The 30 Top Vegan Whole Food Sources of Riboflavin

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Some of the best riboflavin sources are dairy products, which puts vegans at a little higher risk of developing a deficiency.

Athletes need more riboflavin than non-athletes, so vegan athletes need to pay a little extra attention to their riboflavin intake.

That being said, riboflavin deficiency is very uncommon in first world countries, partially because many grains and cereals are fortified with it.

The recommended daily allowance for riboflavin is 1.3 mg for adult men, and 1.1 mg for adult women.

If you only eat whole foods, it’s not the easiest target to hit compared to other vitamins and minerals.

The Best Vegan Sources of Riboflavin Per Serving

I collected nutrition data from the USDA for 120+ whole foods that are vegan.

After sorting them by riboflavin content per serving, these were the top 30:

Food Serving Energy (kcal) Riboflavin (mg)
Spinach 1 bunch 78 0.643
Almonds 1/2 cup 313 0.615
Durian 0.5 durian 442 0.602
Squash 1 large 52 0.459
Buckwheat groats 1 cup 567 0.444
Swiss chard 10 leafs 91 0.432
Rye grain 1 cup 571 0.424
Zucchini 1 large 55 0.304
Soybeans 1 cup 254 0.279
Seaweed (dried) 1 tbsp 20 0.257
Lotus root 1 root 85 0.253
Cowpeas 1 cup 160 0.244
Oats 1 cup 607 0.217
Plantain 1 plantain 329 0.205
Quinoa 1 cup 222 0.204
Eggplant 1 eggplant 137 0.203
Avocado 1 avocado 227 0.194
Peas 1 cup 117 0.191
Wheat flour (whole-grain) 100 g 332 0.188
Sesame seeds 0.5 cup 413 0.178
Pummelo 1 fruit 231 0.164
Lima beans 1 cup 209 0.163
Fig 5 large 237 0.16
Pine nuts 0.5 cup 454 0.153
Fava bean 1 cup 187 0.151
Adzuki beans 1 cup 294 0.147
Kale 2 cup 15 0.146
Lentils 1 cup 230 0.145
Red bell pepper 1 large 43 0.139
Cashew 0.5 cup 393 0.137

Overall, there’s a good variety in types of foods that have a significant amount of riboflavin in them:

  • Vegetables – Spinach, squash, swiss chard, zucchini, and seaweed are all near the top.
  • Nuts – Almonds are a great source of riboflavin, and pine nuts and cashews are okay sources as well.
  • Fruits – Durians and plantains are good sources of riboflavin, although not too commonly eaten.
  • Grains – Buckwheat groats and rye grain are both solid sources of riboflavin. Bonus points if you buy rye bread that’s fortified with more riboflavin.

So you have a lot of choices, even if you’re picky.

The Top Riboflavin-Rich Vegan Foods Per 100 Calories

The grains and nuts have a lot of calories in them, so they’re not necessary ideal if you’re on a diet.

I created another table below that is ordered by the amount of riboflavin in 100 calories of each food (which may be multiple servings).

Sticking to these foods will keep your overall caloric intake low.

Food Serving Energy (kcal) Riboflavin (mg) Riboflavin (mg) per 100 calories
Seaweed (dried) 1 tbsp 20 0.257 1.285
Watercress 10 sprigs 3 0.03 1
Kale 2 cup 15 0.146 0.9733333333
Squash 1 large 52 0.459 0.8826923077
Spinach 1 bunch 78 0.643 0.8243589744
Asparagus 4 spears 13 0.083 0.6384615385
Lettuce (red leaf) 0.5 head 20 0.119 0.595
Rapini 5 stalks 21 0.123 0.5857142857
Zucchini 1 large 55 0.304 0.5527272727
Bok choy 1 cup 9 0.049 0.5444444444
Water spinach 1 cup 11 0.056 0.5090909091
Swiss chard 10 leafs 91 0.432 0.4747252747
Bamboo shoot 1 shoot 17 0.072 0.4235294118
Mustard greens 1 cup 15 0.062 0.4133333333
Celery 1 stalk 9 0.036 0.4
Broccoli 1 cup 31 0.106 0.3419354839
Arugula 1 cup 5 0.017 0.34
Green bean 10 beans 17 0.057 0.3352941176
Red bell pepper 1 large 43 0.139 0.323255814
Turnip greens 1 cup 18 0.055 0.3055555556
Lotus root 1 root 85 0.253 0.2976470588
Gourd 1 gourd 36 0.107 0.2972222222
Cauliflower 1 cup 27 0.064 0.237037037
Radish 2 large 3 0.007 0.2333333333
Brussels sprouts 1 cup 56 0.125 0.2232142857
Cucumber 0.5 cucumber 23 0.05 0.2173913043
Napa cabbage 1 cup 13 0.027 0.2076923077
Almonds 1/2 cup 313 0.615 0.196485623
Okra 8 pods 31 0.057 0.1838709677
Cabbage 1 cup 22 0.036 0.1636363636

Vegetables are overwhelmingly the best source of riboflavin if you’re concerned about calories.

Almost every result in the top 30 is a vegetable. You’ll have to eat a lot of them to reach your RDA, but it can be done, and it will keep your overall calories low.

What is Riboflavin Used For

Riboflavin has a wide variety of uses in the body, involved in energy production, growth, and metabolism.

In particular, some believe that riboflavin might play a part in relieving migraine headaches and preventing certain types of cancers. However, the evidence is not strong enough to prove or disprove those links yet.

About the author

Dale C.

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance writer. Trying to do my small part in making the world better by writing about the wonderful world of veganism.

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