Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, is a component of several coenzymes that play a critical role in the utilization of all three main food components - proteins, fats and carbohydrates to produce energy. In fact, before any sugar can be burned for fuel, it must be converted into coenzyme A (CoA), a substance of very unusual biochemical significance, and you must have enough pantothenic acid for that conversion to occur. Coenzymes are organic molecules that carry chemical groups between enzymes, or proteins that accelerate chemical reactions. Pantothenic acid is also critical in the manufacture of adrenal hormones and red blood cells, as well as for proper function of the adrenal gland and has long been considered as "antistress" vitamin because of its central role in adrenal function. Pantothenic acid also aids in the production of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying pigment in red blood cells.
Deficiency of pantothenic acid is believed to be quite rare in humans as pantothenic acid is found in a large number of foods. Mild deficiency is almost always goes undetected as it has no obvious symptoms. However, considering the significance of the role of the pantothenic acid in utilization of fats, carbohydrates, sterols and steroid hormones, a partial failure of these processes may not produce a particular lesion, but can cause serious damage to your health. In fact, many different types of lesions have been observed in animals suffering from severe pantothenic acid deficiency. These involved skin, intestines, nerves and spinal cord.
Rich Sources of Vitamin B5
Rich food sources of pantothenic acid include liver and other organ meats, milk, fish, and poultry.. Good plant sources of pantothenic acid include whole grains, broccoli, cauliflower, and nuts. Pantothenic acid is not present in fruits.
Vitamin B5 Quick Calculator
So, what daily foods can supply the recommended 7 milligrams of vitamin B5 and give you that blissful peace of mind and a great feeling of being full of energy? Here is a selection of some foods (RDA=Recommended Daily Allowance):
- Liver, calf (3.5 oz) - 114% RDA
- Peanuts (3.5 oz) - 40% RDA
- Mushrooms (3.5 oz) - 31% RDA
- Soybean flour (3.5 oz) - 28% RDA
- Pecans (3.5 oz) - 24% RDA
- Oatmeal, dry (3.5 oz) - 21% RDA
- Buckwheat flour (3.5 oz) - 20% RDA
- Sunflower seeds (3.5 oz) - 20% RDA
- Broccoli (3.5 oz) - 17% RDA
- Whole wheat flour (3.5 oz) - 15% RDA
- Avocados (3.5 oz) - 15% RDA
- Cauliflower (3.5 oz) - 14% RDA
- Kale (3.5 oz) - 14% RDA
Bioavailability of Pantothenic Acid
Bioavailability is the percentage of a nutrient absorbed from the food. Nutrients consumed but not released during the digestive process for absorption have no nutritional value. More than 30% of pantothenic acid content of meat is lost during cooking, and 50% is lost by the milling of flour. On the whole, the average bioavailability of vitamin B5 from the "average American diet" is about 50%.
Pantothenic Acid Deficiency and Acne
Pantothenic acid is concentrated in the adrenal gland where it is necessary for the production of hormones, including the stress hormone cortisol. When we are under stress and thus producing excess cortisol, the pantothenic acid is rapidly used up. This results in lower amounts of pantothenic acid available for the proper utilization of fats and carbohydrates and for maintaining the proper ratio of sex hormones in the body. This in turn leads to abnormal secretions in the sebaceous gland, which, we know, is a hallmark of acne. In several studies, pantothenic acid supplements have significantly improved the course of acne for many patients. As it is nontoxic even at high doses, dosages can vary greatly from 10 mg (for pregnant and nursing women) to several thousands mg a day.
Two Forms of Pantothenic Acid
Pantothenic acid comes in two forms: calcium pantothenate, which is typically used for treating conditions such as stress and heartburn, and pantethine-a byproduct of pantothenic acid- which is used to lower cholesterol levels. A typical dose is 10-25 mg in a B-complex supplement. There is no official RDA for vitamin B5, but a daily intake of 7 milligrams is recommended by most experts. Studies using pantethine to lower cholesterol, typically used 900 mg dosages, split into three 300-mg doses. Pantethine is more powerful than any side-effect-causing medication used to reduce cholesterol. Dozens of solid medical studies from Europe and Japan attest to its efficacy and safety. Thousands of people are living proof. But it is certainly the most underappreciated vita-nutrient. Some doctors recommend between 100 and 200 mg of pantothenic acid or pantethine every day. To stabilize cholesterolor and triglycerides, or to tame inflammation, allergies, or immune system, you'll need 600-900 mg a day of both pantothenic acid and pantethine.
Pantothenic Acid Deficiency and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
In several clinical studies, a daily 900 mg dose of pantethine, matched with an equal amount of pantothenic acid dramatically improved Crohn's and colitis patients. By helping beneficial bacteria to grow in the intestines, pantethine also helps control the yeast infections found in most colitis patients.
Pantothenic Acid Deficiency and Heart Diseases
Pantothenic acid, along with another vitamin B coenzyme called CoQ10, appears to help prevent the accumulation of fatty acids wuthin the heart muscle, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.
Pantothenic Acid Deficiency and Immune System
Some research indicates that pantothenic acid is vital to healthy functioning of the immune system. People who take high doses of pantothenic acid suffer from fewer herpes virus, Epstein-Barr virus, and shingles infections. Pantothenic acid is essetial to the health of the thymus and antibody production. Dr. Atkins suggests that anyone who takes prednisone or other steroid medications will benefit from pantethine supplementation. People suffering from allergies, asthma, lupus, or psoriasis, can expect less need for the drug.