Vitamin B5 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.
People need B5 to synthesize and metabolize fats, proteins, and coenzyme A.
B5 is one of the less known vitamins, possibly because deficiencies of it are rare.
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.
Vitamin B5 has many important functions. These include:
- converting food into glucose
- synthesizing cholesterol
- forming sex and stress-related hormones
- forming red blood cells
Vitamin B5 has a role in synthesizing coenzyme A.
Coenzyme A is involved in the synthesis of fatty acids and is important for converting foods into fatty acids and cholesterol.
Coenzyme A is also needed for the creation of sphingosine, a fat-like molecule that helps deliver chemical messages inside the body’s cells.
The liver needs Coenzyme A to metabolize some drugs and toxins safely.
Vitamin B5 helps maintain a healthy digestive system and assists the body in using other vitamins, especially vitamin B2. Vitamin B2 helps manage stress, but there is no evidence that pantothenic acid reduces stress.
Some studies have shown that vitamin B5 works as a moisturizer on the skin and enhances the healing process of skin wounds.
One study showed that vitamin B5 helped facial acne and reduced the number of acne-related facial blemishes when taken as a dietary supplement. Researchers noted a “significant mean reduction in total lesion count” after 12 weeks of taking a B5 dietary supplement. The authors call for more trials to confirm the results.
Cholesterol and triglycerides
Some studies suggest that vitamin B5 intake can help lower cholesterol and levels of blood triglycerides, or fats. This course of management should only be pursued under medical supervision.
Vitamin B5 deficiency is extremely rare in people as pantothenic acid is found in nearly all foods. A healthy and varied diet should provide a person with enough.
Clinical trials have shown, however, that a deficiency may lead to:
- sleep disorders
- stomach pains
- muscle cramps
- burning feet
- upper respiratory infections
A deficiency of B5 can cause an increased sensitivity to insulin.
In mice, a vitamin B5 deficiency led to skin irritation and graying of the fur, but this was reversed when pantothenic acid was given.
However, according to Oregon State University,
“In humans, there is no evidence that taking pantothenic acid as supplements or using shampoos containing pantothenic acid can prevent or restore hair color.”
Jane Higdon, Ph.D., Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University
When the level of B5 intake is restored to normal, many of these symptoms are reversed.
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.
Vitamin B5 is widely found in both animals and plant products.
- 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, peanuts, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, royal jelly, and oatmeal 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.
Scientists have found that bacteria in the lining of the colon might generate pantothenic acid, but this has not yet been proved.
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, but anyone who is considering taking a supplement should consult a doctor first.
A very high dose, for example, of 10-20 grams (gm) a day, may cause diarrhea and increase the risk of bleeding. If vitamin B5 is taken as a supplement, it can cause an imbalance in other B vitamins. For this reason, it is preferable to take a B complex vitamin. This should be taken after eating, with water.
Royal jelly contains vitamin B5 so care should be taken not to consume royal jelly alongside a vitamin B5 supplement.
Vitamin B5 can interact with some drugs. It may interfere with the absorption and effectiveness of the antibiotic, Tetracycline.
It can also increase the effect of some drugs for Alzheimer’s disease, known as cholinesterase inhibitors. These drugs include donepezil (Aricept), memantine hydrochloride (Ebixa), galantamine (Reminyl) and rivastigmine (Exelon). Taking supplements with these drugs could lead to adverse effects.
People who use blood-thinning drugs, such as warfarin (Coumadin) or aspirin should take care when using vitamin B5 supplements, as B5 can increase the risk of bleeding.
Women should not take more than 6 mg a day when pregnant, and 7 mg when breast-feeding, as it may not be safe.
It is always best to check with a doctor before taking a supplement, especially for people with an existing health condition and those who are taking other drugs.