Vitamin B5 benefits relate to energy production in cells, and overcoming tiredness and fatigue. Vitamin B5 also promotes healthy skin and hair. Vitamin B5 is added to many skincare and hair products as it stimulates protein synthesis, cell rejuvenation and reduces mottling in ageing skin.
Vitamin B5 occurs in two main forms, as pantothenic acid (or pantothenate) and as pantetheine. Substances that can be converted into vitamin B5, such as panthenol, are known as provitamin B5.
Vitamin B5 is a water-soluble vitamin that forms a vital component of co-enzyme A, a substance involved in an energy-creating metabolic pathway known as the citric acid cycle
Vitamin B5 Benefits
Vitamin B5 is needed for cells to generate energy from carbohydrates, fats and protein, and is especially vital for muscle and nerve cell function. It is vital for the synthesis of glucose, fatty acids and to stimulate cell growth in healing tissues. Vitamin B5 is also needed for the production of stress hormones, and levels become depleted during times of prolonged stress.
Within the EU, the European Food Safety Authority has authorised health claims that vitamin B5 contributes to:
- Normal energy-yielding metabolism
- Normal mental performance
- Normal synthesis and metabolism of steroid hormones, vitamin D and some neurotransmitters
- The reduction of tiredness and fatigue.
Food Sources of vitamin B5
Vitamin B5 is present in all animal and plant cells, and was named from the Greek word pantothen meaning ‘everywhere’. Good sources of vitamin B5 include:
- poultry, meat, offal
- wholegrains and fortified cereals
- eggs, especially fish roes (2.3mg/g)
- vegetables, especially broccoli, potatoes, and tomatoes
- yeast extract
Vitamin B5 is easily destroyed during food processing, with heating destroying up to 50% of B5 present in meat while an additional 30% is lost into cooking juices. Some of this can be reclaimed by using the juices to make soups, gravy and sauces. Up to 75% of the vitamin B5 in vegetables is lost during cooking and freezing.
One of the richest supplement sources of vitamin B5 is royal jelly which contains 0.5mg (500mcg) vitamin B5 per gram.
Vitamin B5 deficiency
Vitamin B5 is rapidly depleted during times of stress when it is used to synthesise adrenal hormones.
Symptoms that may be due to vitamin B5 deficiency include:
- loss of appetite
- poor stress response
Symptoms that may be due to major vitamin B5 deficiency are:
- poor muscle co-ordination
- muscle cramps
- numbness and tingling
- abdominal cramps
- painful, burning feet
Vitamin B5 and hair
Vitamin B5 is needed to produce the hair filament proteins in hair follicles. Vitamin B5 also gives hair its flexibility, strength and shine. Lack of vitamin B5 can lead to dull, lack-lustre hair that is brittle, frizzy and which splits at the ends. Vitamin B5 deficiency has also been linked with premature hair greying.
Leave-on hair treatments that include vitamin B5, vitamin B3 and caffeine have been shown to increase the diameter of scalp hair fibres and to increase their cross-sectional area by as much as 10%.
Click here to read why caffeine shampoos can reduce hair thinning.
Vitamin B5 and skin
Vitamin B5 has beneficial moisturizing effects on the skin. Studies using culture skin cells (keratinocytes and fibroblasts) show that pantothenic acid is essential for maintaining skin cell proliferation and for the production of collagen.This makes it particularly helpful for ageing skin to reduce dryness and premature wrinkles.
Adding just 1% vitamin B5 (panthenol) to skin creams has been shown to help maintain skin integrity. Vitamin B5 also stimulates wound healing and has an antimicrobial activity against potentially harmful skin bacteria such as Staphylococci.
Vitamin B5 supplements are also used to help combat acne.
Vitamin B5 and rheumatoid arthritis
People with rheumatoid arthritis tend to have significantly lower levels of vitamin B5 than in the general population. A European Commission report into the safety of vitamin B5 cite a study from 1980 in which people with rheumatoid arthritis who took calcium pantothenate supplements enjoyed a significantly reduced duration of morning stiffness, degree of disability, and severity of pain compared with placebo. The dose used in this study was 500 milligrams daily for two days, increasing to 1 g daily for three days, followed by 1.5 g daily for four days, and 2 g daily thereafter (in divided doses). Despite these promising results, no further research has been published.
Vitamin B5 and weight loss
Some researchers suggest that vitamin B5 supplements may support weight-loss by promoting the metabolism of fatty acids and reducing the formation of ketones to suppress hunger pangs.
A trial involving a supplement that included calcium pantothenate plus other weight loss incredients such as Garcinia cambogia, found that, after 60 days, those taking the supplement lost 4.67% body weight compared with just 0.63% for those in the placebo group. Weight losses of at least 3kg were recorded in significantly more people in the treatment group than in the placebo group (23 versus 1).
Vitamin B5 and Hepatitis A
Russian researchers have used vitamin B5 supplements to support liver recovery in patients with viral hepatitis A. Pantotheine produced the best therapeutic effect.
Vitamin B5 dose
Requirements increase during pregnancy and lactation.
The average Western diet supplies 5.4mg vitamin B5 per day.
Multivitamins and vitamin B complex usually contain calcium pantothenate or panthenol, which are more stable than pantothenic acid.
Vitamin B5 Safety
Very high doses of vitamin B5 (above 10 grams per day) may cause diarrhoea.
The European Food Safety Authority felt unable to determine a tolerable upper intake as there was insufficient data relating to toxicity. For guidance purposes only, the UK Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals have suggested an upper tolerable intake of 200mg vitamin B5 per day for long-term use from supplements.
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