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Riboflavin

Milk and yogurt

What does it do?

Riboflavin is a water-soluble B vitamin that helps produce energy in all cells in your body and is critical for the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and protein. Ultraviolet light, such as sunlight, destroys riboflavin. You may have heard the story about why milk went from being delivered in glass containers to opaque or cardboard containers: to prevent sunlight from destroying the vitamins contained inside. If so, you were hearing about riboflavin!

What are the best food sources?

Major sources of riboflavin include milk and other dairy foods. Eggs, green leafy vegetables and enriched bread and grain products also contain smaller amounts.

What happens if you don’t get enough?

Riboflavin deficiency, known as ariboflavinosis, is usually accompanied by other nutrient deficiencies and may specifically lead to deficiencies of vitamin B6 and niacin. It is not known how common riboflavin deficiency is in the United States because its symptoms—which include sore throat, magenta tongue, cracks and sores on the outside of the mouth, dry and flaky skin, and dandruff—are not as severe as the other nutrient deficiencies that may accompany it. Thus, ariboflavinosis may be underdiagnosed.

What happens if you get too much?

It’s not likely that you will experience adverse effects from consuming too much riboflavin for a couple of reasons: limited absorption by the gastrointestinal tract, and because excess amounts are excreted by the body. However, studies have not specifically looked at the harmful effects of excess riboflavin, so stay within the range of recommended intakes.

How much do you need?

The following table lists the recommended intake for healthy people based on current scientific information.

Life Stage Group Age Range Recommended Dietary Allowance/Adequate Intake Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL)
Infants 0-6 mo. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Infants 7-12 mo. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Children 1-3 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Children 4-8 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Males 9-13 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Males 14-18 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Males 19-30 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Males 31-50 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Males 51-70 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Males > 70 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Females 9-13 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Females 14-18 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Females 31-50 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Females 51-70 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Females > 70 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Pregnancy < 18 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Pregnancy 19-30 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Pregnancy 31-50 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Lactation < 18 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Lactation 19-30 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Lactation 31-50 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
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