Vitamin of the Week – B2 – Riboflavin – with some healthy controvesy!

 smorgasbord health

Welcome to the start of this week’s health posts and whilst I am going to cover one of the essential B vitamins today; B2 – Riboflavin, I am also going to be stirring things up a bit with some controvesy.  I do not care what dietary stance that you have as long as you follow it fully informed. Over the last twenty years I have worked with many people whose health has been compromised, sometimes seriously by following the latest food trend. The worst being the complete withdrawal of one of the main food groups that has sustained and developed the human body over hundreds of thousands of years.

There is a new theory and ‘expert’ opinion every decade and I consider this to be highly dangerous to health. Second guessing nature never ends well and that includes modifying the foods that we eat, removing nutritious natural foods from our diet, and mass farming of animals to produce the cheapest possible foods possible. I would rather do without my flat screen television, smart phone or other ‘must haves’ than compromise on food quality.

Later on in the post you will find some other views on the subject but in the meantime here is one vitamin that plays a vital role in our health.

Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin

Like the other B vitamins, B2 plays an important role in energy production by ensuring the efficient metabolism of the food that we eat in the form of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It plays a key role in our nutritional processes such as its help in processing amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which is the substance that we are made of. Twenty amino acids are needed to build the various different proteins used in the growth, repair and maintenance of our body tissues and whilst eleven of these are made by the body itself, the others must be obtained from our diet and processed by other agents including B2.


Vitamin B2 is a vitamin that is essential for metabolising carbohydrates to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate) without which we would be totally lacking in energy. It also works with enzymes in the liver to eliminate toxins, which helps keep us clear of infection.

Pre-Natal health

B2 is needed to change B6 and Folic Acid into an active and usable form so that our nervous system is protected. Folic acid is essential for healthy cell division and is needed before and during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy to help prevent birth defects. B2 is also part of the process that changes tryptophan, so important to our mental wellbeing, into niacin.

Blood Health

Research into anaemia has highlighted the role of B2 in the body’s inability to manufacture red blood cells. There are two areas that would appear to be particularly critical. One is the vitamin’s role in mobilising iron from storage to the cells and secondly that a deficiency prevents the efficient absorption of iron. (I will be doing a post on Anaemia later in the week)

Antioxidant efficiency

Our bodies have an extremely complex chemical operating system and it is synergistic. It is rare for one of the chemical components to work in isolation and it usually requires a reaction to occur to achieve a function. For example B2 is needed to recycle the vital antioxidant Glutathione in its oxidised state (after it has done its job to detoxify the unstable free radicals) into reduced Glutathione so it can go back and do the job again.

Other areas where B2 is essential.

Without sufficient B2 we would not have healthy skin, nails and hair and our thyroid function can be compromised

B2 works in conjunction with B1, B3 and B6 and as a supplement is more usually taken as part of a B complex. Incidences of deficiency are low but are more prevalent in alcoholics and has been found in people suffering from cataracts or sickle cell anaemia. It is more likely to be a problem in developing countries where there has been some link to preeclampsia in pregnant women.

Sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome, the main symptom being lack of energy, are often deficient in the B vitamins and again B2 would be included as part of a B-complex supplement.

Other areas where eating foods rich in B2 may be helpful are with migraines, headaches, cataracts, rheumatoid arthritis, anaemia and also skin conditions such as acne.

The vitamin is water-soluble and cannot be stored in the body except in very small amounts so needs to be replenished from diet every day.

Dairy products are one of the main sources of Vitamin B2.


You will see a number of articles on the toxic components in milk products in comparison to prepared soy, nut and other milks touted as the healthier option. Man has been drinking the milk of sheep, goats and cows for many thousands of years and you can be sure they got more than milk when they did, including the bacteria from their own unwashed hands as they milked the animal. My stand on dairy products is you get what you pay for and if you insist on buying the cheapest possible milk and other dairy products you are encouraging the practice of mass farming. I like my milk to come from cows that live an outdoor life, eat grass and line-up of their own accord when it is time to hit the milking parlour.

Having said that in most of our countries there are vigorous testing and processing stages in place to minimise the toxic content of what we eat and drink. I am not naive and know that the various sectors of the food industry will spin whatever story is necessary to get us to buy their product in favour of a competitor; but being an informed consumer means doing your own research. Here is an article on milk you might like to read and then one on the promoted health benefits of drinking the alternatives. If I was to use an alternative it would not be soy-milk but rice milk. The only proviso with rice milk is if you are diabetic or at risk of diabetes and you can find out more in the link.

Offal meats.

Over the last twenty years there has been a move away from the offal meats that used to be so popular such as liver and kidney. Again I prefer to buy organic and we certainly eat from time to time. The main issue with liver is that it is both the waste organ of an animal and also the body’s storage facility which makes it a strong tasting meat as well as making it unpopular with many who feel it is gross to eat organ meat. Here is an informative article from Dr. Mercola.

It is a rich source of B Vitamins and if you do eat meat then I recommend that you go to a butcher that sells organic organ meats or a farm shop and buy from that source.



This is another rich B vitamin food source that has suffered in recent years from bad press. At various times eggs have been blamed for increased cholesterol, salmonella and other diseases. The cholesterol theory has been debunked and with the screening now available within the high end of  the egg industry; it is rare to find infected eggs.

It is also to remember that if you have a strong immune system, promoted by a healthy diet your body is designed to deal with a level of toxins in our food very effectively. It is only the very young and elderly, or those who have compromised immune systems that are at risk.

Again I am against factory farming particular of chickens to I am very happy to pay more for this highly nutritious food. It is a powerhouse and contains healthy amounts of not only B vitamins but also protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Selenium and phosphorus. I eat one a day and as an alternative to meat and fish regularly during the week.

Wholegrain Rice.


This is another of my daily foods and whilst it is again a trend to exclude all grains from the diet I strongly disagree. I cannot tolerate white, packaged bread that has been industrially produced. Not because it has the natural wheat included but because it does not. It has a heavily refined white flour that has been added to by various chemically enhanced additives and sugar. If I eat fresh home-baked soda bread made with wholegrain flour or even the supermarket bakery baguettes; I don’t have a problem.

The same with rice. I would not touch refined cheap white rice as it has lost all its nutrients in the processing and some have even been added back artificially to give it a ‘healthy’ appeal. We use Basmati wholegrain rice which is a slow burning fuel, low on the Glycemic Index and full of nutrition including the B vitamins. If you would like to know more about the Glycemic index of foods here is the link from last week.

Vegetarian options.

You can get B vitamins from vegetarian sources and in particular dark green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. You can include Soybeans but again I would pay extra and buy guaranteed non-genetically modified products. Also good amounts in asparagus, mushrooms and almonds.

Chopping and cooking can destroy over 75% of the vitamin content of green vegetables. Step one is not to buy fresh greens that have been pre-cut and packaged. They might be more convenient but by the time it gets to your pot after several days it will have lost at least 50% of its nutritional content. Then if you overcook much of the rest will disappear into the water.

Buy the vegetables whole, eat raw or steam. Buying good quality frozen vegetables is another alternative but again most have been chopped before freezing.

Coming up this week.. Anaemia and how to ensure you are not at risk.

You will find the previous posts on the nutrients we need to be healthy in this directory.

Smorgasbord Health – The Blood – The foods and menu.

As we get older, our bodies find it more difficult to metabolise the food that we eat in an efficient manner. Illness and stress can also cause deficiencies to occur. As I have covered in the last few blogs, one of the most common health problems we are likely to encounter is anaemia in varying degrees from mild to dangerous levels. The aim is to consume a diet rich in the specific nutrients needed to maintain healthy blood but it is difficult to visualise when someone simply tells you to eat B6, B12, Folate etc. So I have put together those nutrients with the foods that contain them so that you can just pop to the supermarket and fill your trolley.

I would suggest that anyone who like me is 60+ should include these foods on a regular basis in your daily diet.

This specific eating plan includes the foods that will provide you with the necessary nutrients for healthy blood but do remember that if you are exhibiting any symptoms that indicate you are anaemic you should go to your doctor and seek medical advice. You will find those in one of the previous posts which are linked to below.

As always I do stress that it is better to ‘cook from scratch’ but there are certain staples that you can include in your pantry. Many people prefer an easy start to the day with a bowl of cereal and perhaps a piece of toast. Cereals today are very different from our childhood when all you got was the grain. Today I am afraid you are likely to get a lot more sugar and salt which somewhat negates the benefit of the wholegrain. If I have cereal I have porridge oats but for the sake of variety do check the labels and buy wholegrain varieties with as little sugar as possible.

In recent months there has been a lot of speculation about wholegrains in our diet in relation to what is referred to as our ‘gut brain’. I covered the topic in an earlier series on digestion but my opinion remains the same. Provided you are not celiac or have chronic intestinal problems, wholegrains are essential in our diets to provide B vitamins, other nutrients and fibre. We certainly need less as we get older because our activity levels drop but carbohydrates from grains are needed to provide the fuel that we require for our energy levels. Drop those too low and your fatigue will be intensified. You can still eat carbohydrates from potatoes and other root vegetables and add in one or two portions of grains per day depending on your exercise levels.

Here are some suggestions for the main meals of the day plus snacks.


Breakfast choose one selection per day and rotate so that you are getting variety and different nutrients.

  • Most cereals have B12, B6, Folic Acid and Iron – check the labels to establish that. Some will be added as fortification but if it is a wheat cereal it will have natural nutrients.
  • Have cereal or porridge and a glass of orange juice to help the digestion of iron with Vitamin C. Have some soaked prunes on your porridge or chopped dry prunes on your cereal, as these are high in iron.
  • If you are not trying to lose weight then have a piece of wholemeal toast with butter and marmalade as well. Better to have small amount of good quality chunky marmalade than a watery processed diet version.
  • Sprinkle a dessertspoon of wheatgerm on the top of your cereal or your porridge as this has B6, iron and manganese together (B12, B6, Folic Acid, Iron, Manganese and Vitamin C)
  • Half a grapefruit with two pieces of wholemeal toast and marmalade. (Vitamin C –Manganese)
  •  For a cooked breakfast you could have poached egg on two pieces of wholemeal toast with an orange juice. (Manganese, Vitamin C, B12 and B6)

(A tip here is to avoid wheat bran, as this can actually prevent absorption of iron. As can unfortunately too much tea so do try and restrict your intake to no more than three cups a day of good quality leaf tea rather than the processed bags. Coffee has some health benefits too and a cup or two of fresh ground coffee with some hot milk is fine. If you have high blood pressure however you might have ground decaffeinated instead.

 pumpkin seeds


  • Have a mid-morning snack as part of your healthy eating plan. You could have a handful of the mixed seeds and nuts (B6, Manganese)
  • 2 mandarin oranges (Vitamin C again, to help the iron you have already ingested to be absorbed)
  • A banana (B6)
  • Slice of wholemeal toast with mashed banana (Manganese and B6)



Assuming this is your main meal of the day – choose from the following meats:

  • · Lamb
  • · Chicken
  • · Turkey
  • · Salmon
  • · Beef
  • · Lamb’s liver
    (try to have liver at least once a week) (folate, B6, B12 and iron)
  • · Potatoes
  • · Wholemeal rice or pasta (manganese – folate)

Lots of vegetables including every day a serving of a dark green leafy vegetable like spinach (Folate-Iron) Cauliflower (raw) (Vit K), Broccoli (calcium)

Use olive oil or good quality sunflower oil for cooking or as a dressing (Essential fatty acids and Vitamin E)



  •  Nuts and seeds. For men pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of Zinc and helpful to keep the prostate healthy.
  •  Slice of wholemeal toast with butter and a thin slice of mature cheddar.
  •  Home-made wholemeal scone with butter and sugar free jam.
  •  Fruit such as oranges.
  •  Yoghurt live with no sugar but chop up some fruit such as berries into it.

If you are not going to hit the dance floor every evening, having a heavy meal at night can cause digestive problems and provides energy that you are not going to use up.. This will result in storage of the excess around your middle. If it is your main meal of the day keep your grain and other carbohydrates to your lunch and eat protein with lots of freshly prepared salads and vegetables. A smaller amount of carbohydrate up to 2 hours before going to sleep is fine. As you will see from the lists one piece of toast, one piece of Pitta bread,


baked beans two

Assuming this is a lighter meal.

  • · Scrambled Eggs on toast (B6, B12, Folate, Manganese)
  • · Omelette and Green leafy mixed salad (B6, B12, Folate)
  • · Wholemeal Pitta bread with chicken or tuna and salad filling (B6, B12, Iron)
  • · Eggs Florentine – baked egg on spinach with some hollandaise sauce
  • · Homemade wholemeal pasta in tomato sauce on toast.
  • · Small tin of sugar free baked beans on wholemeal toast.
  • · Seafood cocktail on with clams – cockles – prawns. Serve on half an avocado Slice of bread and butter.



  •  One of the snacks from above that you have not already had.
  •  Cup of Cocoa (iron)
  •  Cup of Ginger Tea and a wholemeal digestive biscuit (Manganese)
  •  A banana (B6)

As you can see from the above eating plan, there are many foods that will help keep your blood healthy. Get creative in your own kitchen, using fresh unprocessed ingredients and you can’t go wrong.

That is the end of the series on our life blood and I hope you have found interesting.

Previous posts in the blood series