Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate. The effectiveness ratings for RIBOFLAVIN are as follows:

Effective for…

Preventing and treating low levels (riboflavin deficiency). In adults and children who have too little riboflavin in their body, taking riboflavin by mouth can increase levels in the body.

Possibly effective for…

  • Cataracts. People who eat more riboflavin as part of their diet seem to have a lower risk of developing cataracts. Also, taking supplements containing riboflavin plus niacin seems to help prevent cataracts.
  • High amounts of homocysteine in the blood (hyperhomocysteinemia). Taking riboflavin by mouth for 12 weeks decreases levels of homocysteine by up to 40% in some people. Also, taking it along with folic acid and pyridoxine seems to lower homocysteine levels by 26% in people with high homocysteine levels caused by drugs that are used to prevent seizures.
  • Migraine headaches. Taking high-dose by mouth seems to reduce the number of migraine headache attacks, by about 2 attacks per month. Taking it in combination with other vitamins and minerals seems to also reduce the amount of pain experienced during a migraine.

Possibly ineffective for…

  • Stomach cancer. Taking riboflavin along with niacin does help prevent gastric cancer.
  • Malnutrition caused by too little protein in the diet (kwashiorkor). Some research suggests that taking riboflavin, vitamin E, selenium, and N-acetyl cysteine by mouth does not reduce fluid, increase height or weight, or decrease infections in children at risk for kwashiorkor.
  • Lung cancer. Taking riboflavin by mouth along with niacin does not help prevent lung cancer.
  • Malaria. Taking riboflavin along with iron, thiamine, and vitamin C by mouth does not reduce the number or seriousness of malaria infections in children at risk of being exposed to malaria.
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia). In women that are 4 months pregnant, starting to take riboflavin by mouth does reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia during pregnancy.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…

  • Lactic acidosis (a serious blood-acid imbalance) in people with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Early research shows that taking riboflavin by mouth might by helpful for treating lactic acidosis caused by drugs called nucleoside analog reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
  • Cervical cancer. Increasing intake from dietary and supplement sources, along with thiamine, folic acid, and vitamin B12, might decrease the risk of developing cervical cancer.
  • Cancer of the food pipe (esophageal cancer). Research on the effects of preventing esophageal cancer is conflicting. Some research shows that taking riboflavin by mouth may decrease the risk of getting esophageal cancer, while other research shows that it has no effect.
  • High blood pressure. Early research shows that taking riboflavin by mouth in certain patients at higher risk of high blood pressure due to genetic differences may lower blood pressure when used in addition to prescribed blood pressure medications.
  • Liver cancer. Early research shows that taking riboflavin and niacin by mouth might reduce the risk of liver cancer in people less than 55 years old. However, it does not seem to reduce the risk of liver cancer in older people.
  • Multiple sclerosis. Early research shows that taking riboflavin by mouth for 6 months does not improve disability in patients with multiple sclerosis.
  • White patches inside the mouth (oral leukoplakia). Early research shows that low levels in the blood are linked with an increased risk of oral leukoplakia. However, taking riboflavin supplements by mouth for 20 months does not seem to prevent or treat oral leukoplakia.
  • Iron deficiency during pregnancy. Early research shows that taking riboflavin, iron, and folic acid by mouth does not increase iron levels in pregnant women more than taking just iron and folic acid.
  • Sickle cell disease. Early research shows that taking it by mouth for 8 weeks increases iron levels in people with low iron levels due to sickle cell disease.
  • Acne.
  • Aging.
  • Boosting the immune system.
  • Canker sores.
  • Maintaining healthy skin and hair.
  • Memory loss including Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness for these uses.

Side Effects Of Riboflavin

Riboflavin is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth. In some people, it can cause the urine to turn a yellow-orange color. It may also cause diarrhea.

Warnings & Precautions

  • Hepatitis, Cirrhosis, Billary obstruction: Riboflavin absorption is decreased in people with these conditions.

Dosage Of Riboflavin

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:



  • General: The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults is 1.3 mg per day for males, 1.1 mg per day for women, 1.4 mg per day for pregnant females, and 1.6 mg per day for lactating women. There is no daily Upper Intake Levels (UL), which is the highest level of intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse effects.
  • For preventing and treating low levels of riboflavin (riboflavin deficiency): Riboflavin 5-30 mg daily has been used.
  • For cataracts: A combination of 3 mg plus niacin 40 mg daily for 5-6 years has been used.
  • For high levels of homocysteine in the blood): Riboflavin 1.6 mg daily for 12 weeks has been used. A combination containing 75 mg of riboflavin, 0.4 mg of folic acid, and 120 mg of pyridoxine daily for 30 days has also been used.
  • For migraine headaches: The most common dose is 400 mg daily for at least three months. A specific product (Dolovent; Linpharma Inc., Oldsmar, FL ) dosed at two capsules in the morning and two capsules in the evening for 3 months has also been used. This dose provides a total of riboflavin 400 mg, magnesium 600 mg, and coenzyme Q10 150 mg per day.



  • For preventing and treating low levels of riboflavin (riboflavin deficiency): Riboflavin 2 mg once, then 0.5-1.5 mg daily for 14 days has been used. Riboflavin 2-5 mg daily for up to two months has been used. Riboflavin 5 mg five days per week for up to one year has also been used.


Consult your doctor or pharmacist.


All information has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.