Vitamin B5 (also called pantothenic acid) is one of the 8 B vitamins. Like all B vitamins, it is used by the body to convert food into fuel for energy. Vitamin B5 also has some additional functions such as helping with the manufacture of red blood cells and some hormones.
All B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning the body cannot store them which means you need to get your daily supply through your diet.
Where do I find vitamin B5?
- Pantothenic acid (B5) derives its name from the Greek word ‘pantothen’ meaning ‘from everywhere’ which reflects the fact that it’s plentiful in many different foods.
- Good sources include: fresh meats, vegetables, unprocessed grains, brewer’s yeast, corn, cauliflower, broccoli, avocados, eggs, soybeans, peanuts and salmon - to name but a few. It’s also found in multivitamin packs and in vitamin B complex supplements.
- The U.S. Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine* recommends a daily intake of 5mg for both men and women.
- According to NHS Choices taking 200mg or less a day of vitamin B5 supplement (pantothenic acid supplement) is ‘unlikely to cause any harm’.
Why do I need vitamin B5?
Your body needs vitamin B5 to help it breakdown fats and carbohydrates to provide your body with fuel. It also helps in the metabolism of proteins. Vitamin B5 is particularly important for healthy skin and to synthesis coenzyme A - an enzyme that helps break down fatty acids.
Vitamin B5 also plays an important role in the manufacture of red blood cells, sex hormones and in keeping the body’s digestive tract healthy.
Like many of the B Complex vitamins it is also needed to help turn other vitamins in this group into a form that the body can use.
A number of studies suggest that vitamin B5 may have other benefits too. Some small studies have linked vitamin B5 supplements to speedier wound healing, to lower cholesterol and possibly even relief from the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
How will I know if I am lacking in Vitamin B5?
A vitamin B5 deficiency is rare but when it does happen symptoms include headaches, fatigue, irritability, vomiting, stomach pain, upper respiratory infections and numbness and burning sensations in the hands and feet.
Can vitamin B5 ever be harmful?
Very high doses of vitamin B5 can cause diarrhoea, nausea, and heartburn. Vitamin B5 supplements can interfere with some medications, including some antibiotics and a group of drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors which are used to treat Alzheimer’s Disease. If you are on medication you should consult your doctor to check if it’s safe to take vitamin B5 supplements.