Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, is an essential vitamin that our body needs for nutrient metabolism, energy production, and other cellular processes. As a water-soluble vitamin, pantothenic acid is stored in the body in very small amounts. Pantothenic acid exists in different forms, including in its free form (by itself) or in its active form, bound to other molecules. Pantothenic acid can be converted into its active form in the body, so it doesn’t matter which form we eat. Nonetheless, we must consume pantothenic acid in some form, as our bodies cannot produce this vitamin from scratch.
Pantothenic acid is required for the synthesis of coenzyme A (CoA), a molecule that supports the activity of many different enzymes. CoA participates in hundreds of reactions throughout the body.1For example, CoA is involved in the citric acid cycle, a process in which energy is generated from carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Additionally, CoA helps the body produce cholesterol, which is used to form hormones.2 CoA is also involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that transmit signals throughout the brain.2
Pantothenic acid is also required by acyl carrier protein (ACP), a protein that helps our bodies produce fatty acids. Specifically, ACP is a component of the fatty acid synthase, a complex that catalyzes the production of fatty acids. These fatty acids are used to make energy, maintain cell membranes, and support cell growth and development, among other functions.3
As an essential component of both CoA and ACP, pantothenic acid plays an important role in all of these metabolic processes.
Pantothenic acid is found in a wide variety of foods. In fact, its name originates from the Greek word pantos, which means “everywhere.” Pantothenic acid is present in virtually any type of food, including dairy, meat, poultry, eggs, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Pantothenic acid may also be taken as a dietary supplement, either by itself or as part of a multivitamin or B-complex supplement.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for pantothenic acid (i.e. the amount that is likely to meet the needs of most healthy people) is 5 mg per day for male and female adults (aged 19 years and up).3 For women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, the RDA increases to 6 mg per day and 7 mg per day, respectively.4
Since pantothenic acid is found in so many different foods, being deficient in this vitamin is uncommon. Pantothenic acid deficiency is typically only seen in severe cases of malnutrition.5 When pantothenic acid deficiency does occur, it is usually in conjunction with other nutrient deficiencies.1
Symptoms of pantothenic acid deficiency include fatigue, changes in mood, stomach cramping, and nausea.5 Pantothenic acid deficiency can also cause a condition called burning feet syndrome. This condition is characterized by a burning sensation in the feet, with the potential to spread to the hands.6
Pantothenic acid is safe, even when consumed in large amounts. While extremely high doses may cause side effects like stomach pain and diarrhea, there have been no reports of pantothenic acid toxicity. Thus, there is currently no Tolerable Upper Intake Level (i.e., a maximum amount of a nutrient that is considered safe) established for pantothenic acid.4
There is some evidence that pantothenic acid may be beneficial for the skin, although the mechanisms behind these benefits are not well understood. For example, pantothenic acid may promote moisture retention and help heal wounds or scars.7 Because of this, pantothenol, an alcohol form of pantothenic acid, is often added to topical skincare products.
Pantothenic acid can be destroyed by heat, so significant amounts may be lost through cooking or processing. In fact, up to 75% of the pantothenic acid in food may be lost through cooking.8
You can use a dietary supplement of Pantothenic Acid (B5) if you think your diet lacks this nutrient.
Use the list below to check if your diet has enough Pantothenic Acid (B5) intake.
This list shows food that are top sources of Pantothenic Acid (B5) and the quantity of Pantothenic Acid (B5) in 100g of food