Vitamin B5 or Pantothenic Acid is a water-soluble vitamin belonging to the B group vitamins.
Vitamin B5 is essential for human growth, reproduction and many normal bodily processes. These processes include the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins, the production of glucose in the body, the breakdown of fats and the production of cholesterol and certain hormones. Vitamin B5 is also important for the production of haemoglobin, which is the special substance inside red blood cells that transports oxygen to all the tissues in the body. Vitamin B5 is easily absorbed from the intestines and is distributed to all tissues in the body. The body does not break down Vitamin B5 and excretes large amounts of this vitamin in the urine. There are no medical uses for Vitamin B5, although it is included in multivitamin supplements and in many nutritional replacement supplements. Very large doses of Vitamin B5 do not usually cause any toxic effects, although some people may experience diarrhoea.
Vitamin B5 deficiency is very rare in humans that consume a normal diet because Vitamin B5 is available from a very large range of food sources. Vitamin B5 deficiency causes depression, personality changes, heart problems, increased risk of infections, fatigue, abdominal pains, sleep disturbances, numbness and altered sensation in the arms and legs, muscle weakness, cramps, increased sensitivity to insulin (the hormone that lowers blood glucose levels), decreased blood cholesterol levels and decreased potassium levels in the body.
Vitamin B5 is found in a very wide variety of foods. Foods that have high levels of Vitamin B5 include organ meats (e.g. liver and kidney), eggs, fish and shellfish, lobsters, poultry, soybeans, lentils, split peas, milk, yoghurt, avocado, mushrooms and sweet potatoes.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) for Vitamin B5 is 4 to 6 mg per day for adults.