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)|
|Buckwheat groats||1 cup||567||0.444|
|Swiss chard||10 leafs||91||0.432|
|Rye grain||1 cup||571||0.424|
|Seaweed (dried)||1 tbsp||20||0.257|
|Lotus root||1 root||85||0.253|
|Wheat flour (whole-grain)||100 g||332||0.188|
|Sesame seeds||0.5 cup||413||0.178|
|Lima beans||1 cup||209||0.163|
|Pine nuts||0.5 cup||454||0.153|
|Fava bean||1 cup||187||0.151|
|Adzuki beans||1 cup||294||0.147|
|Red bell pepper||1 large||43||0.139|
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|
|Lettuce (red leaf)||0.5 head||20||0.119||0.595|
|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|
|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|
|Brussels sprouts||1 cup||56||0.125||0.2232142857|
|Napa cabbage||1 cup||13||0.027||0.2076923077|
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.