Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)

Vitamin B5, also called pantothenic acid, is one of 8 B vitamins. All B vitamins help the body convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which the body uses to produce energy. These B vitamins, often referred to as B complex vitamins, also help the body use fats and protein. B complex vitamins are needed for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. They also help the nervous system function properly.

All B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning that the body does not store them.

In addition to playing a role in the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates for energy, vitamin B5 is critical to the manufacture of red blood cells, as well as sex and stress-related hormones produced in the adrenal glands, small glands that sit atop the kidneys. Vitamin B5 is also important in maintaining a healthy digestive tract, and it helps the body use other vitamins, particularly B2 (also called riboflavin). It is sometimes called the "anti-stress" vitamin, but there is no concrete evidence whether it helps the body withstand stress.

Your body needs pantothenic acid to synthesize cholesterol. A derivative of pantothenic acid called pantethine is being studied to see if it may help lower cholesterol levels in the body.

Vitamin B5 deficiency is rare, but may include symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, depression, irritability, vomiting, stomach pains, burning feet, and upper respiratory infections.

High Cholesterol/High Triglycerides

Several small, double-blind studies suggest that pantethine may help reduce triglycerides, or fats, in the blood in people who have high cholesterol. Some of these studies show that pantethine helped lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. In some open studies, pantethine seems to lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in people with diabetes. But not all studies agree. Larger studies are needed to see whether pantethine has any real benefit.

Skin Care and Wound Healing

Preliminary research suggests that vitamin B5 has moisturizing effects on the skin, however, researchers aren't clear why it works. Other studies, mostly in test tubes and animals but a few on people, suggest that vitamin B5 supplements may speed wound healing, especially following surgery. This may be particularly true if vitamin B5 is combined with vitamin C.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Preliminary evidence suggests that pantothenic acid might improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but the evidence is weak. One study found that people with RA may have lower levels of B5 in their blood than healthy people, and the lowest levels were associated with the most severe symptoms. Other studies show that calcium pantothenate improves symptoms of RA, including morning stiffness and pain. More studies are needed to confirm these findings.

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Review Date: 7/16/2013  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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