What is Vitamin B5?
Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, is a vital nutrient to the functioning of the human body. It plays multiple roles within the body and works in conjunction with other B-Vitamins to create energy by using fats and proteins. A family of eight in total, B Vitamins affect many areas of the body, including the skin, eyes, hair, liver, and nervous system. They are water-soluble vitamins, which means that they are not stored in the body and are in need of constant replenishment from foods and, in some cases, dietary supplements.
Vitamin B5 plays an intricate role in the breakdown of fats and carbs as well as in the creation of red blood cells and sex hormones. It works within the adrenal glands and is imperative to both the digestive system and the nervous system. It’s presence in the adrenal glands means that B5 impacts the creation of cortisol, which controls inflammation in the body, allergies, and stress.
Our bodies require Vitamin B5 to break down cholesterol in the blood. As such, it has been suggested that B5 can be used as an agent to lower cholesterol.
Where does B5 come from?
B5 can be produced within the gut by healthy bacteria, although these levels do not meet dietary needs. Vitamin B5 can be found in a host of sources including fresh meat, vegetables, and unprocessed grains. Significant levels of Vitamin B5 can be found in foods such as cauliflower, mushrooms, broccoli, avocado, lentils, eggs, corn, kale, tomatoes, meats (particularly organ meats such as liver or kidney), poultry, dairy, soybeans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, whole-grain cereals and breads, and sweet potatoes. Vitamin B5 is found in most multi-vitamins as well as B-complex vitamins, and is frequently added to processed foods. It can also be purchased independently as Vitamin B5 or labeled as pantothenic acid.
Vitamin B5 Deficiency
B5 deficiency is a rare condition, but not completely unheard of. Individuals who do not keep a healthy, varied diet may experience deficiencies. In rare cases, individuals with genetic disorders may have difficulty metabolizing B5, causing a deficiency. Symptoms of a B5 deficiency may include fatigue, headaches, depression, vomiting, insomnia, abdominal pain, irritability, and numbness or burning in the feet and hands. Individuals with B5 deficiencies may also be prone to the development of infections of the respiratory or urinary tract.
What conditions can Vitamin B5 treat?
Foremost, Vitamin B5 supplementation can be used to treat Vitamin B5 deficiency and the symptoms associated with it.
As noted above, it is believed that Vitamin B5 may be involved in the treatment of high cholesterol, as it acts as an important component in the breakdown of cholesterol in the body. There is some early research to support this theory, and further studies are being conducted to identify exactly what role B5 plays and whether it can be used as a source of treatment.
Early research conducted on animals suggests that Vitamin B5 may also play a role in the treatment of wounds. B5 has been found particularly helpful in speeding up the healing of post-surgical wounds. These studies determined the efficacy of B5 wound treatment was significant when used in conjunction with Vitamin C.
There appears to be a correlation between Rheumatoid Arthritis and B5; in some cases, individuals with particularly low levels of B5 have been noted to have more severe symptoms of RA. A small study conducted in the 1980’s addressed the use of B5 in the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis, however this has not been studied in depth to determine the significance of the relationship.
Treatment of dry eyes and eye trauma with eye drops containing chemicals like B5 has been found to be effective in some cases. However, the existing research is inconsistent, and it is not recommended to utilize B5 to treat eye irritation or trauma at this time.
The applications of B5 may be incredibly diverse; the National Institutes of Health have studied the efficacy of B5 in treating numerous conditions, including ADHD, constipation, osteoarthritis, sinus infections, alcoholism, allergies, asthma, hair loss, heart disease, kidney disorders, colitis, depression, Diabetes, headaches, multiple sclerosis, and muscle cramps.
Vitamin B5 Dosage
A typical Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) dosage is between 5-10mg and is based on numerous factors, including age and weight. For men and women 14 years and older, a daily intake of 5mg is recommended, while pregnant or breastfeeding women can be prescribed as much as 6-7mg daily. The dosage for children varies significantly.
Cautions and Side Effects
The side effects of B5 are very minimal and this supplement has not been found to interact negatively with medication or foods. B5 appears safe for healthy adults, pregnant women, children and infants.
When to Talk to a Doctor
As with all medications, treatments, and dietary supplements, it is recommended to discuss options and risks with a doctor before use. Any concerns about Vitamin B5 deficiency or experiencing symptoms related to such a deficiency should be discussed with a healthcare professional. In such cases, a physician may recommend a blood test prior to taking a dietary supplement.
Thankfully, B5 is present in many foods like fresh meats, whole grains and vegetables, and significant deficiencies are unlikely in most adults. As always, eating a healthy, balanced diet, and getting regular physical activity are beneficial for the maintenance of one’s wellbeing.