Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is a nutrient with a long list of benefits, including migraine prevention.
And it turns out there’s another benefit of vitamin B2: healthy aging. According to a new study out of Kobe University, riboflavin helps prevent cell aging. It does this by helping your cells’ mitochondria produce energy.
In this article, we’ll break down what the study has to say, along with other potential anti-aging benefits of vitamin B2.
What is Vitamin B2?
Vitamin B2 (aka riboflavin) is a water-soluble nutrient. This means your body doesn’t store it and needs to be replenished every day via food or supplements. Riboflavin’s main job is to help your body convert protein, carbohydrates, and fat into energy. Yet vitamin B2 serves many other functions.
Here are some other ways vitamin B2 helps your body:
- Promotes red blood cell production to prevent anemia
- Helps regulate thyroid function
- Has antioxidant effects
- Supports glutathione production
- May help prevent cancer
- Helps the body maintain healthy collagen levels
- Prevents migraine headaches
- Has neuroprotective effects
For a deeper dive into riboflavin’s benefits, check out this article. But for now, let’s move on to how it helps with aging.
Does Riboflavin Have Anti-Aging Benefits?
Well, yes and no. Nothing can turn back the clock. But new research shows riboflavin may slow down the aging process, helping you age more gracefully.1
And it all revolves around senescence. Cell senescence is when cells stop dividing and resist dying off.2
When cells become senescent, they emit harmful chemicals that can trigger inflammation. This can damage healthy cells nearby, making them become senescent too. This can create a vicious cycle.
As you age, the number of senescent cells in your body rises. As senescent cells increase, so does your risk of age-related illnesses. This includes cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and osteoporosis. Cell senescence has also been linked with declining mobility, eyesight, and cognition.2
But here’s the good news. A new study published in Molecular Biology of the Cell found that vitamin B2 suppresses cell senescence. Researchers added vitamin B2 to cells that had been exposed to age-related stress. They found that adding riboflavin increased the mitochondria’s ability to produce energy. This, in turn, helped prevent cell aging.
The more B2 in the solution, the more the cells were able to resist senescence. They also found that cells’ ability to absorb B2 increased when under stress. This discovery offers hope that riboflavin may be a natural treatment option for age-related disorders. That said, more research is needed. Luckily, animal experiments are already underway to confirm any anti-aging benefits of vitamin B2.
Other Ways Vitamin B2 May Help With Aging
Riboflavin’s ability to prevent cell aging is impressive. Yet there are many other ways vitamin B2 helps with aging, including:
Vitamin B2 works as an antioxidant, which can help slow down the aging process. That’s because one of the top culprits of aging is oxidative stress. This happens when there’s an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants.
Antioxidants stabilize free radicals, which can reduce oxidative stress that leads to aging. In fact, in one study fruit flies given riboflavin had longer lifespans and stronger reproduction.3 These benefits were credited to vitamin B2’s antioxidant effects.
Riboflavin even helps your body produce other antioxidants, such as glutathione.4 This ‘master antioxidant’ helps detox the liver and is known for its anti-aging benefits.
Your body needs vitamin B2 to maintain healthy collagen levels. Collagen is the protein that gives skin a smooth and supple appearance, and it declines naturally as you age.
Without enough collagen, fine lines and wrinkles can set in. So if you want to keep your collagen production strong, getting enough riboflavin is a must.
It’s no secret that as we age, our vision can change. Yet vitamin B2 may help protect your eyes from age-related eye disorders.
Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are more common with age. Thankfully, vitamin B2 has neuroprotective effects.7 It’s believed this is due to its ability to calm inflammation, reduce oxidative stress, and boost mitochondrial function.
How to Get More Riboflavin
Riboflavin deficiency tends to be rare since it’s found in a variety of foods. People following plant-based diets are more prone to be low in riboflavin. This is because many of the best sources of vitamin B2 come from animal protein and dairy. In addition, riboflavin deficiency becomes more common with age. Luckily, adding riboflavin-rich foods to your diet can help get your vitamin B2 in a healthy range.
Foods high in riboflavin include:8
- Beef liver
Supplements are another way to boost your riboflavin intake. This can be especially helpful for the elderly or those on plant-based diets, who are more prone to deficiency.
Riboflavin supplementation is also be beneficial for people with migraine. At high doses (400 mg/day for adults and 200 mg/day for children age 2-12) is is shown to reduce the frequency and intensity of future migraine attacks, without harmful side effects.9
Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is a nutrient involved in many bodily processes. And according to new research, riboflavin may help slow down the aging process. It’s shown to suppress cell senescence or cell aging. Vitamin B2 also promotes eye health, skin health, and has neuroprotective and antioxidant effects. All of which support healthy aging.
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