Riboflavin and health: A review of recent human research

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Nov 22;57(17):3650-3660. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2016.1145104.


There has lately been a renewed interest in Riboflavin owing to insight into its recognition as an essential component of cellular biochemistry. The knowledge of the mechanisms and regulation of intestinal absorption of riboflavin and its health implications has significantly been expanded in recent years. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the importance of riboflavin, its absorption and metabolism in health and diseased conditions, its deficiency and its association with various health diseases, and metabolic disorders. Efforts have been made to review the available information in literature on the relationship between riboflavin and various clinical abnormalities. The role of riboflavin has also been dealt in the prevention of a wide array of health diseases like migraine, anemia, cancer, hyperglycemia, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and oxidative stress directly or indirectly. The riboflavin deficiency has profound effect on iron absorption, metabolism of tryptophan, mitochondrial dysfunction, gastrointestinal tract, brain dysfunction, and metabolism of other vitamins as well as is associated with skin disorders. Toxicological and photosensitizing properties of riboflavin make it suitable for biological use, such as virus inactivation, excellent photosensitizer, and promising adjuvant in chemo radiotherapy in cancer treatment. A number of recent studies have indicated and highlighted the cellular processes and biological effects associated with riboflavin supplementation in metabolic diseases. Overall, a deeper understanding of these emerging roles of riboflavin intake is essential to design better therapies for future.

Keywords: Riboflavin; anemia; cataract; deficiency; diseases; oxidative stress; risk.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / prevention & control*
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Diet*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Riboflavin / metabolism*
  • Riboflavin / therapeutic use*
  • Riboflavin Deficiency / physiopathology*
  • Riboflavin Deficiency / prevention & control
  • Vitamins / metabolism
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use


  • Vitamins
  • Riboflavin