Riboflavin Steals Sheep – Book Excerpt of the Week

If you haven’t seen “How To Train Your Dragon”, I’m about to spoil it with riboflavin (vitamin B2). In that movie, wild dragons are stealing the villager’s sheep. One boy discovers the dragons aren’t actually eating the sheep, they’re just dumping them into this giant hole. Turns out, there’s a colossal dragon in the hole, and if we pretend the sheep are hydrogen atoms it’s a great metaphor for the Electron Transport Chain.

The following book excerpt comes from the “What Does It Do” section of the Riboflavin chapter of the Energy Drink Guide:


In the body, there are all these (“redox”) reactions going on where Hydrogen atoms are passed around like the gravy dish at Thanksgiving dinner. This hydrogen passing occurs in fat metabolism (beta-oxidation) and carbohydrate metabolism (the Krebs cycle). In each case, riboflavin’s job is to collect the hydrogen atoms, carry them to a certain spot, and drop them into the Electronic Transport Chain (or “ETC”). When ETC is fed Hydrogen atoms, the result is heaps of metabolic energy.

In a previous book excerpt, we talked about how thiamin would be a leader if the B-vitamins were all Marvel Avengers. If B-vitamins were all superheroes and you were assembling your dream squad for an energy drink, you’d want riboflavin in the mix too. To learn more about riboflavin and the other B-vitamins, stay tuned for next week’s book excerpt as we continue our page-by-page exploration through the Energy Drink Guide.

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Thiamin, Anorexics, Athletes, and Alcoholics – Book Excerpt of the Week

Thiamin (Vitamin B1) is a popular ingredient in energy drinks, sports supplements, and other “functional” beverages. In last week’s book excerpt, we talked about how thiamin would be a leader if the B-vitamins were all Marvel Avengers, and how thiamin’s role in carbohydrate metabolism makes it an important facilitator in energy production. Thiamin is readily absorbed, readily depleted, and easily excreted, so you can never have too much. But what happens when you don’t get enough? There are different names for thiamin deficiency, depending on how it manifests.


Anorexics, athletes, and alcoholics may all experience thiamin deficiency, for different reasons. Starvation leads to dry Beriberi. The combination of high carbohydrate intakes and heavy exercise can lead to wet Beriberi. Heavy alcohol use can lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Alcohol diminishes thiamin absorption and increases its excretion. Since thiamin is not readily stored, a poor quality diet with heavy alcohol consumption can lead to rapid thiamin depletion and deficiency.

Stay tuned as we look at other B-vitamins in our page-by-page tour through my book on the science of energy drinks and their ingredients.

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Thiamin and Carbohydrate Metabolism – Book Excerpt of the Week

Last week we talked about how some energy drinks have B-vitamins, but not all B-vitamins are relevant to the way the body generates energy. If the B-vitamins were the Avengers, then Thiamin would definitely be one of the strongest members. Thiamin is a crucial part of how the body turns glucose into energy.


Glucose is the most basic unit of a carbohydrate and the preferred fuel for the body. As a glucose molecule is broken down to release energy it must become a molecule/metabolite named pyruvate. Thiamin (as its coenzyme form, thiamin pyrophosphate or TPP) keeps that enzyme humming like a well-oiled machine. So without sufficient thiamin, carbohydrate metabolism screeches to a halt. Thiamin as TPP participates in the metabolism of fat, protein, and nucleic acids, but it’s carbohydrate metabolism that’s first to go haywire with a thiamin deficiency.

Stay tuned as we look at other B-vitamins in our page-by-page tour through my book on the science of energy drinks and their ingredients.

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Thiamin (vitamin B1), the Avengers, and Beriberi – Book Excerpt of the Week

Energy drinks are often referred to as “concoctions of sugar, caffeine, and B-vitamins”, but some B-vitamins aren’t considered essential or even relevant to energy levels. Obviously they’re all essential to life, but if the B-vitamins were all members of the Avengers, would you know which B-vitamin is like Hulk and which is more like Hawkeye?


Many vitamins are discovered as “That thing that keeps (something bad) from happening.” In the case of thiamin, the bad thing is a disease called beriberi.


There are two kinds of beriberi: wet and dry. A diet high in carbohydrates, combined with strenuous physical exertion can use up a significant amount of thiamin, leading to wet beriberi. Insufficient energy from food and inactivity are associated with dry beriberi. Wet beriberi includes an enlarged heart and buildup of excess fluid in intracellular spaces (called “edema”). Dry beriberi includes muscle wasting in addition to impaired sensory, motor, and reflex functions (called “peripheral neuropathy”).

With this book excerpt, you might come to the conclusion that “people are lethargic without thiamin”. While this is true, it’s also misleading.

Thiamin does not give people energy. It’s more of a facilitator than fuel.

Thiamin participates in the metabolism of fat, protein, nucleic acids, and especially carbohydrates. That’s why carbohydrate metabolism is the first to go haywire with thiamin deficiency.

Thiamin is definitely a major player in the B-vitamin Avenger squad, but we’ll get into  (the nerdy, biochemical bits on) WHAT THIAMIN DOES next week as we continue our page by page tour through my book on the science of energy drinks and their ingredients.

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GreenEyedGuide Caffeine Challenge Day 3/10 – Alcohol and Caffeine (Friday Night Dilemma)

For Day 3 of the GreenEyedGuide Caffeine Challenge, we discuss the Friday Night Dilemma: what do you do when you get tired at 10 pm but you want to enjoy a night on the town and have an alcoholic beverage?

References in the video - FoodNavigator on the DAWN report and Caffeine Informer on alcohol and energy drinks

March is Caffeine Awareness Month – Join the Caffeine Challenge!

Through this challenge, you’ll learn how to use the 5 Levels of Fatigue to reap the benefits of caffeine while avoiding addiction, dependence, tolerance, and toxicity.

PLAY ALONG – post a picture of your WAKE-UP tool/trick on Instagram and tag @GreenEyedGuide, or add your pictures to the Caffeine Challenge Event page at Facebook.com/GreenEyedGuide/events