Vitamin B5 – Pantothenic Acid – What Is It?

Vitamin B5 is also known as pantothenic acid.  Pantothenic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that is used as a part of coenzyme A (CoA), which plays an important role in energy metabolism. Pantothenic acid is absorbed in the small intestine, and what little is stored in the body is found in the liver.  Like most water-soluble vitamins, any excess intake is excreted in urine.

What Does It Do?

Pantothenic acid is combined with a derivative of ADP and the amino acid cysteine to form coenzyme A (CoA).  Acetyl-CoA is necessary for the formation of ATP for the synthesis and breakdown of protein, carbohydrates, fat, and alcohol.  ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the form of energy that the body uses, therefore, pantothenic acid is a critical vitamin that is used everywhere in the body.

Where Can You Find It?

Foods with B5Pantothenic acid comes from the Greek word “pantothen,” which mean “from every side.”  It is so named because this vitamin can be found in a wide variety of foods.  Pantothenic acid can be found in sunflower seeds, beef liver, mushrooms, yogurt, acorn squash, peanuts, milk, chicken, broccoli, avocados, potatoes, and egg yolk.

How Much Do You Need?

The RDA for pantothenic acid is shown below:

Group                                                                   RDA
   Infants & Children:
Birth – 6 months                                                 1.7 mg
7 – 12 months                                                     1.8 mg
1 – 3 years                                                             2 mg
4 – 8 years                                                             3 mg
9 – 13 years                                                          4 mg
14 – 18 years                                                        5 mg

  Adults: 
Men: 19 years and older                                   5 mg
Women: 19 years and older                             5 mg
Pregnant women                                               6 mg
Breastfeeding women                                       7 mg

What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough?

Pantothenic acid deficiencies are rare, or may be masked when there are deficiencies of other vitamins.  General cases of deficiency can be found in extreme malnutrition or in cases of alcoholism.  Since this vitamin is responsible for energy production, the symptoms of deficiency include headache, fatigue, apathy, irritability, impaired muscle coordination, and gastrointestinal distress.  A deficiency in pantothenic acid may also cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) as it can lead to increased sensitivity of cells to insulin.  What this means is that cells take in more sugar from the blood than normal, leaving not enough in the blood itself to be circulated to cells in need.  In studies of pantothenic acid deficiency, when this vitamin was reintroduced to people, all signs of the deficiency disappeared.

What Happens If You Take Too Much?

There are no known toxicities with taking too much pantothenic acid, therefore, there is no Tolerable Upper Limit.  Any excess intake is excreted in urine.

Bottom Line

The best way to consume any nutrient in order to avoid under-consumption is to consume a wide variety of foods, in a wide variety of colors, and eat according to MyPlate.

Until next time, remember that… there are no excuses when it comes to your health!

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