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Br J Nutr. 1993 Mar;69(2):541-51.

The effect of exercise on the riboflavin status of adult men.

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National Institute of Nutrition, Indian Council of Medical Research, Hyderabad.


Six sedentary to moderately active men with biochemical signs of riboflavin deficiency were studied under metabolic ward conditions to examine the effects of physical activity on riboflavin status. All participants were subjected to additional exercise (EXER) for an 18 d period between two maintenance (M1 and M2) periods (16 and 13 d respectively) of habitual physical activity. Energy balance and riboflavin intake were maintained throughout the study. Riboflavin status, as judged by a significant reduction in erythrocyte glutathione reductase (EC activation coefficient (EGR-AC), improved on changing from home (1.53 (SD 0.14)) to period M1 (1.36 (SD 0.21)) diets. The exercise period, however, resulted in a significant deterioration in riboflavin status (1.57 (SD 0.31)) which persisted in the subsequent period M2 (1.54 (SD 0.15)). There was a concomitant fall in the urinary excretion of riboflavin only in the EXER period, when results were expressed as a percentage of the dietary intake of riboflavin. These results suggest an increased demand for the vitamin for selective biochemical functions during exercise. However, the energy cost of walking (treadmill 4 km/h), 50 W and 100 W work-loads (bicycle ergometer) as well as delta mechanical efficiency (DME) did not change during the three metabolic periods. The urinary excretion of riboflavin was inversely related to DME (r -0.49; P < 0.05) and directly correlated with haemoglobin levels (r 0.63; P < 0.005). The present study suggests that riboflavin status further deteriorates during a short period of increased physical activity in individuals whose riboflavin status is marginal.

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