Pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5, is a water-soluble vitamin that is a precursor in the synthesis of coenzyme A. Coenzyme A is essential to many biochemical reactions that sustain life, including fatty acid synthesis.
Vitamin B5 is critical to the manufacture of red blood cells, as well as sex and stress-related hormones produced in the adrenal glands, small glands that sit atop the kidneys.
In addition to playing a role in the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates for energy, vitamin B5 is also important in maintaining a healthy digestive tract, and it helps the body use other vitamins, particularly B2 (also called riboflavin). It is sometimes called the “anti-stress” vitamin, but there is no concrete evidence whether it helps the body withstand stress.
Your body needs pantothenic acid to synthesize cholesterol. A derivative of pantothenic acid called pantethine is being studied to see if it may help lower cholesterol levels in the body.
Vitamin B5 deficiency
Naturally occurring pantothenic acid deficiency in humans is very rare and has been observed only in cases of severe malnutrition. The symptoms are:
- stomach pains,
- burning feet, and upper respiratory infections.
Food that contains vitamin B5
Pantothenic acid gets its name from the Greek root pantos, meaning “everywhere,” because it is available in a wide variety of foods.
However, the vitamin B5 in foods is lost during processing. Fresh meats, vegetables, and whole unprocessed grains have more vitamin B5 than refined, canned, and frozen food.
The best sources are brewer’s yeast, mushrooms, corn, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, avocado, legumes, lentils, egg yolks, beef (especially organ meats such as liver and kidney), turkey, duck, chicken, milk, split peas, peanuts, soybeans, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, whole-grain breads and cereals, lobster, wheat germ, and salmon.
Some Food Sources of Pantothenic Acid
|Food||Serving||Pantothenic Acid (mg)|
|Beef liver (cooked, pan fried)||3 ounces*||5.6|
|Sunflower seed kernels (dry roasted)||1 ounce||2.0|
|Fish, trout (mixed species, cooked, dry heat)||3 ounces*||1.9|
|Yogurt (plain, nonfat)||8 ounces||1.6|
|Lobster (cooked)||3 ounces||1.4|
|Avocado (raw, California)||½ fruit||1.0|
|Sweet potato (cooked, with skin)||1 medium (½ cup)||1.0|
|Milk||1 cup (8 fluid ounces)||0.87|
|Pork (tenderloin, lean, cooked, roasted)||3 ounces*||0.86|
|Chicken (light meat, cooked, roasted)||3 ounces*||0.83|
|Egg (cooked, hard-boiled)||1 large||0.70|
|Cheese, feta||½ cup (crumbled)||0.70|
|Lentils (mature seeds, cooked, boiled)||½ cup||0.63|
|Split peas (mature seeds, cooked, boiled)||½ cup||0.58|
|Mushrooms (white, raw)||½ cup (chopped)||0.52|
|Broccoli (cooked, boiled)||½ cup (chopped)||0.48|
|Whole-wheat bread||1 slice||0.21|
|*A 3-ounce serving of meat or fish is about the size of a deck of cards.|
Vitamin B5 is commercially available as D-pantothenic acid, as well as dexpanthenol and calcium pantothenate, which are chemicals made in the lab from D-pantothenic acid.
Unlike other vitamins, vitamin B5 has no Recommended Dietary Allowance. Experts recommend the following daily intakes of dietary vitamin B5:
- Infants birth – 6 months: 1.7 mg
- Infants 7 months – 1 year: 1.8 mg
- Children 1 – 3 years: 2 mg
- Children 4 – 8 years: 3 mg
- Children 9 – 13 years: 4 mg
- Teens 14 – 18 years: 5 mg
- 19 years and older: 5 mg
- Pregnant women: 6 mg
- Breastfeeding women: 7 mg
Higher doses may be recommended by a health care provider for the treatment of specific conditions.
Is vitamin B5 harmful?
The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine has not established a tolerable upper level of intake (UL). The only known adverse effect is diarrhea as a result of very high intakes – between 10 and 20 grams – of calcium D-pantothenate, a common supplement.
Gastrointestinal side effects, such as heartburn and nausea, have also been noted with pantothenic acid doses up to 1,200 mg.
Large doses of pantothenic acid have the potential to compete with biotin for intestinal and cellular uptake by the human sodium-dependent multivitamin transporter.