Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is an important nutrient that is crucial in converting carbs and fat into energy in your mitochondria to ensure you feel energised.
Getting enough vitamin B2 from dairy, meat, fish, and leafy green vegetables is crucial for maintaining good health and vitality.
This article will show you the foods and recipes that contain the most vitamin B2 using the tools and charts used by Optimisers in our Micros Masterclass.
- Vitamin B2 Food Chart
- Vitamin B2 Rich Foods (Per Serving)
- Vitamin B2 Rich Foods (Per Calorie)
- Vitamin B2-Rich Recipes
- Why is Vitamin B2 Important?
- Benefits of Vitamin B2 in Your Dody
- Vitamin B2 Deficiency Symptoms
- Satiety Response to Riboflavin
- Optimal Vitamin B2 Intake
- Availability of Vitamin B2 in the Diet
- Why Vegans May Need to Prioritise Vitamin B2
- Fun Fact – Vitamin Supplements
- Storage Losses
- Processing Losses
- How Can I Calculate if I am Getting Enough Vitamin B2?
- Nutrient Density Starter Pack
- Nutrient Series
Vitamin B2 Food Chart
The chart below shows a range of popular foods in terms of vitamin B2 (per calorie) vs vitamin B2 (per serve). Foods towards the right will provide more vitamin B2 per calorie, while the foods towards the top will provide more vitamin B2 in the serving sizes we typically eat them.
For more detail, you can dive into the interactive Tableau version of this chart (on your computer), check out the food lists of popular foods below or download longer lists in our Optimising Nutrition Community here.
Vitamin B2 Rich Foods (Per Serving)
The popular foods listed below will give you more vitamin B2 in the typical serving sizes we consume them in.
- egg (whole)
- chicken thigh
- goat cheese
- chicken drumstick
- pork chops
- egg whites
- Greek yogurt (non-fat)
- beef steak (sirloin)
- feta cheese
- chicken breast
- Camembert cheese
- beef steak
- chicken thigh (skin eaten)
- brie cheese
- ground beef
Vitamin B2 Rich Foods (Per Calorie)
Foods highest in vitamin B2 per calorie tend to be green veggies like the ones listed below.
- egg whites
- coriander leaf
- bok choy
- dill pickles
- Greek yogurt (non-fat)
- sour pickles
- mustard greens
Vitamin B2-Rich Recipes
The chart below shows our 1400+ NutriBooster recipes that we use in the Micros Masterclass plotted in terms of vitamin B2 vs protein %. Recipes towards the right will help you boost your vitamin B2 with fewer calories. Note that vitamin B2 and protein % trend together, so if you get adequate protein, you’ll likely also get a solid amount of vitamin B2.
To dive into the detail, you can open the interactive Tableau version of this chart (on your computer). Then, click on each recipe to learn more about it and view a picture of the recipe.
Some examples of our NutriBooster recipes that contain the most vitamin B2 are shown below.
Why is Vitamin B2 Important?
- Energy production: Vitamin B2 is necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, which are the body’s main sources of energy. It helps convert food into fuel that can be used by the body to carry out its functions.
- Red blood cell production: Vitamin B2 is also involved in the production of red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen to the body’s tissues and organs.
- Skin and eye health: Vitamin B2 is important for maintaining healthy skin, nails, and eyes. It helps prevent skin disorders like dermatitis and supports the health of the cornea.
- Brain function: Vitamin B2 plays a role in the production of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that transmit signals between nerve cells. It also supports healthy brain function and may help prevent certain neurological disorders.
- Antioxidant activity: Vitamin B2 has antioxidant properties that help protect the body from oxidative stress, which can lead to cell damage and contribute to the development of chronic diseases.
Benefits of Vitamin B2 in Your Dody
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) enables your body to break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates and is vital in maintaining your body’s energy supply.
Riboflavin helps convert carbohydrates into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for use in your cells.
You require almost twice as much riboflavin to burn fat as burning glucose for fuel. So, vitamin B2 is particularly important if you are on a lower-carb diet and getting most of your fuel from fat.
Riboflavin also plays an essential role in producing red blood cells and releasing energy from your food, as well as maintaining the health of your skin and digestive tract.
You will require more vitamin B2 if you are losing weight or active, and even more, if you are both losing weight and being active at the same time.
Vitamin B2 Deficiency Symptoms
Symptoms of riboflavin deficiency include:
- iron-deficiency anemia,
- migraine headaches,
- congestive heart failure,
- high homocysteine,
- Parkinson’s disease,
- skin disorders,
- sores on your mouth and lips,
- swelling of mucous membranes, and
- vulval and scrotal dermatitis.
Satiety Response to Riboflavin
Our satiety analysis of people using the Nutrient Optimiser shows a strong response to food containing more vitamin B2. In addition, people who consume foods that contain more vitamin B2 tend to eat about 17% fewer calories.
But more vitamin B2 is not necessarily better. We can see that the satiety benefit tapers off above quickly above 4.5 mg of riboflavin per 2000 calories.
The median intake of vitamin B2 (thiamine) of our Optimisers is 2.8 mg/2000 calories, with an 85th percentile intake of 7.8 mg/2000 calories. This is significantly higher than the Estimated Average Requirement of 1.1 mg/day and the Daily Recommended Intake of 1.3 mg/day.
It’s hard to overdose on vitamin B2 because it is water-soluble and easily excreted in the urine. However, it’s important to note that we don’t see a greater satiety impact with very high intakes of vitamin B2 from supplements or fortification.
Optimal Vitamin B2 Intake
Based on the robust satiety response data, we have set a stretch target of 6.0 mg/2000 calories for vitamin B2 (thiamine). Once you start to get the hang of nutrient density, you could ‘level up’ by working to achieve these stretch targets to optimise your nutrition. For more details, see:
Availability of Vitamin B2 in the Diet
Riboflavin availability has increased with the fortification of grains and cereals since the 1940s and again in the 1970s. However, as shown in the chart below (data from USDA Economic Research Service), fortification provides enough B2 to meet the Daily Recommended Intake (i.e., 1.3 mg/day). Even with fortification, dietary thiamine declined after the introduction of the USDA Guidelines for Americans in 1977.
Why Vegans May Need to Prioritise Vitamin B2
Without eggs, milk, liver, or a lot of fresh vegetables in their diet, vegans may struggle to get enough vitamin B2.
People who do not consume animal products should minimise processed foods that contain minimal vitamin B2 and focus on nutrient-dense, minimally processed whole foods.
People following a high-fat diet (e.g., keto or low carb) may also need to prioritise riboflavin, given that high-fat foods typically don’t contain a lot of it. As noted above, you also need more vitamin B2 to convert the fat in your diet to usable energy in your cells.
Fun Fact – Vitamin Supplements
It’s vitamin B2 that causes the fluorescent pee when we supplement B vitamins, so vitamin manufacturers often like to add a little bit extra to make you feel you are getting your money’s worth.
However, our analysis indicates you won’t be getting any additional satiety benefit beyond around 6 mg/day of vitamin B2. Isolated supplements alone are unlikely to provide significant benefits, particularly if you are already meeting the Dietary Reference Intake. As always, you should prioritise food first before investing in supplementation.
Riboflavin is heat stable, so it doesn’t break down when you cook it. However, vitamin B2 leaches into the cooking water and degrades quickly when exposed to light (which is why milk cartons are opaque).
Between ten and twenty per cent of riboflavin is lost in the pasteurisation of milk and 10 to 20% in the cooking of meat.
How Can I Calculate if I am Getting Enough Vitamin B2?
If you’re interested in determining if you’re getting just the right amount of vitamin B2 in your diet, you can check your nutrient profile using our Free 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge.
After a week of tracking your current diet in Cronometer, Nutrient Optimiser will give you a prioritised list of foods and NutriBooster recipes that will help you plug your current nutritional gaps, including vitamin B2.
Nutrient Density Starter Pack
We’re eager to make the process of Nutritional Optimisation as simple as possible. So, to help you increase your intake of all the essential nutrients, including vitamin B2, when you join our free Optimising Nutrition Community, you’ll get a starter pack that includes:
- Food Lists – optimised for each essential nutrient, goals, preferences and conditions.
- The Healthiest Meal Plan in the World – see what a week of nutrient-dense eating looks like.
- Recipes – check out samples of each of our NutriBosoter recipe books.
- 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge – identify your priority nutrients and the foods and meals that contain them.
- Biotin (B7)
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Thiamine (B1)
- Riboflavin (B2)
- Niacin (B3)
- Pantothenic acid (B5)
- Vitamin B6
- Folate (B9)
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K1
- Vitamin K2