Diet and Nutrition

All About Vitamin B5 and Why We Need It

Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid is a B vitamin found in all living cells of the body.

All About Vitamin B5 and Why We Need It

What is vitamin B5?

Vitamin B5 is also known as pantothenic acid. This B vitamin was initially discovered by chemist Roger J. Williams in the year 1931. Pantothenic acid was basically discovered in combination with other compounds, and around 1938, it was successfully isolated on its own.

In 1933, Williams named this vitamin from the Greek word panthos, which means from all sides. The substance's name was derived from this Greek word due to its widespread presence in food and most living cells. 

Vitamin B5 is a water-soluble B vitamin that is necessary for the production of blood cells and conversion of food into energy. Vitamin B complex is also needed by the body to have the following:

  • Healthy liver and nervous system
  • Healthy gastrointestinal tract
  • Healthy eyes, skin, and hair
  • Production of sex hormones and stress-related hormones
  • Production of red blood cells (RBCs)

Just like other B vitamins, vitamin b5 has a significant role when it comes to energy metabolism. It acts as a coenzyme to certain chemical reactions that produce energy. It also plays a role in the synthesis of carbohydrates, hormones, and fat from the foods we consume and turn them into energy for the body to use. 

Sources of Vitamin B5

The following food sources are high in pantothenic acid:

  • Vegetables (broccoli, cabbage family, whole-grain cereals, and white or sweet potatoes)
  • Meats
  • Poultry
  • Eggs 
  • Dairy products
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Mushrooms

To ensure that you are getting enough vitamin B5, you have to regularly consume a healthy, balanced diet. This B vitamin is easy to incorporate into your diet since it is found in many different foods. 

Nutritional yeast is also considered as one of the best sources of B vitamins, especially for vegans and vegetarians. Aside from food sources, vitamin B5 also come in the form of supplements as capsules, gels, or tablets. 

Symptoms of Vitamin B5 Deficiency

A deficiency in vitamin B5 is quite rare since this vitamin is present in almost all types of food. In developed countries, this vitamin deficiency is also quite rare because most people get their daily recommended calorie intake and are uncommonly malnourished. However, a deficiency may occur when it is combined with other B vitamin deficiencies. 

The following are some of the common symptoms of a vitamin B5 deficiency:

The symptoms usually go away when vitamin B5 deficiency is corrected. 

Risk Factors

There is an increased risk of developing a vitamin B5 deficiency in the following people:

  • People with severe malnutrition
  • People with absorption problems due to intestinal disorders or certain medications
  • Women who use birth control pills 
  • Alcoholics

Recommended Intake of Vitamin B5

The recommended intake of vitamin B5 usually depends on a person's age. The following recommended daily allowances are set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the US Institute of Medicine:

Age Group

Vitamin B5 Requirement

0 to 6 months old

1.7 mg/day

7 months to 12 months old

1.8 mg/day

1 to 3 years old

2 mg/day

4 to 8 years old

3 mg/day

9 to 13 years old

4 mg/day

14 to 18 years old

5 mg/day

19 years old and above

5 mg/day

Pregnant Women

7 mg/day

Lactating Mothers

7 mg/day

Benefits of Vitamin B5

Let's take a look at some of the benefits of vitamin B5:

1. Converts food into usable energy

Carbohydrates are converted into glucose with the help of B vitamins. Glucose is used by the body as fuel and produces energy. When the enzyme called coenzyme-A (CoA) is synthesized by B vitamins, it breaks down sugar from the foods we eat into glucose for energy. 

Aside from sugars, B vitamins also help in the synthesis and metabolism of proteins and fats. Along with other B vitamins, vitamin B5 helps to rebuild tissues, organs, and muscles in the body. 

Since vitamin B5 has a significant role in nutrient extraction and digestion, people with severe vitamin B5 deficiency are more likely to develop digestive issues. To help maintain optimal levels of vitamin B5, make sure to regularly consume foods that are rich in B vitamins, including vitamin B5. 

2. Maintains a healthy nervous system

Acetylcholine is a chemical that enables the nervous system to properly communicate with other organs in the body, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, spleen, immune system, and more. Vitamin B5 is needed for the synthesis of this chemical. Acetylcholine is also used to send nerve signals to the muscles. Without vitamin B5, there would be damage to the nerves and impaired body movements. 

A vitamin B5 deficiency is one of the reasons why people experience muscle pain and impairment, including the condition called Grierson-Gopalan syndrome or burning feet syndrome, which causes an aching or severe burning sensation in the feet along with ongoing weakness and fatigue. 

B vitamins also improve mental function since they tend to reduce the progression of cognitive decline or age-related memory loss among elderly people. Aside from memory loss, getting enough B vitamins, including vitamin B5 may help prevent:

  • Migraines
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Motion sickness
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Chronic brain syndrome (CBS)

3. Helps relieve stress and anxiety

Since vitamin B5 helps regulate the body's hormones, it also has the ability to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. It balances hormones that are related to metabolism, fatigue, and alertness. 

In some cases, doctors check the levels of vitamin B5 in their patients, especially those who experience chronic stress. Being deficient in vitamin B5 makes us more prone to developing adrenal fatigue, which limits our ability to effectively react to stress. Symptoms may include mood swings, insomnia, weight gain or loss, and other stress symptoms. 

4. Promotes cardiovascular health

Pantethine, a derivative of pantothenic acid, has been studied for its ability to promote heart health, particularly cholesterol. The body needs pantothenic acid or vitamin B5 for cholesterol synthesis. 

Vitamin B5 plays a significant role when it comes to the regulation and use of cholesterol. It helps maintain optimal cholesterol levels in the arteries and prevents the buildup of plaque, which can possibly lead to a stroke or heart attack

This B vitamin also helps produce red blood cells (RBCs), which are cells that carry oxygen all over the body. It also enhances hemoglobin levels in the body. Another B vitamin called vitamin B2 helps in the prevention and treatment of anemia. Vitamin B2 also helps mobilize iron in the blood and is required in the synthesis of steroid hormones. Vitamin B5 helps by allowing vitamin B2 to do its important functions. 

People with high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in their serum have an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease. According to some studies, vitamin B5 may help lower the levels of LDL cholesterol, including triglycerides, in people who have high blood fats. It can also help increase the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol at the same time.

5. Boosts the immune system

Antibodies are produced by the immune system to protect the body from harmful threats. Vitamin B5 helps in the production of these antibodies. According to studies, vitamin B5 can help prevent the growth and proliferation of harmful bacteria and deadly parasites that cause malaria.

To prevent disease and remain healthy, our bodies should produce enough antibodies. However, chronic stress can limit our ability to fight off toxins and infections because of low energy levels in the body and concentrating more on the things that are seen as immediate threats. Since B vitamins help regulate the body’s response to stress, they help keep the body’s immunity stronger, so people could have a reduced risk of becoming ill.

References

Pantothenic Acid: An Overview Focused on Medical Aspects (July 2015) https://eujournal.org/index.php/esj/article/download/5978/5761

Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline (1998) https://www.nap.edu/read/6015/chapter/12#363

Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) supplement review (n.d.) clevelandclinicwellness.com/Features/Pages/VitaminB5.aspx

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015, April 1). Pantothenic Acid (Oral Route)
mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/pantothenic-acid-oral-route/description/drg-20065349

Kim, Hyesook et al. Association between intake of B vitamins and cognitive function in elderly Koreans with cognitive impairment. Nutrition journal vol. 13,1 118. 17 Dec. 2014, doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-118

Evans, M., et. al. Pantethine, a derivative of vitamin B5, favorably alters total, LDL and non-HDL cholesterol in low to moderate cardiovascular risk subjects eligible for statin therapy: a triple-blinded placebo and diet-controlled investigation. Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2014; 10: 89–100. doi:  [10.2147/VHRM.S57116]

Saliba, K.J., et. al. Provitamin B5 (Pantothenol) Inhibits Growth of the Intraerythrocytic Malaria ParasiteAntimicrob Agents Chemother. 2005 Feb; 49(2): 632–637. doi:  [10.1128/AAC.49.2.632-637.2005] 

Key Takeaways

  • Vitamin B5 is also known as pantothenic acid. 
  • This B vitamin plays a role in the synthesis of carbohydrates, hormones, and fat from the foods we consume and turn them into energy for the body to use. 
  • To ensure that you are getting enough vitamin B5, you have to regularly consume a healthy, balanced diet.