Data on Mood and B-2 (riboflavin)

According to clinical nutritionist Blake Graham, all vitamins and minerals are involved in one or more biochemical pathways and/or physiological actions which influence the function of the human brain. Most vitamin and mineral deficiencies result in psychiatric symptoms in a significant number of people, and in people with psychiatric diagnoses these deficiencies are often associated with more severe symptoms and poorer outcome from conventional treatment. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies may act as an exacerbating factor secondary to malnutrition, alcoholism, etc. or may be a primary causative factor. Either way, optimisation of nutrient levels is in each patients best interest.

Several named vitamin deficiency diseases may result from the lack of sufficient B-vitamins.  Also, several unnamed, sub-clinical responses can result from B-vitamin deficiency.

Deficiency causes ariboflavinosis. Symptoms may include cheilosis (cracks in the lips), high sensitivity to sunlight, angular cheilitis, glossitis (inflammation of the tongue), seborrheic dermatitis or pseudo-syphilis (particularly affecting the scrotumorlabia majora and the mouth),pharyngitis, hyperemia, and edema of the pharyngeal and oral mucosa. 

A riboflavin deprivation study, undertaken with 6 male volunteers, examined the effect of riboflavin deficiency on aspects of personality and behaviour.  (Ray T. Sterner, 1973).  Results indicated increased levels of depression, hysteria, psychopathic-deviate behavior and hypomania in riboflavin deficient individuals.  Chronically, riboflavin deficient individuals were reported to be more depressed based on ratings from the Adjective checklist, although not more depressed on the Frieburg personality inventory scale. (Heseker H. 1992)

Riboflavin is essential to many pathways involved in the metabolism of protien, fats and carbohydrates (Mann. 2000) and for the activity of some 450 enzymes, involved in the metabolism of selected toxins and medications.  (Rivlin RS. 1996)  Riboflavin is also required for the activity of numerous antioxidant enzymes including glutathione reductase, which regenerates endogenous glutathione.  In fact, the activity of glutathione reductase is used clinically and in research as a functional marker for riboflavin status. (Powers HJ. 1999)  Relating to riboflavins antioxidant function, riboflavin deficiency has been associated with oxidative stress. (Rivlin RS. 1996)  Major depression has also been associated with oxidative stress which may play a role in its development. (Bilici M. 2001)

A small amount of research has investigated riboflavin status in psychiatric patients.  Of 36 inpatients with major depression, a significant number were deficient in riboflavin.  (Bell IR. 1991)  Of 172 consecutive mixed psychiatric inpatients, 27% were deficient in riboflavin (MW Carney. 1982)  and 1/12 of agoraphobia patients were deficient in riboflavin (LC Abbey, 1982)


Forthcoming articles focus on riboflavin used in combination with other nutrients.  Stay tuned!  And, for some ‘computer-y reason’ I cannot access the reference list for this article.  I will add it in a few days when it becomes available, or you can email me for a copy (






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