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Is Riboflavin Vegan? A Plant Based Riboflavin Guide

Posted by Aaron Seminoff on

Vegans care about our planet and all its creatures. Adherents respect the right to live of every inhabitant of Earth and are dedicated to avoiding animal mistreatment and cruelty.

For these reasons, vegans, to the best of their ability, steer clear of eating animals or anything containing animal products. Meat, fish, seafood, dairy, honey and eggs all make the Do Not Eat list. In addition, clothing made from or containing things like leather and fur and products tested on living creatures are taboo.

While avoiding animal-based foodstuffs is simple enough when planning meals, things get complicated when a vegan is faced with taking nutritional supplements.

Since animal-free diets do not always provide necessary amounts of some nutrients to keep people healthy and feeling their best, vegans often turn to supplements to fill in the gaps. Iron, omega-3s, iodine, protein, zinc, vitamin D, calcium, B vitamins, and sufficient calories are often in short supply.

While fortified cereals are beneficial, many experts recommend supplements providing 25-100% of the recommended daily allowance—and higher amounts for the B vitamins. 

While all nutrients are vital for optimum functioning of body systems and avoiding disease, riboflavin (aka B2) is an unsung hero. Adherents of a meat-free lifestyle often ask the question: Is riboflavin vegan? A little background information is necessary to answer this query...

What Is Riboflavin?

There are eight vitamins in the B-complex family: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12. They have a few things in common: 

• Healthy hair, liver, eyes, and skin depend on them.
• They are instrumental in keeping the nervous system working as it should.
• Some B vitamins are essential for proper nervous system development in unborn babies.
• They are helpful in metabolizing protein and fats.
• They play a role in converting carbohydrates into glucose, providing energy.
• Since they are water soluble, the body does not keep any excess.

Riboflavin provides many additional benefits. Firstly, Vitamin B2 is an antioxidant. As such, it combats free radicals, which are harmful to DNA and cells. This damage can result in heart disease, cancer, and other health issues, and it may play a role in aging. In addition, B2 is important for vision, improves the body’s absorption of iron and utilization of folic acid and Vitamin B6, and promotes growth. 

A lack of this essential nutrient results in sores near the lips and on the corners of the mouth, a swollen tongue, dermatitis, throat swelling and discomfort, exhaustion, digestive issues, inhibited growth, tired eyes, and light sensitivity.

What Foods Contain Riboflavin?

Organ (liver and kidneys) and lean meats, eggs, and milk are the best sources of Vitamin B2. Since this is the case, a rich in riboflavin vegan diet is a bit of a challenge.

However, there is some riboflavin in almost all food. Happily for vegans, whole grain bread, leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli, maple syrup, soybeans, raw mushrooms, rice, and tea are good sources, as are the above-mentioned fortified cereals.
Is Riboflavin Vegan


What About Supplements?

Nutrition-conscious vegans who wish to ensure an adequate intake of this essential nutrient may decide supplements are the answer. These individuals will need to become label-readers (a worthwhile activity for any health-conscious consumer) and do a bit of research. For while many dietary-supplement manufacturers use corn starch or another non-animal growth medium, some producers utilize beef (especially organ meat) extract. 

Savvy consumers will do well to contact the company twice—and communicate with a different individual each time—for confirmation, particularly if the first response is not satisfactory.

Concluding Thoughts

Getting enough riboflavin, whether through diet or nutritional supplements, may seem complicated--and involve consuming foods that are not exactly favorites. However, there is good news. Even if the thought of eating broccoli is enough to make a person want to skip lunch, there are many delicious ways to prepare riboflavin-rich dishes. A broccoli & chickpea rice bowl contains two B2 powerhouses. What's more, chickpeas are a wonderful source of fiber, minerals, and vitamins, and their ability to control blood sugar and support heart health (among other perks) make them a staple in every diet.

This info answers the questions: What is vegan? and Is riboflavin vegan? These guidelines can help people eat a palate-friendly, high in riboflavin vegan diet. Here’s to your health.

Vegan Riboflavin


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