What is Vitamin B5? Complete Analysis of Vitamin B5

What is Vitamin B5?

Vitamin B5 is a water-soluble, viscous, and yellow colored vitamin that was identified in 1933. The scientific name of this vitamin is Pantothenic acid. Its scientific name is derived from the Greek word “pantothen”, which means “from everywhere” in English. It was named so because it is widely found in food items. It is quickly absorbed and excreted unchanged in the urine with little storage.

  • Daily Intake Recommendations

There is an estimate of safe and adequate levels for daily intake of vitamin B5 in healthy population groups, ranging from 2 to 12 mg per day.

1–3 years old 2 mg/d
4–8 years old 3 mg/d
9–13 years old 4 mg/d
14 years old and over 5 mg/d
Pregnancy 6 mg/d
Lactation 7 mg/d
Dosing The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) established by the Institute of Medicine for pantothenic acid


The estimated daily intakes of vitamin B5 in most people meet the recommendations and thus as such, there are no reported cases of vitamin B5 deficiency.

Vitamin B5 derivatives added to foods and beverages, used in dietary supplements, are generally of synthetic origin (i.e. made by chemical synthesis and not derived from natural sources).

D-pantothenic acid is relatively unstable as it can be destroyed by the action of heat, acid and alkaline changes. Instead of pantothenic acid, it’s the more stable form calcium pantothenate is used in dietary supplements.

Calcium pantothenate is crystalline, water-soluble and white in color (pantothenic acid is yellow colored). Calcium pantothenate is included in B complex and multivitamin preparations.

Ten mg of calcium pantothenate is approximately equivalent to 9.2 mg of pure D-pantothenic acid.

Alcohol pro-vitamin of vitamin B5 which are dexpanthenol, D-pantothenyl alcohol, D-panthenol, or panthenol (i.e. they convert into pantothenic acid in the body), are used topically or in injection form for cosmetic purposes or wound healing. Intravenous Calcium pantothenate has been tried in paralytic ileus.

What does it do for the body?

The dietary intake of pantothenic acid is necessary as it contributes to:

  • mental performance
  • normal synthesis and metabolism of steroid hormones, vitamin D and some neurotransmitters
  • The reduction of tiredness and fatigue.
  • Disease Risk Reduction
  • normal energy-yielding metabolism
  • Wound healing, especially after surgery
  • High cholesterol and triglycerides reduction in the blood of people with elevated blood lipids
  • Inflammatory conditions/diseases in which it might help to reduce symptoms of inflammatory conditions such as diabetic ulceration, rheumatoid arthritis, and acne.

Daily intake of pantothenic acid is important as it is incorporated into coenzyme A (CoA). Coenzyme A is vital in all aspects of metabolism. Some of the functions of CoA are:

  • break down of bio-molecules such as fats, carbohydrates, and proteins from food for energy generation
  • involved in the production of cholesterol and bile salts
  • synthesis of cell membranes and proteins
  • formation of red blood cells and platelets
  • synthesis of sex hormones (estrogens, testosterone, etc)
  • Synthesis of stress-related hormones (adrenaline, norepinephrine).

Vitamin B5 is good for overall neural health, physical and mental well being and skin.

What does it do for the skin?

Vitamin B provides a natural glow to the skin. Along with vitamin C, it is vital for a youthful look.

  1. Act as humectants thereby retaining the required moisture on the skin and preventing dehydration
  2. Anti-aging  substance as it promotes cell formation on the topmost layer of skin
  3. it reduces stress and promotes hair growth.

Recent experiments of pantothenic acid oral administration and topical application of pantothenol ointment to the skin have shown to enhance the rate of closure of skin wounds and increase the strength of scar tissue.

What are good sources of vitamin B5?

As vitamin B5 is not synthesized in the body of humans, it has to be taken via dietary sources. It is present in almost every natural thing we eat. Foods that are rich sources of pantothenic acid are:

  • Dry fruits and nuts e.g. almonds (2-3 mg/100 g),
  • yeast
  • organ meats (liver (5-7 mg/100 g), kidney (4-6 mg/100 g), heart, brain)
  • eggs yolk
  • Milk and milk products e.g. cheese (1-4 mg/100 g), curd
  • Almost all vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Wholegrain cereals e.g. wheat bran (contains 2-5 mg/100 g), maize.
  • seafood e.g. Lobster (1.5 mg/100 g), prawns

100g Peanut butter contains 5-8 mg of vitamin B5 while peanuts have 2-3 mg of vitamin B5 per 100 g.

Processing food by refining, freezing, canning, and cooking will cause losses of pantothenic acid. Thus a processed food diet would be expected to have lower amounts of vitamin B5 than a whole foods diet.

What are the symptoms of its deficiency?

Since vitamin B5 is present in all foods, a deficiency is extremely rare. Vitamin B5 deficiency occurs along with deficiencies of other B vitamins.

Alcoholics and smokers, women on birth control pills, people with insufficient food intake (e.g., elderly, post-operative), malnourished and people with impaired absorption (due to certain intrinsic diseases).

Following are symptoms of a vitamin B5 deficiency:

  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy and tiredness
  • Insomnia
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • stomach pains
  • burning feet sensation
  • Muscular  cramps
  • burning, itching or tingling in the skin

Side Effects and Toxicity Data

Vitamin B5 is considered very safe at recommended doses. The most commonly reported side effect at very high doses is nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, and mild transient gastrointestinal disturbances.

Adverse effects do not occur until daily doses exceed 1 gram daily since it is water soluble and excreted daily in the urine.

These are no demonstrated risk to the embryo in the first trimester of pregnancy for doses at or below the recommended level. Potential benefits overweigh the use of the drug in pregnant women despite potential risks.

Vitamin B5 deficiency

Normally deficiency of pantothenic acid does not appear and Clinical deficiency of pantothenic acid is not known. This is because:

  • pantothenic acid is widely found in a variety of foods in sufficient amounts to prevent any deficiency
  • the daily required dose of vitamin B5 is low which is fulfilled by dietary sources
  • A deficiency of other vitamins is limiting factors in persons eating nutritionally poor diets (i.e., before the pantothenic acid deficiency is evident signs and symptoms of other nutrient deficiencies appear).

What happens when you have too little vitamin B5 i.e. complications

Following are the conditions which may be a result of vitamin B5 deficiency:

  • Stress
  • Impact on adrenal function
  • Wound Healing
  • Insomnia
  • Intermittent diarrhea (stopping and starting at intervals)
  • Flatulence
  • Vomiting
  • Leg cramps
  • Paresthesias (burning, itching or tingling in the skin)
  • Alopecia
  • Hepatitis A
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Lupus Erythematosus (autoimmune disorder to tissue inflammation)
  • Obesity
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

Hence we see that Vitamin B5 is an essential water-soluble vitamin which plays a critical role in our body’s daily functions. Its deficiency causes autoimmune diseases such as Lupus and osteoarthritis. Hence, it is advisable to get your diet analyzed by a dietitian and one must invest in a balanced diet plan.

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