The Collison Newsletter April 2012




Pantothenic acid, also called pantothenate or vitamin B5, is a water-soluble vitamin. It is an essential nutrient, required to synthesize coenzyme-A (CoA), as well as to synthesize and metabolize proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

The name is derived from the Greek pantothen meaning 'from everywhere' and small amounts of pantothenic acid are found in nearly every food. It was discovered by Roger J. Williams in 1919.

Since pantothenic acid participates in a wide variety of key biological roles, it is essential to all forms of life. As such, deficiencies in pantothenic acid may have numerous wide-ranging effects.

What is the Function of Pantothenic Acid / Vitamin B5?

In its metabolically active form, vitamin B5 gets combined with another small, sulphur-containing molecule to form coenzyme-A (CoA). This conversion enables vitamin B5 to participate in a wide variety of reactions.

In its CoA form, vitamin B5 plays a pivotal role in helping to release energy from sugars, starches and fats. This energy release occurs in the mitochondria found in every cell.

It is equally important for the creation of fat. Two basic types of fats - fatty acids and cholesterol - both require the CoA form of vitamin B5 for their synthesis.

Sometimes it is important for the body to make small chemical changes in the shape of cell proteins. For example, if a cell does not want its proteins to be chemically broken down into other substances, the cell may modify the structure of its proteins in order to prevent this chemical breakdown. One way for cells to accomplish this task is by attaching a special chemical group, called an acetyl group, to the proteins. Pantothenic acid or vitamin B5, in the form of CoA, can be used to acetylate proteins, thereby protecting them from chemical breakdown.

Deficiency of Pantothenic Acid / Vitamin B5

Pantothenic acid / Vitamin B5 deficiency is quite rare.

The symptoms of vitamin B5 deficiency are those of low energy, because vitamin B5 is needed to release energy from carbohydrates and fats. These symptoms include fatigue, listlessness, sensations of weakness, irritability and apathy.

Acetylcholine synthesis is also impaired, hence neurological symptoms, including numbness, tingling and muscle cramps, can appear in vitamin B5 deficiency.

Deficiency in pantothenic acid can also cause hypoglycaemia, or an increased sensitivity to insulin.

Health Conditions Requiring Special Emphasis on Pantothenic Acid / Vitamin B5 in Foods, or as a Supplement

  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Cataracts
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • General fatigue
  • Hyperlipidemia (high levels of fat in the blood)
  • Arthritis ( osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Hypoglycaemia.

Food Sources of Pantothenic Acid / Vitamin B5

Small quantities of pantothenic acid / vitamin B5 are found in most foods.

High levels are found in:

  • Meats
  • Whole grains
  • Broccoli
  • Avocados
  • Mushrooms - shiitake and crimini
  • Corn
  • Sweet potato
  • Cauliflower.

Whole grains are important since milling often removes much of the pantothenic acid, which is found in the outer layers of whole grains.

Pantothenic acid is relatively unstable in food, and significant amounts of this vitamin can be lost through cooking, freezing and commercial processing.

Dietary Supplements

Pantothenic acid and calcium-D-pantothenate are common forms of vitamin B5 available as a dietary supplement.

The daily requirement is:

  • Adults: 5-10 mg/ day
  • Children: 2-4 mg/ day.


Foods that are high in pantothenic acid / vitamin B5 can:

  • Help turn carbohydrates and fats into usable energy
  • Improve your ability to respond to stress by supporting the adrenal glands, especially if there is adrenal insufficiency
  • Assure the production of healthy fats in your cells.

The following could indicate a need for more high pantothenic acid / vitamin B5 foods, or a supplement of pantothenic acid / vitamin B5:

  • Fatigue
  • Listlessness
  • Sensation of weakness
  • Numbness, tingling and burning feelings in the feet.


*Copyright 2012: The Huntly Centre.

Disclaimer: All material in the website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.


Back to the list  Print friendly version