Most of us are always making sure we get enough calcium or vitamin C. But you also may want to double-check your diet for riboflavin, or B2—particularly if you’re lactose intolerant or don’t eat dairy. Sure, true deficiencies are rare in the U.S. But many of us may not be getting optimal levels of this vitamin. And for overall energy and especially migraines, you really need it.
Migraines + riboflavin
When it comes riboflavin and migraines, the evidence is clear for adults. Consuming more than the recommended daily amount of vitamin B2 through diet can be beneficial. In one study, a group of participants aimed to get 2.07–2.87 mg of riboflavin a day. The results? Compared to those consuming only 1.45 mg a day, there was a 27% reduction in migraine occurrence and severity.
Because your body doesn’t store much of this vitamin, it’s also important to get it in your diet daily. While bacteria in the large intestine can make riboflavin if the body needs it, whether or not that happens may depend on your gut health.
What to eat for riboflavin
Many foods offer riboflavin, but some are better than others. Here’s what belongs on your grocery list to up your intake.
Choose a piece of salmon that weighs at least 2.5 ounces. You’ll get .4 mg or more of riboflavin. And as a bonus, you’ll also be taking in omega-3 fatty acids. They’re great for inflammation, energy, hormone production, and more.
Broccoli, asparagus, and spinach are all great ways to add more riboflavin to your diet. (And they come with plenty of other positives, too.) One thing to remember: riboflavin is water-soluble. Some of the nutritive content may be lost if you boil your veggies. But, since riboflavin’s heat-stable, feel free to roast away. Just throw them in a sheet pan with some olive oil and turn the oven on to 400 degrees Farenheit.
Along with a satisfying crunch, almonds offer more riboflavin than many common snack foods. Grab a handful when you’re feeling hungry between meals. One serving (or one-quarter cup) offers about .35 mg of riboflavin, plus satiety-promoting protein and healthy fats.
Think twice about getting riboflavin from these
Many cereals are fortified with up to 100% recommended daily intake (RDI) of certain vitamins and minerals. And that often includes riboflavin. But take care when eating refined products (anything that comes from a box). While getting enough riboflavin is important, the preservatives in these foods can trigger migraines in some individuals.
Easy, over-easy, or scrambled, eggs are a great source of riboflavin with .4 to .5 mg per every two you cook up. But before you get out your pan, know that eggs can be a migraine trigger. In fact, since the 1930s, studies have shown eliminating eggs has significantly reduced migraines for a substantial amount of people.
Just can’t seem to get enough riboflavin from your diet? Talk to your doctor or provider about whether a supplement is a good idea and how much to take. Keep in mind: your body can’t absorb more than about 27 mg of riboflavin at a time. Many multivitamins already contain riboflavin, and some dedicated riboflavin supplements may offer far more than you can absorb at once.