If you’re aiming for optimal health, you shouldn't overlook Vitamin B2 – also known as Riboflavin. A supporter of cellular energy production, it helps the body to metabolise carbohydrates. What is more, it plays an important role in the normal development of tissues – especially connective tissues like those that make up your skin and hair. Thus, it is an important component in the diet for feeling AND looking healthy.
A deficiency of Riboflavin can be noted by a variety of symptoms often related to skin issues like soreness around the lips, mouth and tongue, cracking of skin at the corners of the mouth, peeling of the skin (particularly around the nose), burning and itching around the eyes, and also a sensitivity to light. If you recognize these symptoms in yourself, the Paleo Diet can be a great help by providing adequate Vitamin B2 from natural sources.
There are more benefits to Riboflavin than relieving these symptoms, however! Vitamin B2 helps along in the absorption of iron, zinc, folate, vitamin B3 and vitamin B12, and it may play a role in preventing or treating a variety of health conditions, including anaemia, migraines, rosacea, carpal tunnel syndrome, cataracts, and vaginitis. If you’re doing heavy exercise (crossfit anyone?) your need for Vitamin B2 might be up to 10 times the ordinary amount.
How much Vitamin B2 should you consume?
The suggested daily amount is 1.7mg. There is no reported upper limit of consumption from natural food sources.
Where can you get Riboflavin from?
- Liver – Now this is a superfood! Whether you prefer beef, chicken or lamb liver (or any other animal for that matter), you can be sure of getting a good dose of Riboflavin. Lamb liver provides the most, with 270% of your daily need in a 100g serving. Great reason for sautéing some liver or having pate for dinner after a heavy workout! Or if you’re not accustomed to the taste of liver just yet, try adding some to your mince/ ground meat mixture when you make meatballs or burger patties to enjoy the health benefits without the strong taste.
- Almonds – If you’re looking for a Riboflavin-rich snack, almonds should be on the top of your list. A 100g serving covers 60% of your daily need. Feel free to eat this in the form of almond butter, if you wish!
- Mackerel – The best fish source for Vitamin B2, mackerel provides 32% of your daily need in 100 grams, or 56% per fillet. An easy way of adding mackerel to your diet is buying the canned variety – great on top of a green salad or eaten straight out of the tin!
- Eggs – Another reason to keep eating those eggs for breakfast! One pasture-raised egg provides 15.3% of your daily Riboflavin need.
- Spinach – Perhaps you want some spinach beside those eggs or with that mackerel fillet? 1 cup of cooked spinach provides 24.7% of your daily need of Vitamin B2.
- Sun-dried tomatoes – The rich-tasting sun-dried tomatoes that make sauces and salads stand out, are also a great source of Riboflavin. With 29% of your daily need covered in a 100g serving, they’re a healthy addition to your meals.
What else should you know about Vitamin B2 consumption?
Vitamin B2 is stable when heated, but if you’re boiling Riboflavin-rich food, a relevant amount of the vitamin will stay in the water – thus it is best to consume the broth as well to not let good micronutrients go to waste. In addition, exposure to light also affects the quantity of Riboflavin, so it is suggested to keep foods that are rich in it in opaque containers, and to cover pots with lids when cooking.
So, my Paleo friends, are you convinced of the benefits of Vitamin B2? Do you have any good suggestions for including it in your diet? Do share in the comments!