Vitamin B5 Facts: Everything You Need to Know

By Ashley Henshaw. May 7th 2016

Vitamin B5 is one of eight vitamins included in the B vitamins group. In most cases, vitamin B5 is referred to by the name pantothenic acid. Like many of the other B vitamins, B5 has several amazing health benefits and is easily found in common foods. Read on to find out more about the uses, side effects and sources of pantothenic acid, as well as how much of this vitamin is recommended for daily consumption.

What Does Vitamin B5 Do?

Vitamin B5 has several practical uses and health benefits. Most commonly, pantothenic acid is associated with metabolism, as it plays a role in helping your body break down the foods you eat. It's also a good source of energy, since the carbohydrates that are released as your body breaks down food can then be converted into energy. Like the other B vitamins, pantothenic acid is also useful for developing and maintaining healthy-looking skin and hair as well as keeping the eyes and liver functioning properly.

There are some key areas that cause pantothenic acid to stand out among the others in the B vitamins group. For instance, pantothenic acid is needed by the body in order to produce red blood cells. It also helps the body manufacture other important substances, like hormones related to sex that are found in the adrenal gland. In fact, it is very closely associated with alleviating stress because of its effect on the adrenal glands. The body must have a sufficient supply of vitamin B5 in order to be able to create enough of these substances for normal body function.

Additionally, pantothenic acid also helps to keeps the digestive tract healthy. Part of this is due to the fact that vitamin B5 can help the body synthesize cholesterol. Many studies suggest that vitamin B5 can help reduce triglyceride levels in the blood while also lowering LDL cholesterol and raising HDL cholesterol. This could potentially help people who suffer from high cholesterol and its many negative impacts, but more studies are needed before these effects can be directly linked to pantothenic acid.

Food Sources of Vitamin B5

Pantothenic acid can be found in many multivitamins and B complex vitamins, usually under the name pantothenic acid or calcium pantothenate. However, most people do not need to take a supplement specifically for pantothenic acid, because it is so readily available in common foods. Some of the primary food sources of vitamin B5 include eggs, milk, milk products, fish, legumes, lentils, yeast and whole-grain cereals. Vegetables like white and sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, cauliflower, avocados, broccoli and cabbage are also great sources of pantothenic acid. As far as meat goes, lean beef, turkey, duck and chicken can all be utilized as a good source of vitamin B5.

Side Effects

For the most part, vitamin B5 has little or no side effects other than helping your body to function normally. However, if you consume too much pantothenic acid, then it can potentially cause diarrhea and increase your risk of bleeding. This is usually only a risk for people who take dietary supplements for vitamin B5, not for those who get it naturally from food sources.

There are a few concerns when it comes to vitamin B5 having bad interactions with certain medications. For example, pantothenic acid may reduce the absorption and effectiveness of tetracycline, a common antibiotic. Also, some drugs used to treat Alzheimer's disease may have negative interactions with pantothenic acid. If you are taking either of these medications, then consult your physician about the proper dosage of vitamin B5 for you.

Deficiency Symptoms

Because vitamin B5 is so readily available in common foods, a deficiency of pantothenic acid is extremely rare. However, if a deficiency of vitamin B5 does occur, then it will often be accompanied by symptoms like depression, irritability, vomiting and fatigue. One of the more unusual symptoms associated with this deficiency is burning feet. Over longer periods of time, a pantothenic acid deficiency can lead to more serious conditions, usually an upper respiratory infection.

Daily Dosage Recommendations

The recommended dosage for pantothenic acid varies according to an individual's age. From birth to 6 months of age, the recommendation is 1.7 mg of vitamin B5 per day. From the age of 7 months to 12 months, that amount should increase to 1.8 mg a day. For children ages 1 to 3, 2 mg of pantothenic acid a day is recommended; from ages 4 to 8, about 3 mg per day; and from age 9 to 13, about 4 mg a day. From the age of 14 on, 5 mg is the recommended daily dosage.

Though these provide general guidelines for the majority of the population, there are certain situations where a person's daily intake may need to be altered from the standard daily dosage. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, then be sure to speak to your physician about what the ideal dosage of pantothenic acid is for you.

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