Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 is also known as pantothenic acid and as pantothenate. It is one of the group of B vitamins.

See also an overview of the main vitamins.

Active Form of Vitamin B5:

The active form of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is a component of coenzyme A.

Functions of Vitamin B5:

The main functions of vitamin B5 are:

  • Conversion of food into energy; other B Vitamins are also necessary and involved in the chemical processes by which energy is released from foods.
  • As coenzyme A (CoA) vitamin B5 has an important role in the transfer of -acyl groups during certain chemical reactions that occur in the body - this information is useful to people who also need to understand the chemical reactions within the body, i.e. specific details about metabolism. CoA is important for many biochemical reactions within the body, e.g.
    • in energy metabolism
    • for biosynthesis of many important compounds such as such as fatty acids, cholesterol, the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (mentioned below), and acyl carrier protein (ACP) which is also needed for the production of fatty acids.
  • Healthy functioning of the nervous system - vitamin B5 helps to convert choline into the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which acts as a "chemical messenger" carrying electrical signals needed for various functions including memory and muscle control.
  • Maintains healthy skin and hair by stimulating cell growth.
  • Immune function - vitamin B5 helps the body to produce antibodies that are important because they help to body to fight infections.
  • Stress management - it has been suggested that vitamin B5 may help to control "stress levels" by helping to produce certain hormones and by regulating the actions of the adrenal glands.

Pantothenic acid is an ingredient in some hair and skin care products.

Sources of Vitamin B5:

There are many different types of foods that include some vitamin B5.

Examples of sources of vitamin B5 follow below:

  • Brewer's yeast
  • Whole grains, e.g. whole-grain cereals and wholemeal bread (wholemeal bread being less rich in vitamin B5 than wholegrain cereals due to depletion of vitamin B5 due to processing incl. baking)
  • Foods fortified with vitamin B5, which includes some breakfast cereals
  • Lean meat, incl. e.g. liver and kidney
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Royal Jelly - a honey bee secretion that is acceptable to most vegetarians but not to vegans.
  • Avocado
  • Nuts
  • Legumes, e.g. some types of peas, beans, lentils etc.

Food processing (including preparing and preserving e.g. freezing and canning) and high temperatures (e.g. due to cooking) can destroy vitamin B5. Vitamin B5 can also be destroyed by certain anti-nutrients such as alcohol, caffeine, cigarette smoking, and certain pharmaceutical products (including some prescribed drugs).

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is often included in multivitamin tablets and/or as part of Vitamin B-complex supplements. As with all supplements and medications, exceeding the stated dose is not recommended and may even be dangerous.

Problems due to insufficient or too much Vitamin B5:

Signs of Deficiencies of Vitamin B5

Signs of Excessive Intake of Vitamin B5

Severe deficiency of vitamin B5 is rare but may lead to 'burning foot syndrome' (also known as Grierson-Gopalan syndrome), a condition involving burning and aching sensations in the feet, increased sensitivity in the feet, changes to blood vessels in the feet, and that can lead to excessive sweating. It can also affect the eyes, leading to scotoma and amblyopia.

At lower levels of severity, various vitamin B5 deficiency symptoms are listed in textbooks and online. They include the following, many of which are also listed as possible signs of deficiency of other nutrients, so are not specific indications of deficiency of vitamin B5:

  • Tiredness / Fatigue / Poor concentration
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps

Vitamin B5 is not generally considered toxic if consumed in excessive quantities.

However, very high doses of vitamin B5, especially in addition to intake within a well balanced diet, are not recommended without expert guidance. Upset stomach, mild intestinal distress, and possibly diarrhea have been mentioned by some sources e.g. books, as associated with intake of massive doses of vitamin B5.

See also what is a balanced diet?.

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This is not medical, First Aid or other advice and is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment. Consult an expert in person. Care has been taken when compiling this page but accuracy cannot be guaranteed. This material is copyright.

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