Vitamin B2 – riboflavin

Why do you need it?

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is one of the water-soluble B vitamins. We need it to help release energy from food. It is important for growth, healthy eyesight and red blood cells. It’s also one of the lesser known antioxidants, protecting your cells and DNA from damage. The body stores only small amounts of riboflavin in the liver, heart and kidneys, so you need it in your diet every day.


Signs of deficiency include feeling tired, slowed growth, digestive problems, cracks and sores around the corners of the mouth, swelling of mucous membranes, swelling and soreness of the throat, eye fatigue and sensitivity to light. Deficiency usually occurs along with a deficiency of other B vitamins, so there may be other symptoms too.

How much do you need?

The World Health Organisation recommends 1.1 milligrams of riboflavin (vitamin B2) a day for women and 1.3 milligrams a day for men. The recommended intakes for infants, children and adolescents, as well as pregnant and lactating women are given below.

Recommended nutrient intakes for riboflavin. Click to read more…
Age groupRecommended nutrient intake mg/day
Infants and children
0-6 months0.3
7-12 months0.4
1-3 years0.5
4-6 years0.6
7-9 years0.9
Females 10-18 years1.0
Males 10-18 years1.3
Females, 19-65 years1.1
Males, 19-65 years1.3
Pregnant women1.4
Lactating women1.6
Source: WHO, FAO. 2004. Vitamin and mineral requirements in human nutrition. 2nd ed. Geneva: WHO.

Where to find vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

The best plant sources of riboflavin (vitamin B2) are green leafy vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds, wholegrains, some fruits and fortified foods

  • Pulses: Popular varieties include yellow, green and split peas, red kidney beans, black beans, mung beans, cowpeas (black-eyed peas) and red ‘masoor’ lentils. They are a versatile staple in Uganda and are used in curries, soups, stews, salads or simply boiled and served as a side dish and are rich in riboflavin. One cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils contains 0.15 milligrams of riboflavin and one cup (177 grams) of cooked kidney beans, 0.10 milligrams.         
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, sunflower and sesame (simsim) seeds are a good source of riboflavin and can be eaten as snacks or added to salads and other dishes. A small handful (28 grams) of almonds contains 0.3 milligrams of riboflavin.
  • Wholegrains: Brown rice, millet and sorghum contain riboflavin and are popular in Uganda. Other, less widely available grains that contain riboflavin include quinoa and buckwheat. One cup (195 grams) of cooked brown rice contains 0.14 milligrams of riboflavin.   
  • Green leafy vegetables: kale, spinach, Swiss chard and collard greens contain moderate levels of riboflavin and are commonly used in many dishes in Uganda.
  • Mushrooms: Not widely available in Uganda, mushrooms are also a source of riboflavin and may be found in some supermarkets.
  • Fruits: Some fruits like avocados and bananas contain riboflavin. Popular in Uganda, they can be eaten as snacks or used in smoothies and desserts.
  • Fortified foods: Some foods in Uganda are fortified with riboflavin, such as fortified cereals and fortified plant-based milks.