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Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

Vitamin B5 Function

Vitamin B5 is a water soluble vitamin, an essential nutrient necessary for the release of energy from foods, synthesis of hemoglobin, neurotransmitters and some other substances in your body [1].

The other name for vitamin B5–pantothenic acid–arises from the Greek pantothen, which means “from every side” and refers to the fact that vitamin B5 is present in wide variety of foods [2].

Pantothenic acid makes up part of coenzyme A (CoA)–an essential coenzyme in the energy metabolism.

Recommended Daily Intake

The Adequate Intake Level (AI) for pantothenic acid for men and women is 5 mg/day, during pregnancy 6 and during breastfeeding 7 mg/day [1,3].

Food Sources of Vitamin B5

  • PLANT FOODS: fortified ready-to-eat cereals, grains (rice, oats, wheat), rice bran, mushrooms, avocado, corn, sunflower seeds, potatoes, dark green leafy vegetables, spirulina, lentils, peas, beans
  • ANIMAL FOODS: organ meats (liver, heart, brain), beef, pork, fish and other seafood, eggs (yolks), whey
  • Yeast extract
  • Human breast milk contains sufficient amount of vitamin B5 for infants age 0-6 months.
  • References: [1,3]

Freezing and food processing can reduce the vitamin B5 content of foods by 35-75% [1].

Vitamin B5 Deficiency

Vitamin B5 deficiency is rare and occurs only in severe malnutrition; symptoms include fatigue and burning and tingling feet.

Vitamin B5 Supplements

Vitamin B5 in the form of pantothenol (alcohol derivative of pantothenic acid), or D-pantothenate (calcium or sodium salt of pantothenic acid) as dietary supplements without prescription (over-the-counter) is available [1]. Pantothenic acid is also included in B-complex and some multivitamin supplements.

Possible Vitamin B5 Benefits

Pantothenic acid supplements are effective for treating or preventing pantothenic acid deficiency [4].

Pantothenic acid is possibly ineffective or there is insufficient evidence about its effectiveness in treating or preventing acne, alcoholism, allergies, anxiety, arthritis (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis), asthma, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, colitis, common cold, conjunctivitis, convulsions (epilepsy), dandruff, depression, diabetes mellitus, dizziness, enlarged prostate, gout, gray hair, hair loss, headache, heart problems, insomnia, irritability, low blood pressure (hypotension), lung disorders, kidney stones, migraine, multiple sclerosis, muscular cramps, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), shingles, skin disorders (lupus, keratosis pilaris, psoriasis, rosacea), skin reactions from radiation therapy, yeast infection; enhancing immune function or weight loss, improving athletic performance, reducing adverse effects of thyroid therapy or stimulating adrenal glands [4].

Pantethine, a synthetic substance made of 2 pantothenic acids, may reduce blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels [1].

Pantothenic Acid Safety: Side Effects, Toxicity

Pantothenic acid is well tolerable in doses up to 1,200 mg/day [1].

Overdose (10-20 g/day) may cause diarrhea; no other toxic effects were observed so far. Allergic reaction is possible. In recommended doses, vitamin B5 is likely safe for most people, including children [4].

Who should avoid pantothenic acid?

Do not take pantothenic acid if you have hemophilia or gastrointestinal blockage.

During Pregnancy

Pantothenic acid is a pregnancy category C drug, which means no adverse effects have been observed in the human fetuses, but insufficient studies have been done to exclude them [5]. Speak with your doctor if you intend to use pantothenic acid supplements during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

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