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Pantothenic acid ~ vitamin B5

Published February 8th, 2010 in Minerals & Vitamins

Pantothenic acid ~ vitamin B5

Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) was discovered in 1933 and belongs to the group of water-soluble B vitamins. Its name originates from the Greek word “pantos”, meaning “everywhere”, as it can be found throughout all living cells.

Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) was discovered in 1933 and belongs to the group of water-soluble B vitamins. Its name originates from the Greek word “pantos”, meaning “everywhere”, as it can be found throughout all living cells.  Pantothenic acid, as a constituent of coenzyme A (a coenzyme of acetylation), plays a key role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and is important for the maintenance and repair of all cells and tissues.

Coenzyme A is involved in reactions that supply energy, in the synthesis of essential lipids (sphingolipids, phospholipids), sterols (cholesterol), hormones (growth, stress and sex hormones), neurotransmitters (acetylcholine), porphyrin (component of haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying red blood cell pigment), antibodies, in the metabolism of drugs (sulphonamides) and in alcohol detoxification. In the process of fat burning, pantothenic acid works in concert with coenyzme Q10 and L-carnitine.


  • Metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats
  • Supply of energy from foods
  • Synthesis of essential lipids, sterols, hormones, neurotransmitters, and porphyrin
  • Metabolism of drugs and alcohol detoxification


The active vitamin is present in virtually all plant, animal and microbial cells. Pantothenic acid is widely distributed in foods, mostly incorporated into coenzyme A. Its richest sources are yeast and organ meats (liver, kidney, heart, brain), but eggs, milk, vegetables, legumes and wholegrain cereals are more common sources.

Pantothenic acid is synthesized by intestinal micro-organisms, but the extent and significance of this synthesis is unknown due to increasing numbers of individuals with digestive impairment.


It is generally assumed dietary deficiency of this vitamin is extremely rare. However, pantothenic acid deficiency in humans is not well documented and probably does not occur in isolation but in conjunction with deficiencies of other B vitamins. Clinical manifestations that can be clearly ascribed to dietary deficiency of pantothenic acid have not been identified, although it has been implicated in “burning feet” syndrome, a condition observed among malnourished prisoners of war in the 1940s. Deficiency symptoms: include fatigue, headaches, insomnia, nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting and flatulence. The subjects complained of tingling sensations in the arms and legs, muscle cramps and impaired coordination. There was cardiovascular instability and impaired responses to insulin, histamine and ACTH (a stress hormone).

In experiments with mice it has been shown a deficiency of pantothenic acid leads to skin irritation and greying of the fur, which were reversed by giving vitamin B5. Pantothenic acid has since been added to shampoo, although it has never been successful in restoring hair color in humans.

At Risk

  • Alcoholics
  • Women on oral contraceptives
  • People with insufficient food intake (elderly, post-operative)
  • People with impaired absorption (crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, celiac, autism)

Used in the treatment of

  • Impaired adrenal gland function
  • Hypotension may occur as a result of Vitamin B5 deficiency
  • Enhance the production of Red Blood Cells
  • Alleviate Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Insufficient production of Hydrochloric Acid
  • Improve Hair Condition
  • Allergies
  • Prevent Bacterial & Viral Diseases
  • Lupus Erythematosus
  • Potent Antioxidant
  • Improve Athletic Performance
  • Lower total serum Cholesterol levels – Note that forms of Vitamin B5 other than Pantethine are not effective for the lowering of serum Cholesterol levels.
  • Alleviate Hepatitis A
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Facilitate weight loss in persons afflicted with obesity
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Reduce Joint Pain and Joint Stiffness
  • Autism
  • Depression
  • Counteract Stress

In general I recommend vitamin B5 to all my clients as there are few who do not benefit from it being in their B-complex supplement. It is not recommended that any B vitamin be used for more than 6 months without the addition of a B-complex formula.

When possible eat the whole foods that contain the nutrients you are seeking in addition to taking a supplement.

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