Vitamin B5 – The Hidden Vitamin for your Hair, Skin, and more.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is one of the most important B vitamins essential for the breaking down of food into energy.
It is found almost everywhere and promotes healthy skin, hair, better digestive health, immunity etc.
In this article we look into the health benefits of vitamin B5, vitamin B5 deficiency, toxicity, how to get pantothenic acid naturally and more!
What is Vitamin B5 and What Does it Do?
Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, gets its name from the Greek word pantos, which means “everywhere”; because this vitamin is found in almost all plants and animals.
Vitamin B5, like the other vitamins in the B-complex family, is water-soluble. This means that any excess will be excreted in the urine rather than being stored.
As with all B vitamins, pantothenic acid helps you convert the protein, carbohydrates, and fats you eat into energy.
B vitamins are also needed for:
- Maintaining a healthy digestive system
- Healthy skin, hair, and eyes
- Proper nervous system and liver function
- Production of red blood cells, which help in exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body
- Production of sex and stress-related hormones in the adrenal glands
It is also a precursor for coenzyme A (CoA), which enables many different enzymatic pathways .
Fortunately, we can obtain significant amounts of this vitamin through our diet. If our bodies do not get enough of this acid, we can develop a pantothenic acid deficiency, a rare condition.
So, what is the true significance of vitamin B5, and how can a lack of it affect your health?
Continue reading to find out more about the benefits of vitamin B5.
Health Benefits of Pantothenic acid
1. Vitamin B5 for skin
Vitamins are essential for skincare too!
Applying dexpanthenol, a chemical similar to pantothenic acid, to your skin prevents water loss and aids in moisture retention. This, in turn, can prevent dry skin, flakiness, and itchiness while also maintaining your skin’s softness and elasticity .
It also acts as a skin barrier restorer and a wound healing facilitator.
Dexpanthenol is available in several topical preparations tailored for individual needs like 
- a gel
- spray etc.
When taken as a dietary supplement, vitamin B5 has also been known to help with facial acne and reduce the number of acne-related facial blemishes. It can also help soften skin .
2. In synthesizing coenzyme A
Vitamin B5 is essential in the biosynthesis of coenzyme A. Coenzyme A is an important and universal cofactor involved in the synthesis and breakdown of fatty acids and cholesterol .
There are more than 70 enzymes that depend on coenzyme A.
3. May reduce cholesterol and triglycerides
Because pantothenic acid aids in the breakdown of fats, it has been investigated for its potential role in lowering cholesterol levels in people with dyslipidemia .
This is a condition in which the blood contains an abnormally high concentration of fat or lipids (e.g., LDL “bad” cholesterol, triglycerides) while having low levels of HDL “good” cholesterol.
Vitamin B5 is also important for maintaining a healthy digestive tract and assisting the body to utilize other vitamins.
4. May help in rheumatoid arthritis
Although preliminary research suggests that pantothenic acid may help with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the evidence is inconclusive.
According to a study, low pantothenic acid levels in the body causes decreased cortisol production, increased arthritic pain, and “pro-inflammatory” effects (capable of promoting inflammation) on the immune system associated with arthritis .
5. Vitamin B5 for acne
Pantothenic acid has been shown to improve epidermal barrier function, which aids in the reduction of acne breakouts.
After 12 weeks of administration, a pantothenic acid-based dietary supplement was found to be safe, well-tolerated. It reduced total facial lesion count versus placebo and significantly reduced area-specific and inflammatory blemishes in healthy adults with facial acne lesions .
6. May reduce hair loss
Keratin and vitamins are essential for maintaining healthy hair.
Pantothenic acid works with other nutrients to rebuild individual hair shafts, which are frequently damaged by heated hair tools, over-shampooing, or sun exposure. Vitamin B5 can also help with hair growth by supporting and protecting it .
7. May promote digestive health
Pantothenic acid, like the other B vitamins, aids in the transformation of food into energy. It is also required for the synthesis of fatty acids and important hormones. It promotes the health of the muscles and the digestive system .
8. May improve athletic performance
Most male and female athletes fail to meet pantothenic acid’s adequate intake (AI) .
Nutrition is one of the most important factors when it comes to athletic performance. B-complex vitamins, including pantothenic acid, are essential in energy production, red blood cell production, absorption, and transport of iron .
Vitamin B5 might also help athletes recover from overtraining syndrome, help their body cope with stress, and support muscle building. That being said, more research is needed on the effect of pantothenic acid supplementation on athletic performance.
9. May reduce blood lipid levels
Supplementation of pantethine, a derivative of pantothenic acid, is quite helpful in people with high lipid levels or those at mild-moderate cardiovascular risk.
10. May help in obesity
Pantothenic acid can also help treat or manage obesity and can also protect against adolescent obesity. This might be due to the effect of pantothenic acid in breaking down lipids in serum and adipose tissue and by also reducing insulin resistance [14,15,16].
11. Helps in wound healing
Vitamin B5 may also improve wound healing, even surgical wound healing, by promoting fibroblast migration (cells helpful for healing wounds), inducing keratinocyte proliferation, enhancing skin barrier function, and moisturizing the skin .
12. May improve immune function
Pantothenic acid helps build a strong immune system to resist infection.
Pantothenic acid can improve immune function by promoting immune cells to release cytokines. It also has potential anti-histamine effects and can play a role as a mast-cell stabilizer. It also plays a significant role in inflammation by adjusting the innate immune response.
Furthermore, in early infection, it makes neutrophils produce anti-inflammatory cytokines to slow down the activation of macrophages and stimulates the production or secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines to enhance the activation of macrophages in late infection .
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, pantothenic acid also reduces stress.
The potential of vitamin B5 in managing gastrointestinal diseases like Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), lung and kidney diseases is currently being investigated.
Vitamin B5 Daily Requirements
The recommended intake of vitamin B5 varies by age, as it does for most nutrients .
|Infant, 0-6 months
|Toddler, 7-12 months
|Child, 1-3 years
|Child, 9- 13 years
|Adult man, 19+ years
|Adult woman, 19+ years
Vitamin B5 Rich Foods
Because pantothenic acid is present in all living cells, it can be found in practically all plant and animal meals.
Grains: Whole grains and cereals are good sources of Vitamin B5.
Legumes: Pantothenic acid can be found in various legumes like lentils, soybeans, split peas, etc.
Vegetables and fruits: Broccoli, sweet potatoes, corn, cauliflower, avocadoes, tomatoes, etc., are good sources of vitamin B5.
Dairy products: Milk and milk products also contain reasonable amounts of pantothenic acid.
Meat, Poultry, and Fish: Salmon, shellfish, lobsters, chicken, turkey, beef, pork, duck especially organ meats like liver and kidney are good sources of pantothenic acid.
Pantothenic acid is also produced by gut bacteria, but it is not enough to meet dietary needs.
The Plant-based sources of vitamin B5 are :
|Amount of pantothenic acid/ 100 g
Animal-based sources of pantothenic acid are :
|Amount of pantothenic acid/ 100 g
|Chicken, breast, skinless
|Milk, 2% fat
Pantothenic acid is found in many foods; however, it is lost during processes like canning, freezing, and grinding. Fresh foods, rather than refined foods, should be consumed to guarantee adequate intake.
Pantothenic Acid Deficiency
Because pantothenic acid is found in practically all foods, deficiency of vitamin B5 is uncommon unless someone is severely malnourished. When someone is deficient in pantothenic acid, they are often deficient in other nutrients, making it difficult to pinpoint the symptoms unique to pantothenic acid insufficiency .
Vitamin B5 deficiency is likely to cause the following symptoms:
- Poor muscle coordination
- Numbness or burning sensation in hands and feet.
- Gastrointestinal issues with loss of appetite
- Disturbed sleep
- Postural hypotension (low blood pressure in standing position)
Pantothenic Acid Toxicity
The toxicity of pantothenic acid is uncommon and is not detected if you get it from food sources. There is also no tolerable upper intake level for pantothenic acid for the very same reason.
However, stomach upset or mild diarrhea have been reported with very large daily doses of 10 grams per day .
A few other side effects seen due to vitamin B5 toxicity are 
- Sore throat
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle pain
- Allergic reactions like itching, swelling, rashes, etc
- Joint pain
- Urinary tract infections etc.
Vitamin B5 Supplements
The majority of people get enough pantothenic acid from their diet. People with pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration, a rare inherited disorder, cannot use pantothenic acid properly. This condition can cause symptoms of pantothenic acid deficiency. In such cases, a healthcare provider may advise them to take a supplement.
Pantothenic acid is available as a stand-alone supplement, in B-complex dietary supplements, and even in multivitamin/multimineral supplements.
Pantothenic acid is frequently found in dietary supplements as calcium pantothenate.
Inform your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare providers about any prescription or over-the-counter medications you are taking before taking a supplement. They will be able to tell you if the dietary supplements will interact with your medications or if the medications will interfere with how your body absorbs, uses, or breaks down nutrients.
If you take any of the following medications, you should not take vitamin B5 supplements without consulting your doctor .
Tetracycline (antibiotics) – Vitamin B5 interferes with the absorption and effectiveness of the antibiotic tetracycline. When taking tetracycline, you should take B vitamins at different times. (Because all vitamin B complex supplements work in this manner, they should be taken at different times than tetracycline).
Drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease — Vitamin B5 may enhance the effects of cholinesterase inhibitors, a class of drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, potentially leading to severe side effects. These medications should not be combined with B5 unless under the supervision of a doctor.
Cholinesterase inhibitors include the following:
- Memantine hydrochloride
Q: What is the main role of vitamin b5?
A: It is required for the formation of blood cells and aids in the conversion of food into energy. Vitamin B5 contributes to the synthesis of coenzyme A, which is necessary to convert foods into fatty acids and cholesterol.
Q: How long does it take for B5 to clear acne?
A: According to studies, taking a B5 dietary supplement for 12 weeks resulted in a significant mean reduction in total acne.
Q: Who should not take B5?
A: People taking the following medicines should contact their healthcare provider before starting a B5 supplement  :
- Erythromycin stearate
- Erythromycin base
- Erythromycin lactobionate
- Erythromycin ethylsuccinate
Q: How much pantothenic acid for acne?
A: There are currently no official recommendations for how much vitamin B-5 to take to treat acne. It’s always a good idea to consult with a doctor or a dermatologist to figure out the best way to treat your acne.
Vitamin B5 is essential for maintaining healthy skin and hair and regulating the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
It is unlikely that you will ever suffer from vitamin B5 deficiency or need to take supplements if you eat a balanced and healthy diet that includes various foods.
Having said that, if you suspect you have a vitamin deficiency, the best thing to do is consult a health care provider and treat it accordingly.