Vitamin b5, the Protective Nutrient You Don't Hear About
Pantothenic acid is vitamin B5. Even though this water soluble vitamin is not only plentiful in foods, but it is also synthesized in the body by intestinal bacteria, there are reasons why you may want to consider adding more to your diet through supplementation.
Like some of the other B vitamins, pantothenic acid plays a key role in cellular metabolism, helping release energy from proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Pantothenic acid also helps the body utilize riboflavin, vitamin B2. The vitamin can be found in three forms, calcium pantothenate, the provitamin panthenol, and pantothenic acid.
A provitamin is a substance that can be converted into a vitamin in animals or humans. In nutrition, there are six primary provitamins: panthenol, a precursor of vitamin B5, pantothenic acid; carotene and cryptoxanthin, two precursors of vitamin A; ergosterol, a precursor of vitamin D2; 7-dehydrocholesterol, a precursor of vitamin D3, and tocopheryl acetate, a precursor of vitamin E.
Stressed Out? Pantothenic Acid Will Help
Pantothenic acid has a clear function in stimulating the adrenal glands and increasing the production of adrenal hormones such as cortisone. Here's a secret nutritionist's trick: If you are stressed out and reacting to situations, taking things personally, adding a supplement of 500 mg pantothenic acid per day can make a big difference within 24 to 48 hours in most cases. This dosage can be continued for several weeks without worry of toxicity. Many of my patients over the years have created peace and harmony in their family members by having all take this amount.
Vitamin B5 can improve the ability to withstand stress. It also prevents toxicity from antibioitics. Pantothenic acid also prevents against radiation damage, premature aging and wrinkles.
Other Functions of This Protective Nutrient
One important metabolic intermediate, acetyl coenzyme A, contains pantothenic acid. The vitamin actually helps synthesize the acetyl coenzyme A which transfers carbon atoms within a cell. Acetyl CoA is important for the production of energy from the breakdown of sugar. The vitamin is also essential for cholesterol, acetylcholine, fats and steroid synthesis. The brain stores high amounts of pantothenic acid. Pantothenic acid can protect nerve degeneration in those with epilepsy, peripheral neuritis and nerve disorders.
The vitamin is also important for healthy skin and nerves. It protects the cells of the intestine and can decrease intestinal gas production with abdominal distention in patients after surgery.
It also prevents arthritis. Pantothenic acid is thought to be the greatest defense against fatigue and stress.
Can You Get Enough Pantothenic Acid in Food?
Pantothenic acid is found in high amounts in organ meats, Brewer's yeast, egg yolks, legumes, and whole-grain cereals. Royal jelly also has high levels. Alfalfa, molasses, wheat bran, rice and peanut meal are also good sources. However, the high amounts in food can never approach that found in a 50 mg or 500 mg tablet.
How Much Vitamin B5 Is Enough?
Surprisingly, the National Research Council used to recommend only 5 to 6 mg vitamin B5 per day for adults but now there is no daily requirement.
Supplements of 500 mg to 1200 mg per day of pantothine may increase HDL-cholesterol, and decrease triglycerides, total serum cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol. Up to 2000 mg per day can reduce joint stiffness, disability and pain in those with rheumatoid arthritis. As you will recall from earlier, 500 mg per day is enough to calm down any family from extreme stress. It's enough to also build up the body in winter prior to allergy season in the springtime. Many people have reported that they have less symptoms related to pollen allergies when they load up on this water soluble vitamin.
It's also possible that pantothenic acid can reduce the accumulation of lactic acid in athletes after they work out.
High doses may help resolve acne and decrease pore size but may stimulate dreams, so do not take it right before bedtime.
Pantothenic Acid Deficiency Symptoms
Deficiency is rare. Low levels slow down the metabolic processes. Vitamin B5 deficiency symptoms include abdominal pains, vomiting, restlessness, burning feet, upper respiratory infections, allergies, decreased antibody production, muscle cramps, and sensitivity to insulin. Insomnia, depression and fatigue can be additional deficiency symptoms.
Pantothenic Acid Toxicity
No toxicity is known. Even those suffering from severe illness, on antibiotic therapy and those suffering from severe injuries do not experience toxic side effects. Amounts up to 2000 mg per day are common.
1. Dunne, Lavon. Nutrition Almanac, McGraw-Hill Publishing, 2002.
2. Personal research, author, 1996-2006.