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Vitamin B5’s (Pantothenic Acid’s) 101: RDA's, Testing, Nutrition

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Vitamin B5’s (Pantothenic Acid’s) 101: RDA's, Testing, Nutrition

Vitamin B5 is also called pantothenic acid. Pantothenic acid gets its name from the Greek word “everywhere” because of its prevalence in many foods. This article will discuss pantothenic acid and its role in the body. We will take a look at common causes of deficiency, as well as symptoms to look out for. Then, we’ll discuss pantothenic acid testing and sources, including dietary and supplements.  


What is (Pantothenic Acid) Vitamin B5?

Vitamin B5 is a part of the B-vitamin family. B vitamins are water-soluble, and thus the body stores only small amounts of them. Pantothenic acid is essential for all life forms, including animals and plants.

Vitamin B5’s (Pantothenic Acid’s) Role in The Body

Vitamin B5 converts into coenzyme A (CoA) and exerts most of its effects in that form. Vitamin B5 is involved in the creation of energy from the breakdown of carbohydrates and proteins. It is also required for the creation of a component of red blood cells called hemoglobin, which carries oxygen and delivers it to the tissues. Vitamin B5 is utilized in the production of cholesterol and steroid hormones, including stress hormones made in the adrenal glands, such as cortisol, which affects not only our stress response but also our circadian rhythm.

The creation of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which influences cognitive functioning, muscle tone, and gastrointestinal movement, depends on vitamin B5 as well. The synthesis of the hormone melatonin is also influenced by vitamin B5, which plays a role in our circadian rhythm, as it is our primary nighttime hormone.  

Production of vitamins A and D is dependent upon vitamin B5. Vitamin A is important for development, immune function, eyesight, and more. Vitamin D affects bone integrity and immune function. Lastly, the detoxification of drugs and toxins in the liver also requires vitamin B5.

What Causes B5 (Pantothenic Acid) Deficiency?

Vitamin B5 deficiencies are rare since it's found in many foods. The only documented cases of pantothenic acid deficiency were those with a pantothenic acid-devoid diet or those taking a medication that blocks pantothenic acid absorption. Those with the genetic condition pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration are at risk for low levels of vitamin B5 as these people cannot properly utilize the vitamin.

B5 (Pantothenic Acid) Deficiency Symptoms

Vitamin B5 deficiency symptoms can include:

  • Numbness and burning in the hands and feet
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep problems
  • Stomach problems that can lead to anorexia

How to Test Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) Levels

Pantothenic acid can be measured in the blood and urine.

Pantothenic acid tests, have a reference range of 1.6 to 2.7 micromoles per liter (mcmol/L). Vitamin B5 is also found on micronutrient tests such as the Spectracell Laboratories Micronutrient Test.

Urinary levels of vitamin B5 can represent dietary intake. Urinary levels are generally around 2.6 milligrams/day (mg/day). Levels below one indicate a deficiency.

How to Get Enough Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) from Your Diet

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine created a Food and Nutrition Board that has created various Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) measurements. One such measurement is the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), defined as the average daily intake required to reach nutritional adequacy in 97-98% of the healthy population. Without sufficient evidence to form RDAs, Adequate Intake (AI) levels are created. AIs are defined as levels assumed to reach nutritional adequacy. For pantothenic acid, RDAs were not able to be established. Therefore, the Food and Nutrition Board created AIs based on intake levels of pantothenic acid in healthy populations.

Pregnant and lactating women often have different DRIs due to their differing nutritional needs. The AI for pregnant women aged 14-50 years is 6mg. The AI for lactating women aged 14-50 years is 7 mg.

Sources of pantothenic acid include food and supplements.

Dietary Sources of B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

As discussed previously, vitamin B5 is found in a wide array of foods. Certain foods are also fortified with vitamin B5, including breakfast cereals. Many energy drinks also have added vitamin B5.

While vitamin B5 is found in many foods, the cooking process significantly affects the levels of vitamin B5 in the finished product. Cooking methods may reduce vitamin B5 levels by 20% to 80%.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) creates daily value percentages for vitamins and minerals. Foods containing 20% or more of the daily value are considered high-nutrient sources. It's important to note that food labels are not required to list pantothenic acid unless it has been added to a food product.

B5 (Pantothenic Acid) Supplements

Pantothenic acid can be found in multivitamins, B-complexes, and as a stand-alone supplement. The most common forms of pantothenic acid found in supplements are pantethine and calcium pantothenate. No evidence shows which, or what form, has the best absorption.

Dosages range from 10 mg, commonly found in multivitamins, to 1,000 mg in b-complexes and stand-alone vitamin B supplements. Vitamin B5 can be found in tablets, capsules, and soft gel forms.

It’s important to note that no toxicities have been reported with vitamin B5. However, gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhea, has been reported with large supplement doses such as 10 grams/day or higher. There are no known interactions with medications.



Vitamin B5 is essential for human life, playing a significant role in the synthesis of many hormones and two vitamins and producing energy from certain types of food. Through the creation of these compounds, vitamin B5 indirectly affects many systems in the body. Vitamin B5 testing may be helpful to ensure proper dietary intake is being met. Knowing sources of vitamin B5, including both food and supplements, can help to ensure adequate levels in the body.

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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