Vitamin B5 - Pantothenic Acid

Vitamin B5 - Pantothenic Acid

Vitamin B5

What is it?

Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin originally extracted from liver but its name is derived from the Greek word meaning “everywhere” because it is found in so many foods. Even though it is available from so many natural sources most forms of vitamin B5 added to foods and beverages, or used in dietary supplements, is made by chemical synthesis.

Food sources include peanuts and peanut butter, liver, kidney, almonds, wheat bran, cheese, shellfish.

Refining, freezing, canning and cooking food causes losses of pantothenic acid, so a modern processed food diet would be expected to have lower amounts of vitamin B5 than a whole foods diet.

What does it do?

Nature knows best, the vast majority of vitamin B5 in foods is found already incorporated into Coenzyme A (CoA) and as phosphopantetheine.

Vitamin B5 / pantothenic acid’s job is to be used in CoA and acyl carrier proteins (ACP), which carry and transfer acetyl and acyl groups.

CoA is an essential cofactor in;

  • Fatty acid oxidation.
  • Lipid elongation.
  • Fatty acid synthesis.
  • The production of many secondary metabolites such as ubiquinone , squalene, and cholesterol.
  • Production of steroid molecules (e.g. steroid hormones, vitamin D and bile acids).
  • Acetylated compounds N-acetylglucosamine
  • Acetylated neurotransmitters ),
  • Prostaglandins and prostaglandin-like compounds.
  • Biosynthesis of phospholipids (e.g., phosphatidylcholine,-ethanolamine, -serine, -inositol)

    Why supplement?

    Most plants and microorganisms make pantothenic acid by enzymatically combining pantoic acid with ß-alanine. Mammals lack the enzyme for this synthetic step, so are unable to synthesize pantothenic acid and we must consume it or supplement.

    B5 deficiency has severe impact on the adrenal glands and in extreme cases the damage may be irreversible.  In early stages of deficiency, the adrenal gland hypertrophies (enlarges). The adrenal cortex swells and is depleted of ketosteroids. If the deficiency continues the adrenal gland starts to hypofunction, with an inability to respond appropriately to stress. Eventually the adrenals atrophy and cell damage occurs.

    If pantothenic acid is supplied early before adrenal exhaustion occurs, the response to stress can be improved and morphological changes to the adrenals can be halted and reversed. But once cell damage has occurred and you are suffering from clinical adrenal exhaustion, pantothenic acid administration is no longer effective.

    B5 Deficiency:

    • Adrenal exhaustion and dysfunction

      thymus shrinkage
    • spleen to enlarge
    • immune suppression
    • reductions in sperm motility,
    • and decreased plasma concentrations of testosterone and corticosterone.
    • Gastrointestinal disturbances (nausea, abdominal cramps, occasional vomiting, increased flatulence, and epigastric burning sensations);

      Signs and symptoms of deficiency:

      • The triad of fatigue (apathy and malaise), headache, and weakness
      • Weight loss
      • Reduced growth
      • Poor grooming
      • Hair loss
      • Exudate around the eyes
      • Diarrhea
      • Sleep disturbances;
      • Insomnia
      • Burning feet syndrome
      • Infertility
      • Personality changes and emotional disorders
      • Colds and flus

        How do I supplement?

        The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is 5 mg/d of pantothenic acid for males and females 14 years old and over, 6 mg/d during pregnancy, and 7 mg/d during lactation.

        In mammals, endogenous synthesis of CoA and ACP from pantothenic acid uses magnesium dependant enzymes and cysteine as a substrate, therefore it is important to have adequate supply of both magnesium and cysteine for B5 to do its job.

        Massive doses are needed to induce toxicity with vitamin B5. In clinical studies the dose used has varied significantly and many times the recommended daily intake has been taken for months without toxicity. The low end of dosing has generally been 10 to 100 mg/d with the high end of doses being 10 g/d (10,000mg/day)

        If you have any concerns about the correct dose for you or suspect a deficiency, be sure to consult with your health care professional before making any changes to your current lifestyle.


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