Riboflavin shows blood enhancing properties for UK women

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

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Daily supplements of riboflavin may improve measures of blood health, including haemoglobin levels, says a new clinical trial that highlights the potential significance of moderate deficiency of the B vitamin.

According to findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition​, some population groups in rich countries are at risk of moderate deficiency in the nutrient, but the implications of this moderate deficiency is not totally clear.

The new study – by scientists at the University of Sheffield and The Institute of Food Research in England – indicated that supplemental riboflavin for eight weeks in women with moderate deficiency corrected their riboflavin status and increased haemoglobin levels, suggesting a role in the use of iron.

“Moderately poor riboflavin status can affect iron status: the lower the riboflavin status, the greater the hematologic benefits of improving status,”​ wrote the researchers.

The England-based scientists also indicated that the results suggest that the biochemical measures of riboflavin deficiency should be raised.


Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is commonly used in multivitamin and B complexes and has become a stalwart of energy drink products due to its energy-giving potential. Other benefits include its role as an antioxidant.

Dietary riboflavin is present in liver, egg yolk, milk, and meat, whereas the vitamin is commercially synthesized for nutritional use in the fortification of various food products such as bread and breakfast cereals.

Deficiency in the vitamin is common in many parts of the world, not simply confined to the developing countries, but also reported in the elderly and young adults in some industrialized nations.

Study details

One hundred British women aged between 19 and 25 with moderate riboflavin deficiency, measured using the well-established erythrocyte glutathione reductase activation coefficient (EGRAC), were randomly assigned to receive placebo, or 2 or 4 mg riboflavin for two months.

Both riboflavin groups displayed improvements in riboflavin status, with the higher dose producing a greater increase.

“For women who received supplemental riboflavin, an increase in haemoglobin status correlated with improved riboflavin status,”​ said the researchers.

On the other hand, no changes in iron intake or iron absorption were observed.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Volume 93, Number 6, Pages 1274-1284
“Correcting a marginal riboflavin deficiency improves hematologic status in young women in the United Kingdom (RIBOFEM)”
Authors: H.J. Powers, M.H. Hill, S. Mushtaq, J.R. Dainty, G. Majsak-Newman, E.A. Williams

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