning, this doesn’t mean that riboflavin will help you lose weight. It is quite the opposite!
- Losing weight increases the need for riboflavin by 60%.
- Doing cardio six days a week increases your need for riboflavin by 60%.
How do we get enough Riboflavin?
The RDA is 1.3 milligrams per day (mg/d) for men and 1.1 for women. However due to the reasons explained above it is probably best to go with 2-5mg/d.
- 120grams of liver or seaweed (spirulina) gives between gives you 2-5 mg
- 240grams of kidney, heart, parsley and almonds gives the needed amount of B2.
- Then we have the foods that give around 0.5 mg for every 120gr. These are foods are red meat, cheese, eggs, salmon, mushrooms, sesame.
- Other foods contain B2 but require a huge amount of servings and since we are looking for nutritional density they will not be considered here.
Disclaimer : There are many other foods according to the USDA that contain B2, and this is due to the fact that many foods such as cereal are being fortified as a publich health measure. In this post we are not considering them since we are only looking into natural, non-processed, low-carb foods.
Note also that fat contains zero riboflavin (as does sugar). These hurt the riboflavin status by displacing foods that have riboflavin. Interesting enough, burning fat requires more riboflavin, yet fat doesn’t have any riboflavin! Hence, meal planning is quite important when switching from a high-carb to a low-carb diet, since removing refined flour will remove Riboflavin from your diet.
Although Riboflavin is not a “fat-soluble vitamin,” it mixes quite a bit with both water and fat. So it is better absorbed with a meal and with some fat.
Other Causes of Deficiency
Riboflavin deficiency isn’t all about diet. Here are some other causes of deficiency.
- Low stomach acid hurts protein digestion, which is needed to release riboflavin.
- Exposure to sunlight.
- Exposure of food to light kills riboflavin. For example, putting milk in sunlight for two hours destroys half the riboflavin.
- Alcohol hurts your ability to absorb and use riboflavin.
Riboflavin has no known toxicity! Normal riboflavin is the first form and Riboflavin 5′-phosphate the second one.
- Include liver in your weekly eating plan and compliment with some almonds.
- B2 helps with iron absorption and can help with migraines.
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