Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid or pantothenate, is a water-soluble vitamin.

Functions of Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 plays a pivotal role in the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates and proteins for providing energy to the cells. It is also required for the production of red blood cells, steroids, neurotransmitters and stress related hormones. It helps in maintaining a healthy digestive tract and also assists the body in making an optimal use of vitamin B2.

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In order to synthesize cholesterol, the body makes use of pantothenic acid and thus this vitamin finds its use even in the production of cholesterol. In this regard, several studies have been carried out to see whether pantethine (a derivative of pantothenic acid) can be used for lowering blood cholesterol levels in the body.

Pantothenic acid is lost during the process of cooking, canning, roasting and milling. It is also sensitive to vinegar, baking soda and other forms of alkali.

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Food Sources of Vitamin B5

The word ‘pantothenic’ is derived from the Greek word pantos, meaning everywhere. This implies that Vitamin B5 is found in a variety of food sources. The prominent ones are as follows:

  • animal meats
  • whole grains
  • milk and milk products
  • vegetables such as broccoli, avocados, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and kale
  • peanuts
  • soyabeans
  • wheat germ
  • legumes
  • cereals
  • split peas
  • sunflower seeds
  • lentils
  • egg yolk
  • organ meats, beef, salmon, chicken, duck, lobster and turkey

It needs to be understood here that most of vitamin B5 is lost during processing. Hence, whole unprocessed food grains, fresh vegetables and meats have more quantities of this vitamin than frozen and canned food products.

Symptoms of Vitamin B5 Deficiency

The deficiency symptoms of Vitamin B5 are similar to other B vitamin deficiencies. The symptoms include:

  • decreased levels of energy, which in turn leads to irritability, depression, apathy and undue fatigue
  • neurological disturbances such as paresthesia (burning feet syndrome), muscle cramps, tingling sensation in the hands, cardiac distress and numbness
  • hypoglycemia
  • decreased serum potassium levels
  • restlessness
  • upper respiratory tract infections
  • malaise
  • sleep apnea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal cramps
  • decreased immunity, which makes the host body susceptible to frequent infections

Deficiency symptoms not treated in time can lead to debilitating conditions such as hepatic encephalopathy and adrenal insufficiency.

Dosage of Vitamin B5 Supplements

The recommended daily allowance of vitamin B5 for infants, children and adults are given below:

Infants

  • 0 – 6 months: 1.7mg/day (reads as milligram per day)
  • 7 – 12 months: 1.8mg/day

Children

  • 1 – 3 years: 2mg/day
  • 4 – 8 years: 3mg/day
  • 9 – 13 years: 4mg/day

Adolescents and Adults

  • Men and women aged 14 years and above: 5mg/day.
  • For pregnant women: 6mg/day
  • For lactating women: 7mg/day

The dosage instructions mentioned above are to be taken daily through dietary sources. If the recommended requirements cannot be fulfilled through the diet then supplements can be taken, about 5 – 10mg /day. The dosage level for supplementation is a bit high as there is a difference in the bioavailability of the vitamin through diet and supplements.