Get to Know Vitamin B5

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Get to Know Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 is part of the B complex vitamin family, which, like its cousins, helps the body convert food into fuel that the body uses for energy. Interested in learning more about vitamin B5? Keep reading!

What is vitamin B5?

The other name for vitamin B5 is pantothenic acid. This is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that it dissolves in water, it’s absorbed by tissues, and it’s not stored in the body.

What does vitamin B5 do?

The main role of vitamin B5 is to make coenzyme A (CoA) and acyl carrier protein. CoA is needed to help enzymes make and break down fatty acids, and acyl carrier protein helps make fatty acids. (Fatty acids are the building blocks of fat, both in the body and in the foods that we eat).

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Vitamin B5 helps to break down fats, and researchers have studied this vitamin to see if it might help people lower their cholesterol levels, especially since low levels of CoA could prevent the breakdown of fat. The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shares that several clinical trials have shown that a form of vitamin B5 called pantethine reduced lipid (blood fat) levels when taken in large amount, but pantothenic acid doesn’t work the same way. A study out of China involved giving people with high triglyceride levels 600 milligrams (mg) of pantethine daily, along with dietary counseling. Triglyceride levels dropped by 16.5% with pantethine compared with baseline after eight weeks. But it’s possible that the dietary counseling that the participants received also helped lower triglyceride levels. More research is needed on the role of vitamin B5 in lower blood lipid levels.

Besides fatty acid synthesis, vitamin B5 helps the body:

  • Make red blood cells
  • Make stress and sex hormones
  • Make cholesterol
  • Maintain a healthy digestive tract
  • Support healthy hair, skin, and nails
  • Promote a healthy nervous system

What foods have vitamin B5?

It’s easy to get enough vitamin B5 from foods. In fact, the word “pantothenic” is derived from the Greek word “pantos” which means “everywhere.” Both animal and plant foods contain this vitamin, although, unfortunately, processing can decrease the vitamin B5 content by between 20% and 80%. The body absorbs about half of vitamin B5 from foods.

Key sources of vitamin B5 are:

  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Organ meats
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Mushrooms
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Legumes and lentils
  • White and sweet potatoes
  • Whole grains
  • Fortified cereals
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Brewer’s yeast

Vitamin B5 is also found in dietary supplements, including multivitamin/mineral supplements, B-complex supplements, and supplements containing only vitamin B5. Pantothenic acid in supplements is typically in the form of calcium pantothenate or pantethine. According to the ODS, the amount of vitamin B5 in supplements ranges from about 10 mg in multivitamin/mineral supplements to up to 1,000 mg in B-complex or vitamin B5-only supplements.

How much vitamin B5 do you need?

The Recommended Daily Allowance for vitamin B5 is as follows:

  • For men age 19 and older: 5 mg
  • For women age 19 and older: 5 mg
  • For pregnancy: 6 mg
  • For lactation: 7 mg

What are signs of vitamin B5 deficiency?

Vitamin B5 is found in many foods, so a deficiency is pretty rare, and most people in the United States get enough of this vitamin. However, people who are deficient in other nutrients and/or who have severe malnutrition are at risk for a deficiency.

People who have a rare genetic disorder called pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN) are most likely to have an inadequate vitamin B5 status and become deficient.

Signs of a vitamin B5 deficiency include:

  • Numbness or burning in the hands or feet
  • Muscle pain
  • Dermatitis
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Stomach upset
  • Lack of appetite
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Dementia

What are signs of vitamin B5 toxicity?

The ODS states that there are no reports of vitamin B5 toxicity in humans at high doses. But taking more than 10 grams per day of a vitamin B5 supplement can lead to diarrhea and stomach upset.

Other things to know about vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 may have moderate interactions with some medications, including some antibiotics.

Also, vitamin B5 is being studied for use for other conditions, such as dermatitis, wound healing, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Panthenol, a substance that’s derived from vitamin B5, is frequently used in skincare and cosmetics as a moisturizer. Facial moisturizers and cleansers, eye creams, sunscreens, shaving products, shampoo, and conditioner are some of the products that are likely to contain panthenol. It’s safe to use and has a low likelihood of causing irritation.

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Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES on social media

A Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at Good Measures, LLC, where she is a CDE manager for a virtual diabetes program. Campbell is the author of Staying Healthy with Diabetes: Nutrition & Meal Planning, a co-author of 16 Myths of a Diabetic Diet, and has written for  publications including Diabetes Self-Management, Diabetes Spectrum, Clinical Diabetes, the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation’s newsletter,, and

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