Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin
Riboflavin participates in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s basic energy currency. The body uses ATP any time energy is needed – to move muscles, digest food, breathe, make protein, etc. if riboflavin is in short supply, our energy reserves become depleted and we become lethargic.
Riboflavin also helps the body produce glutathione, a potent antioxidant. Research suggests that riboflavin deficiencies may be associated with the development of cataracts, possibly because glutathione protects the eyes against cellular damage caused by sunlight and other factors.
Riboflavin supplementation may also help prevent and treat migraine headaches. Researchers from the University of Liege, in Belgium, found that riboflavin was more effective than the placebo at reducing the frequency and duration of migraine headaches. More recently, the same researchers published the results of a study indicating that riboflavin provided benefits to migraine patients similar to the benefits provided by beta-blockers (a class of medication). The researchers also observed that riboflavin and beta blockers acted through different mechanisms and might therefore have complementary functions.
Vitamin B3 – Niacin
Niacin plays many roles in the body, including helping enzymes convert food into energy. These same enzymes also help the body manufacture hormones and metabolize fat and cholesterol. Niacin contributes to the process of DNA repair and the stability of genomes and helps boost overall immune system health.
Niacin: Heart Helper
Research shows that niacin – in the form of nicotinic acid – helps to reduce total cholesterol levels and raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. In the Coronary Drug Project, more than 8,000 male subjects took either three grams of nicotinic acid or a placebo every day for six years. The researchers conducting the study found that nicotinic acid significantly decreased total cholesterol and triglyceride levels and reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke.
One note of caution: Consult with your physician before using supplemental niacin to lower total cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol levels – high doses of niacin have been linked to liver damage.