Holistic Health – Nutrients A to Z: Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

Vitamin B5, also called pantothenic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin from the B group of vitamins. It helps produce energy by breaking down fats and carbohydrates. It also promotes healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. It is an essential nutrient, meaning it is required from our diets because our bodies cannot make it. It is required to synthesize coenzyme A (CoA) which is needed for energy metabolism, as well as to synthesize and metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

Vitamin B5 is also known as pantothenic acid, or Pantothenate. The word pantothenic comes from the Greek “pantou,” meaning everywhere. Nearly all foods contain small quantities of pantothenic acid, but are most predominant in meat, eggs, whole grains, wheat germ, bran, kidney, liver, heart, green vegetables, brewer’s yeast, nuts, chicken, legumes, salmon, mushrooms, elderberries, and oranges.

So why do we need vitamin B5?

Well vitamin B5 has many important functions. These include:

  • Converting food into glucose
  • Synthesizing cholesterol
  • Forming stress-related hormones
  • Forming red blood cells

As with all B vitamins, pantothenic acid helps the body break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins so that our bodies can use them for energy and rebuilding tissues, muscles, and organs.

B5 is one of the less known vitamins, possibly because Vitamin B5 deficiencies are extremely rare in people as pantothenic acid is found in nearly all foods. A healthy and varied diet should provide a person with enough.

That being said deficiencies in pantothenic acid may include:

  • Pupils are unusually large/dilated
  • Periods of deep depression
  • Burning sensation of hands or feet
  • Poor co-ordination
  • Light-headed or dizzy when sitting up or standing up
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Numbness or tingling in hands or feet
  • Joint pains
  • Muscle cramps
  • Rapid heartbeat on exertion
  • Irritability, agitation
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia, sleeplessness
  • Quarrelsome, hot temper
  • Inability to cope with stress
  • Restless legs, constant motion of legs at night

Recommended daily intake

Experts recommend daily intakes of vitamin B5 recommend:

  • Infants 0-6 months – 1.7 milligrams (mg) per day
  • Infants 7-12 months – 1.8 mg per day
  • Children 1 -3 years – 2 mg per day
  • Children 4-8 years – 3 mg per day
  • Children 9-13 years – 4 mg per day
  • Males and females 14 years and over – 5 mg per day
  • Pregnant women – 6 mg per day
  • Breastfeeding women – 7 mg per day

Vitamin B5 is soluble in water and is excreted in urine. Our bodies do not store it, and we need to consume it every day to replenish supplies.

Food that are good sources of Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 is widely found in both animals and plant products.

Sources include:

  • Meat: Pork, chicken, turkey, duck, beef, and especially animal organs such as liver and kidney.
  • Fish: Salmon, lobster, and shellfish.
  • Grains: Whole grain breads and cereals. Whole grains are a good source of vitamin B5 but milling can remove up to 75 percent of the B5 content.
  • Dairy products: Egg yolk, milk, yogurt, and milk products.
  • Legumes: Lentils, split peas, and soybeans.
  • Vegetables: Mushrooms, avocado, broccoli, sweet potatoes, corn, cauliflower, kale, and tomatoes.

Other sources of vitamin B5 include brewer’s yeast, so there is a good reason to head down to your local craft brewery for a pint. Pantothenic acid is widely available in food, but it is lost in processing, for example, in canning, freezing, and milling. To ensure an adequate intake, foods should be eaten fresh rather than refined. As with all water-soluble vitamins, vitamin B5 is lost when food is boiled.

Pantothenic acid is taken as a supplement for a number of conditions, but there is not enough evidence to prove that it is effective in most of these cases.

For people who stay within the recommended daily dose of Vitamin B5, or slightly above, the use of a supplement is likely to be safe, However in saying that, it is always best to check with a health professional before taking a supplement, especially for people with an existing health condition and those who are taking other drugs.

by Janice Buckler

Janice Buckler, BSc, RHN is the owner of Natural Legends Nutritional Consulting and a Registered Holistic Nutritional Consultant™ professional using BioScan MSA (meridian stress assessment) Technology which can help detect many illnesses and so natural remedies can be set up that works for “you”.

To learn more about Holistic Heath and BioScan MSA Technology for to my website at natural-legends.com or follow me on Twitter @JaniceBuckler