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Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is one of the 8 essential B vitamins that you need in your diet. Find out what it is and its many benefits in this guide.
Vitamin B5 is one of the eight B vitamins that are essential for the proper functioning of your body’s cells. It’s also known as pantothenic acid which comes from the Greek word ‘Pantou’, meaning ‘everywhere’, due to the fact the majority of foods contain at least a small quantity of it.
Keep reading to find out what pantothenic acid is and its many different roles, which foods are rich in it and the signs of a vitamin B5 deficiency.
Vitamin B5 is a water-soluble vitamin that’s necessary for making red blood cells and helps to convert food into energy by breaking down fats and carbohydrates. On top of this it also creates coenzyme A (CoA) which assists with producing and degrading fatty acids, synthesises cholesterol, produces sex and stress hormones, aids with maintaining a healthy digestive system and helps the body use other vitamins such as B2.
As with the other B vitamins, vitamin B5 also plays a role in the healthy functioning of the nervous system, skin, hair, eyes and liver.
The current recommended daily amount for adult men and women is 5mg, but this increases to 6mg for pregnant women and 7mg for those that are lactating.
As mentioned previously, vitamin B5 is present in most foods, but it does tend to be most potent in fresh vegetables, meats and whole, unprocessed grains, whereas processed and canned foods will have less of the vitamin. The following foods are all great sources of vitamin B5:
• White potatoes
• Sweet potatoes
• Whole-grain cereals
Deficiencies of vitamin B5 are very rare and are usually only seen in malnourished people where other deficiencies will likely be present too, so it’s hard to identify which symptoms are specific to a lack of vitamin B5. However, from studies of diets lacking in pantothenic acid where no pantothenic acid was consumed or whilst taking a pantothenic acid metabolic antagonist, the following symptoms were seen:
• Disturbed sleep
• Numbness or burning sensation in hands and/or feet
• Gastrointestinal issues
Aside from its role of helping to ensure the proper functioning of your body’s cells, there’s been numerous studies on its ability to help with cosmetic issues and health conditions. Currently vitamin B5 may be effective with treating or preventing the following:
You may not know this but vitamin B5 is often added to hair and skin products but it’s listed as ‘dexpanthenol’, which is a chemical that’s made from B5. You’ll often find it in creams and lotions to moisturise the skin and hair products to add volume and shine. There’s even been studies on vitamin B5 and its ability to stop hair thinning, but it was concluded that it can’t actually make hair grow back.
Dexpanthenol is also sometimes used for skin to relieve itching and aid with healing from skin conditions such as eczema, insect bites, poison ivy and rashes. Additionally, it’s used for preventing and treating skin reactions from radiation therapy.
Where your body needs vitamin B5 to metabolise cholesterol, it may also help to lower cholesterol and levels of triglycerides (fats found in the blood). In a study carried out in 2014, individuals with higher levels of LDL cholesterol were given 300mg of vitamin B5 each day for 16 weeks and it was found that their levels dropped significantly. The same study also concluded that the vitamin may also help to lower the risk of coronary heart disease.
Some researchers have found that those with rheumatoid arthritis have lower levels of vitamin B5, so in theory, increasing the levels of this essential vitamin may help sufferers of the condition. However, more research is needed in this field to analyse the impact of vitamin B5 and rheumatoid arthritis.
It’s important to note that there’s still research being carried out on vitamin B5 and its ability to help with certain health conditions. If you have any concerns about your health, always consult your doctor first.
Now you know what pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is! Want to find out about some more amazing B vitamins and what they do? Read our guide on what is vitamin B2, next.