Vitamin B5: Benefits, Sources, Deficiency & Supplements

by Ella

Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, is an essential nutrient that plays a pivotal role in numerous biological functions. As a member of the B-vitamin family, it is water-soluble and vital for converting food into energy, synthesizing coenzymes, and maintaining overall health. This comprehensive guide explores the benefits of vitamin B5, its dietary sources, the consequences of deficiency, and the role of supplements in ensuring adequate intake.


What is Vitamin B5?

Chemical Structure and Properties

Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, derives its name from the Greek word “pantothen,” meaning “from everywhere,” reflecting its widespread availability in various food sources. The structure of vitamin B5 includes a pantoic acid and a beta-alanine. It is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it dissolves in water and cannot be stored in the body in significant amounts, necessitating regular dietary intake.


Biological Role

Vitamin B5 is essential for the synthesis of coenzyme A (CoA), a coenzyme critical for fatty acid metabolism and the Krebs cycle, which generates energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It also plays a role in synthesizing and metabolizing proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.


Health Benefits of Vitamin B5

Energy Metabolism

Coenzyme A Synthesis


Vitamin B5 is crucial for the synthesis of coenzyme A, which is involved in the Krebs cycle, a key energy-producing process in the body. Coenzyme A facilitates the conversion of pyruvate to acetyl-CoA, a critical step in metabolizing carbohydrates and fats into usable energy.

Synthesis of Essential Molecules

Hormones and Cholesterol

Pantothenic acid is involved in synthesizing steroid hormones, such as cortisol, and cholesterol, which is vital for producing vitamin D, bile acids, and various hormones. Adequate vitamin B5 levels are essential for maintaining hormonal balance and healthy lipid profiles.

Skin Health

Wound Healing

Vitamin B5 plays a role in skin health by promoting wound healing and reducing inflammation. It aids in the proliferation of skin cells and enhances the repair mechanisms of the skin barrier, making it a common ingredient in skincare products.

Immune Function

Antioxidant Properties

Vitamin B5 has antioxidant properties that help protect cells from oxidative stress. It supports the immune system by enhancing the production and function of white blood cells, which are crucial for defending against infections.

Mental Health

Neurotransmitter Synthesis

Pantothenic acid is involved in synthesizing acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter essential for memory, learning, and overall cognitive function. Adequate levels of vitamin B5 may support mental clarity and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Dietary Sources of Vitamin B5

Animal-Based Sources

Meat and Poultry

Liver, kidney, and other organ meats are particularly rich in vitamin B5. Chicken, beef, turkey, and pork are also good sources, providing substantial amounts of pantothenic acid.


Fish such as salmon and trout contain significant levels of vitamin B5, contributing to a balanced diet that supports overall health.

Plant-Based Sources


Many vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin B5, including avocados, broccoli, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes. These foods are not only rich in pantothenic acid but also provide a variety of other essential nutrients.

Legumes and Whole Grains

Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and beans, along with whole grains like brown rice, oats, and whole wheat, are valuable plant-based sources of vitamin B5. These foods also offer fiber, protein, and other vitamins and minerals.

Dairy Products

Milk, yogurt, and cheese contain moderate amounts of vitamin B5, making them beneficial additions to a balanced diet. Fermented dairy products like yogurt also provide probiotics that support gut health.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds, including sunflower seeds, peanuts, and cashews, are good sources of pantothenic acid. They also offer healthy fats, protein, and other vital nutrients.

Vitamin B5 Deficiency

Causes of Deficiency

Poor Dietary Intake

Vitamin B5 deficiency is rare due to its widespread availability in various foods. However, individuals with poor dietary habits, restrictive diets, or malabsorption disorders may be at risk.

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and other gastrointestinal disorders, can impair nutrient absorption, leading to deficiencies in vitamin B5 and other essential nutrients.

Symptoms of Deficiency

Fatigue and Weakness

One of the primary symptoms of vitamin B5 deficiency is fatigue and general weakness, due to its crucial role in energy metabolism.

Neurological Issues

Deficiency in pantothenic acid can lead to neurological issues, including numbness, tingling, and burning sensations in the feet, often referred to as “burning feet syndrome.”

Immune Dysfunction

Vitamin B5 deficiency can impair immune function, making the body more susceptible to infections and reducing the ability to heal wounds effectively.

Diagnosing Deficiency

Medical History and Dietary Assessment

A thorough medical history and dietary assessment are essential for diagnosing vitamin B5 deficiency. Healthcare providers may inquire about dietary habits, medical conditions, and symptoms.

Blood Tests

Blood tests measuring the levels of pantothenic acid and other related markers can help confirm a deficiency. However, such tests are not commonly performed unless there is a strong suspicion of deficiency.

Vitamin B5 Supplements

Types of Supplements

Oral Supplements

Oral supplements of vitamin B5 are available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, and powders. These supplements are commonly used to ensure adequate intake, particularly in individuals with dietary restrictions or increased nutritional needs.

Topical Applications

Vitamin B5 is also available in topical forms, such as creams and lotions, often used to promote skin health and wound healing.

Dosage Recommendations

Daily Recommended Intake

The daily recommended intake of vitamin B5 varies by age, sex, and life stage. For adults, the Adequate Intake (AI) is 5 mg per day. Pregnant and lactating women may require slightly higher amounts.

Supplement Dosage

Supplement dosages can vary depending on individual needs and the specific product. It is essential to follow the dosage instructions provided by the manufacturer or healthcare provider.

Potential Side Effects


Vitamin B5 is generally considered safe, with low toxicity risk. However, excessive intake from supplements can lead to gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea and nausea.

Allergic Reactions

In rare cases, individuals may experience allergic reactions to vitamin B5 supplements. Symptoms can include rash, itching, and difficulty breathing. If such reactions occur, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately.

Combining Vitamin B5 with Other Nutrients

Synergistic Effects

B-Vitamin Complex

Vitamin B5 works synergistically with other B vitamins, such as B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12 (cobalamin). These vitamins collectively support energy metabolism, neurological function, and overall health.

Enhancing Absorption

Food Pairing

Combining vitamin B5-rich foods with other nutrient-dense foods can enhance overall nutrient absorption and utilization. For example, pairing whole grains with vegetables and protein sources can provide a balanced intake of essential nutrients.

Special Considerations

Pregnancy and Lactation

Increased Requirements

During pregnancy and lactation, the body’s demand for vitamin B5 increases to support fetal development and milk production. Adequate intake is essential for the health of both mother and baby.

Athletes and Active Individuals

Energy Demands

Athletes and individuals with high levels of physical activity may have increased energy demands, requiring higher intake of vitamin B5 to support energy metabolism and muscle function.

Elderly Population

Nutrient Absorption

As people age, the efficiency of nutrient absorption can decline. Ensuring adequate intake of vitamin B5 and other essential nutrients is crucial for maintaining energy levels and overall health in the elderly.

Practical Tips for Ensuring Adequate Vitamin B5 Intake

Balanced Diet

Diverse Food Choices

Eating a varied diet that includes a range of food sources rich in vitamin B5 is the best way to ensure adequate intake. Incorporating vegetables, whole grains, legumes, dairy products, nuts, seeds, and animal-based foods can provide sufficient levels of pantothenic acid.

Cooking and Preparation

Preserving Nutrients

Some cooking methods can lead to the loss of water-soluble vitamins like vitamin B5. To preserve nutrients, consider steaming, sautéing, or consuming raw fruits and vegetables when appropriate.

Reading Labels

Supplement Selection

When choosing vitamin B5 supplements, read labels carefully to ensure the product meets your nutritional needs. Look for high-quality supplements from reputable manufacturers.

See Also: Vitamin B12: Benefits, Foods, Deficiency & Supplements


Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, is an essential nutrient with numerous health benefits, including energy metabolism, synthesis of essential molecules, skin health, immune function, and mental health. It is widely available in various foods, making deficiency rare. However, certain individuals may require supplements to meet their nutritional needs. By understanding the importance of vitamin B5, its dietary sources, the signs of deficiency, and the role of supplements, individuals can take proactive steps to ensure adequate intake and maintain optimal health.


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