What is the difference between vitamin B2 and other B vitamins?

Neal Spruce
Neal Spruce on behalf of dotFIT
Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is one of the entire B vitamin complex. As with all vitamins, it is required to maintain human health. Each of the B-vitamins (like all individual vitamins) have their specific functions but also work together and are responsible for virtually all metabolic and developmental processes that take place in the body including, energy production, cell division & replication, growth, etc. The human body needs riboflavin along with the other B vitamins to help convert food to energy, and to properly utilize fats and protein.

B2 (riboflavin) is a primary component of the cofactor FAD and FMD and thus is required by all flavoproteins, which are intricately involved the electron transport chain (energy for all cells), in removal of radicals contributing to oxidative stress, photosynthesis, DNA repair and apoptosis. Marginal deficiencies do exist for B2 in some populations such as athletes/dieters maintaining low body fat.

Because of its structure, B2 (riboflavin) imparts a yellow color and is the primary reason for bright yellow urine in people using high levels of B vitamins supplements (this is generally harmless).

Food sources are milk, cheese, organ meats, yeast, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes and almonds.

The other B vitamins include B1 (thiamine), B3 (niacin), B5 (Pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxamine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), and B12 (cobalamin). Clinically, high-dose riboflavin has been shown to be useful alone or with beta-blockers in the prevention of migraines. A dose of 400 mg daily has been successfully used in the prophylaxis of migraines, especially combined with 500mgs of magnesium citrate and often in combination with coenzyme Q10. But in normal health, the goal is to make sure you get proper daily amounts of all B vitamins. This goal is accomplished by eating a healthy diet (as found in the Sharecare Fitness application) and taking a daily multivitamin and mineral formula that contains the B vitamins within the amounts shown below (upper portion of range for active people and/or dieters unless otherwise noted):
  • B1: 2-10 mg
  • B2: 5-10mg
  • B3 (Niacinamide -- this form will not cause flushing): 15-30 mg
  • B5: 0-15 mgs (women and over 50)
  • B6: 6-12 mg
  • B7 (biotin): 100-300 mcg
  • Folic acid: 200-400 mcg
  • B12: 12-100 mcg
There are seven other B vitamins in addition to vitamin B2 or riboflavin. They are thiamine (B1), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9), and cyanocobalamin (B12). Each of the B vitamins shares the job of helping your body metabolize sugar for energy and helping create or improve cells. The reason they are classified as different vitamins, however, is because they all serve a slightly different specific function. For example, too little B12 or B6 in your diet could cause you to have anemia, and thiamine is very important in healthy brain function.

Continue Learning about Vitamins



In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates vitamin supplements and provides recommended daily amount information. The FDA says that we should pay attention when considering vitamin supplements, because ...

frequently many different vitamins and minerals are combined into one product.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.