Vitamin B5 takes its name from the Greek word pantothen, which means “on all sides.”
Small quantities of it are found in nearly every food, therefore deficiency of this vitamin is very rare.
What Pantothenic Acid does:
It plays a vital role in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, which assists in the production of energy in the body. It is a primary component of coenzyme A (CoA), a helper or cofactor for more than 70 different enzymic pathways in the body. These pathways include the production of acetylcholine, which is involved in memory, learning, attention, and contraction of the skeletal muscles.
CoA is also involved in the production of melatonin, antibodies, adrenal hormones, and heme (the protein in hemoglobin which transports oxygen through the body).
Benefits of Pantothenic Acid:
Pantothenic Acid has a stable form called Pantethine, which has been shown to mildly improve levels of both cholesterol and our blood clotting factor.
Many people would have heard of the term, “PRO Vitamin B5” advertised for shampoos and moisturizers. Many shampoos contain panthenol, a substance that is chemically similar to pantothenic acid because it acts as a lubricant in hair.
When used in moisturizing creams it softens skin. Some studies show that panthenol can assist in wound healing when applied topically.
Pantothenic Acid is abundant in shitake mushrooms, avocados, organ meats, brewer’s yeast, eggs, beans, chicken, broccoli, normal mushrooms and sweet potato (kumara). Whole grains are another good source.
Refining of grains causes a dramatic loss of this vitamin, as well as the canning of many foods.
Deficiency signs and conditions:
The most characteristic deficiency is burning feet syndrome. Some animal studies show that it is caused by the deterioration of myelin sheath, which coats and protects our nerves.
Other symptoms include burning and tingling of the feet, headache, insomnia, fatigue, and mental disturbances.
Those at the highest risk of deficiency include prisoners of war and malnourished individuals.
For most people, a 10 mg supplement is adequate although a “stress” B group supplement containing up to 100 mg is certainly safe. Pantothenic acid is best taken with other members of the B group family.
Most dietary supplements provide pantothenic acid as D-calcium pantothenate, though it might be found as panthenol or pantethine.
For those who want to be natural, some people use royal jelly which contains large amounts of pantothenic acid. Royal jelly is a substance that bees secrete to feed their larvae.
Because of the important role that pantothenic acid plays in coenzyme A, I highly recommend supplementation of it to anyone who has to use their brain in their work. For example, science students, scientists, accountants who have to calculate mentally, designers, patients with high cholesterol, as well as those who are mentally stressed.