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Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

By Sasha de Beausset Aparicio, MSc

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Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 is also known as Pantothenic acid and is an essential nutrient with numerous functions played in the health of specific organs or systems of the body. The water-soluble vitamin is one of eight vitamin complex called the B-complex. This set of vitamins comprises essential nutrients and is known to influence growth and development of several bodily functions. Some of the most acclaimed roles of the B complex include areas such as metabolism, energy production, neurological function, and skin and hair health.

Each of the vitamins is more or less important for certain bodily functions, while together they may function to accomplish additional roles. Pantothenic acid is particularly important for the normal growth and development of tissue in general, while Folic Acid (or Vitamin B9) is essential to red blood cells production.

The vitamin was discovered in the 1930’s but it was in early 1940 that research revealed its complete set of roles and structure. The name “Pantothenic” means “from everywhere” in Greek because the vitamin is present in most human cells and in a large number of foods.

Vitamin B5 Functions & Benefits

The core benefits of Vitamin B5 are going to be detailed in the following paragraphs. Generally, the vitamin is most commonly mentioned as a key player in hormone production processes that regulate behavior and emotions, and in processes that offer immune system support, regulate, and enhance the metabolism function and help preserve the health of skin, nails, and hair.

The nutrient is sometimes called the “anti-stress” vitamin although no clear scientific evidence exists regarding its role in regulating stress. There is, however, evidence that the vitamin may be involved in the production of the anti-stress hormone called Cortisol and produced by the adrenal glands. In fact, most of the B complex vitamins stimulate the adrenal function and contribute to its normal functioning. A deficiency in Vitamin B5 may compromise the adrenal function and lower the level of Cortisol produced, hence causing stress-like symptoms (fatigue, irritability, muscle weakness, etc).

Vitamin B5 has also been linked to high levels of bad cholesterol and tryglicerides. Several double-blind studies indicate that the vitamin may lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. Large studies are, however, needed to completely understand the implications and potential side effects of using Pantethine, a form of Vitamin B5 which was involved in the aforementioned trials, to regulate cholesterol.

Several tests indicate that Vitamin B5 may speed up wound healing processes, particularly important for postsurgical therapies that require this process to be fastened. It appears that a combination of Ascorbic Acid (or Vitamin C) and Pantothenic acid works best to achieve these results. Further research is recommended.

In relation to rheumatoid arthritis, a serious chronic, inflammatory disorder, the nutrient has been found to have potential benefits. People suffering from this disease may, in fact, have lower levels of B5 and a connection of causality has been established between the two. Still, more studies are needed to confirm the conclusions mentioned above.

Vitamin B5 also helps you feel energized, by reducing symptoms such as fatigue or weariness. This is why the nutrient can be particularly helpful to athletes or physical exercise lover, who often find an increase in their stamina after using a B5 supplement. The nutrient is also important for hair pigmentation and prevents discoloration, while also preventing skin aging processes.


The daily recommended dosage of Vitamin B5 depends on the age and gender of the patient. Certain special cases include pregnant and lactating women. Ensuring proper Vitamin B5 levels is extremely important in preventing complications. Newborns up to 6 months old are advised to consume 1.7 mg of the nutrient, a dose which gradually increases to 5 mg per day for 15 + people. Lactating women may increase the dosage to 6 mg per day, while pregnant women may consume as much as 7 mg daily. Doses increase should, however, be done with the consent of a healthcare specialist.

A deficiency of this nutrient may have serious implications. Vitamin B5, as all B-complex vitamin is water soluble, meaning excess amounts are eliminated through urine as the body is not able to store them. A constant supply is, hence, an essential element of ensuring you receive the required levels of B Vitamins. Short supplies of this nutrient include more or less serious side effects, depending on the severity of the depletion. Such symptoms include skin disorders, irritability, fatigue, apathy, numbness, sleep problems, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, tingling in the hands and legs, abdominal cramps, adrenal insufficiency, mood changes, or even depression.

There are certain categories of people prone to developing a B5 deficiency. These categories include people who regularly consume alcohol, women who use oral contraceptives, those who consume antibiotics, sleeping pills or those who drink beverages containing caffeine (coffee, teas, etc). Supplements of Pantothenic Acid may interfere with Alzheimer’s medication, antibiotics and a variety of other medications; therefore it is recommended that you consult a health care specialist prior to starting supplementation.

High doses of B5 may cause such symptoms as diarrhea and increased risk of bleeding. It is important to remember that a supplement containing a complex of vitamins is preferred to that that features a single vitamin, because imbalances in other nutrients may be triggered in the latter cases.

Best Vitamin B5 Sources

There is a great variety of food sources that contain this nutrient. Some of the most common include broccoli, sunflower seeds, corn, eggs, cheese, fish, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and calf’s liver. Liver from chicken and other animals can also provide a high content of Vitamin B5. For instance, the chicken liver may ensure 7 mg per 3 ounces of serving, meaning roughly 70% of your daily allowance. From the vegetarian sources, rice bran is known to contain the highest levels of Pantothenic acid, with 7.4 grams per every 100 grams. This means a 74% daily value insurance from your daily recommended B5 intake.