During prenatal care, you will often be reminded to take in a lot of folic acid and calcium, but has anyone mentioned Vitamin B2? This vitamin (also known as riboflavin) is absolutely essential to healthy fetal development and to the health of breastfeeding mothers.
Riboflavin for Prenatal and Postpartum Care
Among its many functions within the human body, riboflavin is especially important for growth and development. Here are a few ways it can promote the health of a developing pregnancy:
- Contributes to the baby’s bone, muscle, and nerve development
- Works with Vitamin B1 to create the additional energy needed by the pregnant mother
- Promotes increased blood circulation for mother and fetus and helps prevent pregnancy-related anemia
- Helps prevent preterm labor
- Helps prevent preeclampsia
Breastfeeding mothers need even more Vitamin B2 than pregnant mothers; some women need up to 50% more daily intake of riboflavin than they did before pregnancy. This is because, to provide for the hungry infant, breast milk absorbs much of the Vitamin B2 that the mother ingests.
In addition to promoting pregnancy health, this vitamin performs many vital functions in the body of any individual, male or female. Riboflavin:
- Aids in the general health of skin, eyes, nervous system, and mucous membranes
- Assists with the production of steroids and red blood cells
- Helps the digestive system absorb Iron products from food
- Acts as an antioxidant to promote anti-aging by neutralizing cell-damaging free radicals
- Contributes to hormone production within the adrenal glands
- Helps prevent cataracts
Signs of Deficiency
Deficiency of Vitamin B2 is dangerous for both mother and baby. The signs of deficiency are the same for a pregnant woman as they are for anyone – man, woman, or child. Anyone who does not consume enough dairy products, meat, or leafy green vegetables could be at risk for riboflavin deficiency.
Pregnant or not, you should watch out for the following symptoms:
- Painful cracks around the edges of the mouth
- A tongue that is unnaturally pink or bright magenta in color
- Consistently dry skin
- Eyes that are watery, bloodshot, and sensitive to light
- Red, cracked lips
- Sore throat
The best sources of Vitamin B2 are brewer’s yeast (nutritional yeast), liver, and fresh wheat germ. (Keep wheat germ in the refrigerator and use it soon after purchase, as the natural wheat germ oil can become rancid.) A few more common sources include almonds, whole grains, mushrooms, soybeans, dairy products, eggs, broccoli, and spinach. If you recognize some of the signs of deficiency (listed above) or if you are a pregnant or nursing mother, it may be a good idea to supplement with an all-natural riboflavin supplement.
Destroyed by Light
Riboflavin (B2) is destroyed by light – something you might keep in mind when shopping for milk. Opaque containers are best. If you buy milk in transparent containers, like clear glass or semi-clear plastic, it is another reason to consider using a supplement.
Browse Vitamin B supplements in the Living Clean Store, or read more about the Vitamin B Complex: