Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a vital role in maintaining human health. As a member of the B-vitamin family, it contributes to various essential processes in the body, ranging from energy production to hormone synthesis. In this article, we will explore the background, functions, sources, and benefits of this indispensable nutrient.
Pantothenic acid was discovered in the 1930s by the American biochemist Roger J. Williams, who named it after the Greek word “pantothen,” meaning “from everywhere,” due to its widespread presence in food. As a key component of coenzyme A (CoA) and acyl carrier protein (ACP), vitamin B5 is involved in numerous metabolic pathways that are crucial for overall health.
Functions Of Vitamin B5
Vitamin B5 is crucial for several important functions in the body, including:
- Coenzyme A (CoA) synthesis: Vitamin B5 is a vital component of coenzyme A, which is required for numerous biochemical reactions. CoA is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, helping to generate energy for cellular processes.
- Fatty acid synthesis: As a part of CoA, vitamin B5 is involved in the synthesis of fatty acids, which are essential for maintaining cell membrane integrity and providing energy storage.
- Cholesterol synthesis: Vitamin B5 plays a role in the synthesis of cholesterol, a precursor for other important molecules, such as steroid hormones and bile acids.
- Hormone synthesis: Vitamin B5 plays a role in the synthesis of steroid hormones, such as cortisol, which helps regulate stress responses and maintain overall physiological balance.
- Neurotransmitter synthesis: Pantothenic acid is essential for the production of neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine, which helps regulate nervous system functions.
Good Sources Of Vitamin B5
Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, is widely distributed in various foods, making it relatively easy to obtain through a balanced diet. Some good dietary sources of vitamin B5 include:
- Meat and poultry: Chicken, turkey, beef, and pork are rich sources of vitamin B5. Organ meats, such as liver and kidney, are particularly high in pantothenic acid content.
- Fish and seafood: Fish like salmon, tuna, and shellfish provide vitamin B5 along with other essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and various minerals.
- Dairy products: Milk, yogurt, and cheese contain vitamin B5, as well as other essential nutrients like calcium, protein, and vitamin D.
- Eggs: Eggs provide pantothenic acid, in addition to other nutrients like protein, healthy fats, and vitamins A, D, and E.
- Legumes: Beans, lentils, and peas are good plant-based sources of vitamin B5, as well as protein, fibre, and various minerals.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and other nuts and seeds contain pantothenic acid, along with healthy fats, protein, and other essential nutrients.
- Whole grains: Whole grain products like whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, and barley provide vitamin B5, fibre, and various minerals.
- Vegetables: Certain vegetables, such as avocados, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes, contain varying amounts of vitamin B5.
- Fruits: Some fruits, including oranges, strawberries, and tomatoes, provide small amounts of pantothenic acid.
How Much Vitamin B5 Do We Need?
The recommended daily intake of vitamin B5 varies depending on age, sex, and life stage. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides the following Adequate Intakes (AI) for biotin:
- Infants (0-6 months): 1.7 mg/day (milligrams)
- Infants (7-12 months): 1.8 mg/day
- Children (1-3 years): 2 mg/day
- Children (4-8 years): 3 mg/day
- Children (9-13 years): 4 mg/day
- Adolescents and adults (14+ years): 5 mg/day
- Pregnant women: 6 mg/day
- Breastfeeding women: 7 mg/day
These values are classified as the adequate intake (AI) not recommended dietary allowance (RDA).
What Are The Sign Of Vitamin B5 Deficiency?
Vitamin B5 deficiency is rare due to its widespread availability in food. However, when it occurs, symptoms may include:
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Irritability and mood changes
- Insomnia or sleep disturbances
- Digestive issues, such as nausea or abdominal cramps
- Tingling or numbness in the extremities
What Happens If I take Too Much Vitamin B5?
Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin, and excess amounts are typically excreted through urine, reducing the risk of toxicity. However, taking extremely high doses of vitamin B5, usually in the form of supplements, might cause some mild side effects, although cases of severe toxicity are rare. Some possible side effects of taking too much vitamin B5 include:
- Diarrhoea: Consuming excessive amounts of vitamin B5 may cause gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhoea, in some individuals.
- Stomach cramps and discomfort: High doses of vitamin B5 may lead to stomach cramps, discomfort, or other digestive disturbances.
- Nausea: Some individuals may experience nausea when taking large doses of vitamin B5 supplements.
- Headache: In rare cases, high intake of vitamin B5 might cause headaches or dizziness.