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Vitamin B5 – Pantothenic acid



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Pantothenic acid deficiency can be corrected with pantothenic acid supplementation; the recommended dose is unknown as pantothenic acid deficiency is so rare.

What is pantothenic acid?

Pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5, is an essential vitamin that performs many functions in the body.  Like all B vitamins, it helps with metabolism and helps convert food to energy. It is also a water-soluble vitamin, which means that it is not readily stored in the body and must be consumed on a regular basis to ensure adequate levels.

Where is pantothenic acid found?

Almost all types of food contain some amount of pantothenic acid.  Some of the best plant-based sources include sweet potatoes, mushrooms, legumes, avocados, broccoli, and some fortified breakfast cereals.  Some animal-derived sources include beef, chicken, eggs, fish, and liver.

Pantothenic acid can also be found in some dietary supplements, including multivitamin supplements, B-complex vitamins, and pantothenic acid supplements.  Supplemental pantothenic acid can be found as pantothenol, calcium D-pantothenate, or sodium D-pantothenate.

Why is pantothenic acid important?

The primary function of vitamin B5 is to make two different compounds: coenzyme A (CoA) and acyl carrier protein (ACP).  CoA helps perform many biological processes, including the breakdown and synthesis of fatty acids, as well as the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

ACP helps synthesize fatty acids in the body.  These two compounds are integral to good health, so it is important to consume enough vitamin B5 through a balanced diet.

What is the RDA?

The Adequate Intake (AI) for pantothenic acid is 5 mg for adults, and 6 mg and 7 mg for pregnant and lactating women, respectively.  Moreover, the AI for pantothenic acid is 4 mg for children between nine and thirteen years, 3 mg for children between four and eight years, 2 mg for children between one and three years, 1.8 mg for infants between seven and twelve months, and 1.7 mg for infants under six months.

Vitamin B5 is transferred through breast milk and is found in fortified infant formulas, allowing infants can meet their AI.

These values are given by the National Institutes of Health, and the AI represents the amount of a vitamin that is assumed to meet nutritional needs.  This value is used when there is not enough research to establish a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA).  Three ounces of beef liver can provide 166% of the AI, and a half cup of shiitake mushrooms or a quarter cup of sunflower seeds can provide 52% and 48% of the AI, respectively.

How much is too much?

However, taking high-dose pantothenic acid supplements over 10 grams daily could result in mild digestive upsets.

What are the benefits of pantothenic acid?

Some evidence suggests that pantothenic acid could potentially help accelerate wound healing.  One study found that skin fibroblast cells increased cell differentiation and function when given pantothenic acid in vitro(not inside the body).  This is associated with faster wound healing, but more research needs to be done to determine whether the same effect occurs within the human body.

Since pantothenic acid is associated with lipid metabolism, some researchers believe that it could be beneficial in regulating lipid levels.  One study found that taking pantethine supplements, which is a derivative of pantothenic acid, was associated with a 16.5% reduction in blood triglyceride levels after eight weeks in patients with dyslipidemia.  However, all participants in the study received dietary counselling, which could account for some of the decline in triglyceride levels.  More research is needed to determine whether this association is valid.

Pantothenic acid deficiency

Pantothenic acid deficiency is quite rare as nearly all foods contain some pantothenic acid; however, some groups are at a higher risk of deficiency than others.  For example, people with severe malnutrition are at risk of deficiency as they are likely deficient in many nutrients.

There is not much scientific research done on pantothenic acid deficiency as it is uncommon, however some reported symptoms include numbness of the extremities, headache, fatigue, sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal disturbances, loss of appetite, and irritability.

Pantothenic acid supplementation

Pantothenic acid deficiency can be corrected with pantothenic acid supplementation; the recommended dose is unknown as pantothenic acid deficiency is so rare.  Deficiency can also be prevented by meeting the RDA for pantothenic acid on a daily basis, either through food or pantothenic acid supplements.

If you think you have pantothenic acid deficiency or are at an increased risk, consider getting your blood levels tested.  As always, consult your doctor before you begin taking any vitamin or mineral supplement, to make sure your medications or health conditions don’t make it a serious risk.


Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

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