Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, is an important water-soluble and fat-free nutrient cells.
It must be obtained from dietary sources or dietary supplements. Almost all food sources contain some pantothenic acid, so vitamin B5 deficiencies are very rare.
Like all Group B Complex Vitamins , Pantothenic acid is best known for its role in the conversion of food into energy. It also plays other important roles in the body in the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system.
This vitamin is needed for red blood cell biosynthesis, stress and sex hormone production, blood lipid balance, and healthy organs, including the liver, skin, eyes and hair. [ 1 ]
How Does Vitamin B5 Work In The Human Body?
The Natural Medicine Database (NMCD) indicates that vitamin B5 is required for the intermediate metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrates.
Pantothenic acid is a precursor of a molecule called coenzyme-A (CoA), which is involved in many biochemical reactions. Specifically, coenzyme-A is required:
- Acetylation steps in glucogenesis (production of glucose)
- To facilitate healthy epithelial tissue function
- For the production and degradation of fatty acids
- Carbohydrate energy released
Coenzyme-A is also involved in the biosynthesis of various steroid hormones, porphyrins, sterols and other compounds. 
According to Dr. Michael Lam, when pantothenic acid enters the human body, forms another chemical called pantethin. He says pantetin is a more stable, double-linked (disulfide) form of vitamin B5. This is the form the body uses to produce coenzyme-A. 
Dr. Lam says that coenzyme-A is a cofactor for at least seventy different enzymes. He notes other roles for coenzyme A, including pyruvate degradation, amino acid catabolism, heme synthesis, and the initial stages of cholesterol synthesis.
This coenzyme is also required “for the formation of all subsequent cholesterol metabolites, including steroids, vitamin D and bile acids.” 
Vitamin B5 is also required for the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which plays a role in memory and brain function. B5 deficiency can lead to improper acetylcholine production. [ 2 ]
According to Dr. Peter Osborne, Pantothenic acid is also crucial in promoting a healthy stress response. It is said to be used to stimulate adrenal cortisol secretion; one of the most important factors associated with adaptive stress responses. [ 2 ]
Dr Osborne says chronically low levels can lead to inability to cope with stress in everyday life. He says people who lack B5 may feel overwhelmed with problems that seemed minor to them.
Dr. Osborne also says that vitamin B5 helps fight inflammation and allergies through adrenal stimulation and cortisol release. He says the immune system also uses important antibodies, such as immunoglobulin G (IgG), IgA and IgE. [ 2 ]
Taking Pantothenic Acid Supplements
People take vitamin B5 supplements for various purposes. NMCD states that some of the reasons for supplementing this vitamin with your diet are:
- Notable Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Boost your immune function
- Improving Athleticism
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Physical and mental stress
- Skin Disorders
Vitamin B5 is also used as a cream or ointment for itching, eczema, insect bites, diaper rashes and acne.
Vitamin B5 is a FDA dietary supplement and has not been approved as a drug to treat any condition.
If you are interested in pantothenic acid for a particular medical condition, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor to see if this is right for you.
Pantothenic Acid Deficiency
Because almost all foods contain small amounts of pantothenic acid, people usually get enough of this nutrient from the food they eat. B5 deficiency in the diet is usually only noticeable with malnutrition.
According to Dr. Osborne, vitamin B5 deficiency is usually caused by chronic stress, not by nutrition.
He says that Pantothenic acid deficiency can cause us to lose the ability to respond properly and effectively to stress. Becoming stress-tolerant can cause not only an inadequate response to mental stress but also a resistance to illness. [ 2 ]
Dr. Osborne says vitamin B5 deficiency can cause stress intolerance and subsequently lead to inability to exercise. He says it’s related to depression in some people.
According to dr. Osborne, those with low levels of pantothenic acid, are not only at increased risk of infections and diseases, but less able to fight disease.
He says those who are not exercising have a higher risk of developing illness, including respiratory, urinary and various chronic viral infections.
UMM says Vitamin B5 deficiency is rare but may present with a variety of symptoms. Some of these include depression, insomnia, fatigue, abdominal pain and vomiting. [ 1 ]
NMCD reports other possible symptoms of Pantothenic acid deficiency, including upper respiratory tract infections, drowsiness, muscle weakness, cardiovascular instability, and changes in mood balance. 
The NMCD says vitamin B5 deficiency can also cause peripheral neuropathy (peripheral nerve disorder or disease). One of the symptoms associated with this phenomenon is called paraesthesia with tingling, numbness, pins and needles.
Best Vitamin B5 Food Sources
According to UMM, some of the best foods for vitamin B5 consumption are brewer’s yeast, egg yolks and organ meats, especially the liver and kidneys.
Additional healthy food sources include legumes, lentils, beans, sprouts, sweet potatoes and cereal breads. You can also increase your intake of lobster, duck, avocado, sunflower, salmon, crustaceans and mushrooms to get more vitamin B5.
Green vegetables provide great sources of Pantothenic acid as well as various other nutrients. Consider increasing your diet with spinach, pumpkin, dandelion, beet leaves.
Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage are also very good sources.
Processing and cooking can reduce the amount of vitamin B5 and other nutrients in foods. According to dr. Andrew Weil, advised to obtain essential nutrients from raw, organic, non-GMO vegetables and fruits whenever possible. 
If you eat animal products, consider organic, grass-fed and dairy products.
Vitamin B5 Supplements
A comprehensive database of natural medicines claims that there are over 7,800 vitamin B5 supplements. This vitamin is usually found as a single multivitamin ingredient or as a group B vitamin supplement .
Pantothenic acid supplements are available in the form of tablets, capsules, soft and bulk powders. Pantothenic acid is also used for eye drops, creams and nasal sprays. Usually the ingredient is listed on the label as pantothenic acid or calcium pantothenate.
As the only ingredient, most preparations contain 500 mg of pantothenic acid. When included in B-complex multivitamins, the amounts are usually much lower, typically about 5.5 mg per dose, up to a 100 mg dose.
Balancing the intake of all B-complex vitamins is usually recommended. Increasing intake of one or more B vitamins without increasing others can lead to health problems or metabolic imbalances.
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, it is generally recommended to take a group B complex multivitamin , rather than just increasing the intake of one vitamin B complex.
Vitamin B5 Dosing Guidelines
Unlike some other vitamins, there is no RPN * (recommended daily allowance) or UL (upper tolerated concentration) for pantothenic acid. Instead, a sufficient amount (AI) was set.
UMM reports that a typical recommendation is 5mg daily from food sources. This is an acceptable guideline, but much higher levels are considered safe.
MedLinePlus announces the following general guidelines for the intake of Pantothenic acid from foods:
- 1.7 mg daily for infants 0 to 6 months
- 1.8 mg daily for infants 7 months to 12 months
- 2 mg daily for children 1 to 3 years old
- Kids ages 4-8
- Kids 9 to 13
- 5 mg / day for women and men 14 years and older
Generally, pregnant women are advised to breast-feed at 6 mg / day and 7 mg / day.
The doses of vitamin B5 taken as a single dietary supplement are usually much higher than the AI values.
These higher doses are not considered unsafe for a short period of time. In studies, doses up to 10 g / day were used, with no significant adverse effects observed. [ 4 ]
A dose of 2000 mg was used for arthritis. [ 4 ] In one study, doses started at 500 mg / day and slowly increased to 500 mg, 4 times a day.
In one study of constipation, the dose was 400 mg for five days. Other studies have used lower doses, including one study of hair growth in women given 100 mg daily for 4-5 months.
It is recommended that you talk to your doctor to determine the best dose for you.
Vitamin B5 Side Effects
The NMCD considers vitamin B5 supplements to be potentially safe when taken orally and properly.
Use in pregnant or breast-feeding women is considered safe if you take the appropriate amounts.
In healthy adults, they are not considered to be significant side effects caused by too much vitamin B5 from dietary supplements. Using this product in standard amounts is not expected to cause toxicity.
The only side effects are rare: mild bowel disorder and diarrhea. It was only observed at very high daily doses of 10 to 20 grams.
The NMCD says that after eating a meal, Pantothenic acid should be taken with water for optimal absorption.
Vitamin B5 in the form of dexpanthenol has been associated with itching, burning, contact dermatitis, eczema and skin irritation in some people.
Vitamin B5 Interaction with Drugs and Contraindications
If you have been diagnosed with a serious medical condition or are taking any prescription medication, consult your doctor before taking vitamin B5 for any purpose.
The use of tetracycline antibiotics is thought to reduce the production of vitamin B5 from the intestinal microflora. However, it is unknown whether it is a significant source of vitamin A for humans and supplementation after antibiotics is not considered necessary.
Vitamin B5 may reverse the effects and / or side effects of some drugs, including cholinesterase inhibitors and blood thinners.
To check your vitamin B status, Dr. Osborne says she’s going to see a doctor for a lymphocyte proliferation assessment test. He says this is much more accurate than a general blood test.
Vitamin B5 is a nutrient that is essential for all life forms. Talk to your doctor about how he or she can benefit you.
- University of Maryland Medical Center. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid). Accessed Dec. 20, 2016.
- Dr. Peter Osborne. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid). Accessed Dec. 20, 2016.
- Aprahamian M, Dentinger A, Stock-Damge C, Kouassi JC, Grenier JF. Effects of supplemental pantothenic acid on wound healing: experimental study in rabbit. Am J Clin Nutr. 1985.
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) Monograph. Accessed Dec. 20, 2016.
- Lam, M. About Vitamin B5: A Guide to Usage and Dosage. Accessed Dec. 20, 2016.
- LINUS PAULING INSTITUTE. Micronutrient Information Center. Pantothenic Acid. Accessed Dec. 20, 2016.
- Mayo Clinic. Peripheral neuropathy. Symptoms and causes. Accessed Dec. 20, 2016.
- Weil. Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin B5. Accessed Dec. 20, 2016.
- MedLinePlus. Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5). Accessed Dec. 20, 2016.